I’m really looking forward to World Labyrinth Day this year. Face to face restrictions on gatherings have been lifted and hopefully will stay that way. Come and join me and other enthusiasts for a walk on the Centennial Park Labyrinth in Sydney at 1pm on Saturday May 1st. Let’s walk as one at one!
This year I’m also facilitating a walk for meditators and healers at 11am. This should be a lovely introduction to the labyrinth for anyone who hasn’t come across its energy yet, and provide a way in to experiencing how profound it can be. Register in the Contact menu on my home page to be in the draw for a finger labyrinth, or just come along. Stay for both walks if you like! Check this page for weather updates.
A quiet and rather solitary World Labyrinth Day celebration, 2nd May. for me this year. I stayed on the Central Coast, NSW and took a finger labyrinth to a peaceful spot by the water. It was good to know that labyrinth lovers from the east coast of Australia were walking in spirit with me, and that many others were able to do a virtual walk thanks to the work of the Australian Labyrinth Network.
There is no such thing as a singular “indigenous”. The diversity of life experiences and negotiation of identities can result in people of aboriginal heritage having different degrees of engagement with our dominant western culture for families or individuals. The result is a mosaic.
Engagement with one culture or another can fall at an extreme: from total immersion to total exclusion. Some individuals bridge the divide between two cultures, and after a journey that’s anything but straightforward, can create a path that fosters the kind of success in life that they are seeking. Julie and Jamie have had vastly different experiences, but both have taken advantage of opportunities offered to work in the media to negotiate the cultural divide.
Jamie began his career in the media at Eora TAFE and
developed what he called a “love for the camera”. He studied film and screen and got some
interesting opportunities through one of his teachers to work on films that
went on to achieve cult status: Last Cab
to Darwin, and Unindian. These were
entry level roles which he took on as unpaid work, and they opened his eyes
both to the uncertainty of the industry and the prospect of a more sustainable
career – in journalism.
Once again, the willingness to take on unpaid work in the
media opened the way for further opportunities.
Jamie joined the ABC as an intern, saying to himself
“I’m gonna prove that I belong at the ABC. I’ll do it for three or six months or
whatever they give me, because as soon as that six months is over, how can they
get rid of me if I prove that there’s no-one there who can do what I do?”
Jamie’s determination has paid off. He’s in transition from being a trainee on an
indigenous certified program to looking for full time employment there. He’s made good connections with household names
like Stan Grant and Leigh Sales. What is
his strategy for success? “I’ve been in
just about every area of the ABC that you can imagine. I’ve tried to be an allrounder. You have to
do what you love.”
Jamie feels that more representation of indigenous people is
needed in the high profile areas of news and radio. But that’s not where it ends. “I believe strongly that I can get to where I
need to be without using the aboriginal card.
I don’t feel I need the title of the “indigenous person”. I have enough of a reputation now so that I
could apply for a camera job and I could possible get it because I’m at that
level now where I feel like to know what I’m doing.”
There’s no doubt that Koori Radio at Redfern gives an
opportunity for indigenous talent to be recognised. It has the happy mix of music, news,
community information and discussion that makes a community radio station
successful. Julie is a volunteer presenter
there. She’s on air on Saturday mornings
with Kookaburra George. Before that she
did some time at 2SER with the Uni students even though she didn’t have the
same level of qualifications, and learnt a lot.
Julie worked on the Jailbreak program – stories from prisoners – once a
week. She still does the Christmas Day
show with Jailbreak.
Homelessness is something that Julie feels particularly
strongly about. It’s a trap for many
indigenous people. She should know, she was homeless in Melbourne for a number
of years. Luckily for her, she had some
help to escape it, over a period of time.
“I think people have got to remember that homelessness takes
a little while to reorganise yourself once you find somewhere to live. It’s a hard road and people just have to keep
trying. Employers like to know that
you’re trying. What I would suggest is
that people do volunteer work – get your references, get your skills, try and
hold down a place for about twelve months because employers like to see that.”
Julie had help with navigating the myriad paperwork and
services from someone from a church mission who told her that she didn’t
deserve to be in her situation, but a Housing Commission flat still took
fifteen years to come her way. She’s
continuing with her volunteering at Koori Radio, and has gained certificates in
peer education, primary care and health and outreach. She is just about to start working with
people with a disability.
Both Julie and Jamie have woven a career path using
volunteering in mainstream and community media coupled the resources available
to them as indigenous Australians. There
could be no better way to reconcile what could otherwise have been a wide
The oldest library in the modern world was opened by a woman, Fatima Al-Fihri. That was in Morocco over a thousand years ago. Now libraries are commonplace and accessible to all, but The Women’s Library in Newtown defines itself by a specific mission – empowering and celebrating the lives of women.
Many of these women were born in homelands both
physically and culturally distant from the golden age of Morocco. Their stories may be different too – far from
the wealth and social status needed to establish a non-essential activity such
as collecting books for learning. But learning promotes power, and seeing
women’s voices in print and reading stories written from women’s perspectives
brings recognition of commonality and difference, no more so than in modern day
Women’s Library began in 1991 when a dedicated group of women got together to
discuss the need for a library that contained print and non-print material for
and about women, with a focus on lesbian and feminist literature. Some of the
founders were household names of the time:
Caroline Jones, Clover Moore, Justice Elizabeth Evatt and Ann Deveson.
It took them three years to find the premises, then they set out to collect 4000 books.
They scattered bright red chests throughout Sydney for donations, and
wrote to Australian authors and publishers asking them to donate. They got a good response.
As well as being a “safe space” for women to relax and
read, the library has evolved into a meeting space for smaller groups promoting
feminism and women’s causes. The Sydney
Feminists group has screened free educational videos there; senior’s week
events, lesbian open house, International Women’s Day events, comedy and music
performances all benefitted the local and wider community.
The written word is the mainstay of any library, and
in 2008 a series of “Storying our Lives” workshops was held, funded by the City
of Sydney. Women were asked to think about what
living in Sydney meant to them, or to tell in pictures a story about their
lives. Out of this emerged a diverse range of art and a wide range of
interesting conversations, and a book. Short story competitions, the creation
and launch of the TWL Herstory book and bargain book sales keep learning and
creativity at the Library’s forefront
The legacy of the founders is still going in 2019. Right now the Women Write Wiki project,
funded by the NSW Writers Centre, aims to train a team of women to edit
Wikipedia. Its purpose is to redress the
gender imbalance in the representation of Australian and Pacific women writers. According to the website, the Wiki writers
“raising our voices peacefully for gender
equality, speaking out against hatred and bigotry, and volunteering in our
communities. We do so in solidarity with our sisters all over the world.”
fostering these projects and providing space for women to explore their place
in the world, the Women’s Library is spreading
Fatima Al-Fihri’s inspired vision for learning and empowerment into areas she
could never have dreamed of.
The battle to save the Central Coast water supply from contaminants leaching from Mangrove mountain landfill entered another stage this week. In a battle involving the Bingo Waste Management company and some smaller local players, the Central Coast Council is now considering submissions from the community to help to inform its application to the Environmental Protection Authority to have the site closed down.