Tuesday, May 28, 2013
WIIMPITJA PERSPECTIVE ON NATIONAL RECONCILIATION
I have followed Paul Dutton on Twitter for some time now and have long appreciated his wisdom. With respect I asked him to write a few words on Reconciliation for my blog to inspire my readers here during National Reconciliation Week. I feel his generosity of spirit is infectious. Feel free to share your thoughts on his post down below.
I was born in Broken Hill, far western NSW, we refer to ourselves as ‘wiimpitja’ of Barkindji country. ‘Baaka’ referring to the river, the Darling River.
I was part of the Stolen Generation, adopted into a non-Indigenous family whilst two other siblings were also removed and placed in two separate foster care placements. We were all 1400 kilometres away from our family.
I grew up in Liverpool, NSW and met my birth family when I returned to Wilcannia in 1988. I am now a traditional owner and board member of Mutawtinji National Park, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/Mutawintji-National-Park which is located between Wilcannia and Broken Hill.
I have previously worked for Department of Immigration for 10 years, NSW Department of Housing 1 ½ years, NSW Link-Up http://www.linkupnsw.org.au/ (Aboriginal Corporation) 1 ½ years, NSW Family & Community Services 10 years.
My partner Michelle and I have 6 children, Merinda (22 yrs) attends UNSW studying 5th year Law, Manduway (20 yrs) attends Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts (ACPA) in Brisbane, Keeden (19 yrs) is commencing Physical Education at Southern Cross University in Lismore, Alinta (17 yrs) is completing her HSC Year and Talara (15 yrs) is in Year 9, whilst Jara’na (8yrs) is in Year 3, and was recently a part of an ABC documentary called “Life At Series”.
My views on Reconciliation:
First of all, what is ‘wiimpitja’? This is the Barkindji word for Indigenous people.
What is my connection to ‘reconciliation’?
I was adopted not long after birth and spent the next 21 years living with a non-indigenous family as an adopted son. I loved my life, my upbringing and wanted for nothing.
I returned home as a 21 year old and met many relatives, where for the following 25 years up to this day, I continue to gain knowledge, understanding, strength of culture, and identity. This has allowed me to be able to openly talk about my adoption, upbringing, my birth family and reunion and how this relates to my current living environment and career.
To be able to speak at schools, universities to agencies or at functions about my dual culture as a ‘wiimpitja’ and as a member of a non-indigenous family and part of the ‘stolen generation’ allows me a unique perspective.
What are my views on Reconciliation? I believe it provides a significant step in bringing the numerous ‘cultures’ of Australia together so that we can truly claim ‘reconciliation’ as part of our nations united theme therefore a unique perspective of Australian culture.
Why believe in Reconciliation? It is Australia’s opportunity to allow Indigenous culture to be linked further and concrete it within Australia’s developing identity.
Who could Reconciliation leaders be? Anyone with the passion and courage for expressing their identity and willingness to write the story of Australia. We are all capable and have our collective voices heard and be those individuals. To walk alongside one another, people with differing cultural histories, and share in the uniqueness of multicultural Australia.
What will Reconciliation achieve? It allows for a greater share, for social inclusion specifically for Indigenous Australian’s. It permits for the many Indigenous stories to gain legitimate ownership within Australia. It provides the opportunity for those willing to open the discourse of their stories to be shared with other people and cultures within our communities.
For all Australian’s to be encouraged to engage in communication with other cultures, especially indigenous Australian’s is how we as one nation will be able to participate in our shared cultures within this country.
It will encourage understanding, respect, knowledge, and acceptance of the truth of the living that is the humanity of Australia, to which would be the ultimate creationism of reconciliation.
Why is Reconciliation important? Because there continues to be the subconscious belief still in Australia that Indigenous cultural history should not be discussed in its entirety, from cultural interaction to clashes, death and violence.
There continues the subconscious beliefs of individuals that racism doesn’t happen in Australia and openly deny it, in the face of racism. Reconciliation accepts the entire story, embraces that existence and cultural connection between peoples means we march together, as one voice, reconciled in knowing what was, what is, and what will be, can be done by anyone, for everyone and it’s ok.