They Came on Boats

My ancestors all came to this country on boats. Remarkable! Before the colony of Port Philip was 25 years from first white settlement the forebears of my father and the forbears of my mother had arrived, one by one or a family together, to start a new life. Their sailing ships docked at Williamstown in…

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Nana Kelly and Mungo Man

Mutthi Mutthi It was early in 1998, in the glare and heat of a summer afternoon that I was summoned into the living room of Nana Kelly’s small cottage in Balranald. Nana Kelly was a much respected elder of the Mutthi Mutthi people; I crossed the dusty road and entered the darkened interior of this…

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Women and War

This afternoon I shuffled papers for recycling and noticed a letter that I wrote years ago, September 27th 1994. It is grim reading of a war’s repercussions for women. You may not choose to read further, but I will sketch a few details of background and then simply retype what I wrote at the time. My…

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A Reason to Fear

There is a fear that nags at me. During my long life I have lived in troubled, dangerous places. I have seen, close up, both the terrible oppression and the courage of local people who resist it. I have friends, in certain parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, where a person working for justice…

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A Long Hard Road

Every year NAIDOC Week leaves me feeling unsettled. There is something that must be resolved, the closer we edge towards this ‘walking in two worlds’ the more I feel the challenge of it. It is two years since the ‘Statement from the Heart’ at Uluru. People of the First Nations offered a vision for Australia that could…

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A Day Of Small Things

Today is what I call ‘the perfect Melbourne day’. Two degrees as I wake. The dawn light shows opal clear sky, earth damp with rain and the flowers in pots at my back door showing no frost damage at all. Everything feels leisurely. A slow breakfast with friends around my kitchen table: coffee, toast and…

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Walking In Two Worlds

New Zealanders expressed both grief and unity at the time of the Christchurch tragedy; they showed the world that humanity can rise after terrible events. They honoured the dead, fostered unity and demonstrated the truth of the inclusive ‘us’. Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern embraced the whole of the nation’s heritage and culture: of those that…

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Bloodshed and Courage

Witness K and Bernard Collary are in trouble. They are to be prosecuted as whistleblowers. The support for their cause gathers strength. They spoke of a breach of trust between Australia and East Timor. News of Timor Leste brings me back twenty years to my own encounters with the people of East Timor. In September…

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