Under Bunjil Volume 7 2020 – Plain text
Front Cover of Under Bunjil Voulme 7
Tree blossoming beside water bank.
UNDER BUNJIL WINTER VOLUME SEVEN 2020
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Two page image spread of Aboriginal Flag.
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers should be aware that this publication may contain the names and images of those who have passed away. The content in Under Bunjil is of a sensitive nature and may be very confronting for some. We encourage our contributors to use Under Bunjil as a platform to make known their experiences as First Nations people in this country.
As such this edition, like previous editions, contains text and imagery pertaining to many forms of colonial, sexual, and physical violence. We understand the severity of these themes and have chosen, and will continue, to include this content. We must continue to speak honestly with our readers about our lived realities. There will be explicit content warnings at the beginning of individual pieces that address these particular themes. Please practice self-care while engaging with Under Bunjil; our experiences are not to be taken lightly and neither are these stories. This publication is a testament to our ongoing battles, unwavering strength, and dedication to healing.
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Acknowledgement of Country
CONTENT WARNING: this piece contains references to white supremacy, racism and discrimination, violence, death, and the destruction of sacred sites.
Despite the absence of staff and students on campus in Semester 1, Under Bunjil continues to recognise and respect the traditional owners of the land on which the University was erected. We acknowledge the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung (Parkville, Southbank, Burnley andWerribee) and Dja Dja Wurrung (Creswick) peoples of the Kulin Nation, and the Yorta Yorta Nation (Shepparton and Dookie), as the rightful custodians of the lands on which these various Melbourne University campuses reside. These sacred lands are the birthplace of Aboriginal stories, customs, and ceremonies; connecting mob to Ancestors, Spirits, and Elders. Sovereignty of these lands was never ceded – always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.
Under Bunjil acknowledges the Aboriginal Elders of these communities, whose presence and wisdom are pivotal to the survival of language and culture. Now more than ever it is vital our Elders be protected. The COVID-19 pandemic presents another barrier for the passing down of their ontologies and epistemologies of the physical and sacred worlds, to the next generation of leaders. Under Bunjil acknowledges the perpetual inequalities and injustices faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which can only be combatted when we stand together alongside our present and emerging Elders.
In light of key events this year, Under Bunjil recognises the systemic racism that continues to subjugate First Nations, Black, and People and Colour to discrimination, violence, corporal punishment, and death in custody. The fight for basic human rights is an ongoing battle, and Under Bunjil acknowledges the strength and hard work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community who continually ignite conversations about these injustices and demand change in Australia. Under Bunjil also acknowledges the LGBTIQA+ community and their
resistance in the face of continuous prejudice. The transphobic, misogynistic, and unwarranted hate crimes that target Queer Blak people further demonstrates incessant discrimination that deprives people of their basic right to life. Blak lives and Blak LGBTIQA+ lives matter!
As we produce this magazine, live, learn, and collaborate as guests on Wurundjeri Country, we respect the land and waters that surround us and implore Bunjil the creator, to continue to watch over and protect us all in these uncertain times. Under Bunjil acknowledges the importance of sacred sites here on Wurundjeri Country. Under Bunjil acknowledges the importance of sacred sites for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and condemns their destruction at the hands of rapacious corporations that fail to consult with local communities or Elders. The protection of sacred sites is paramount as we continue to denounce settler-colonial institutions that restrict Indigenous movements and occupations of their land. Connection to Country is central to First Nations customs, ceremonies, stories, and ways of life; respect, conservation, and care for Country by all its inhabitants is vital.
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Table of contents
04 Content Warning
05 Acknowledgement of Country
10 Camphor Laurel
12 Wurundjeri Water Wandering
15 36 Q’s of a Wiradjuri Woman
16 American Classics
20 Inter Generational
21 Intervention Order
26 January Twenty What?
28 A Storm as I Remember
32 Ghost Gum
33 Speech at Parliament
36 Harmony Avenue
37 Okay, Karen!
39 How Do You Spell That?
44 Winter Fuel
46 Pause and Refocus
57 BLAK STATS
60 BLAK THINGS
62 Our Contributors
64 Thank You
65 Under Bunjil Volumes
13 Wurundjeri Water Wandering
14 Self Portrait on Flag
18 Untitled Sketch 1
19 Untitled Sketch 2
24 Yochi Yarning
34 A Father, Cactus, and Reflections
41 Dharawal / Boon Wurrung
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Under Bunjil Volume Seven
Powered by the voices and drive of First Nations students, Under Bunjil serves as a platform to share the thoughts and experiences of the student body at The University of Melbourne. Written and published by First Nations students hailing from different nations across Australia, many of us now study on Kulin Countries under the watchful gaze of the great eagle, Bunjil.
Founder: Tyson Holloway-Clarke (Njamal)
Editorial Team: Co-Head Editor Hope Kuchel (Barkindji), Co-Head Editor Shanysa McConville (Eastern Arrernte)
Cover Art: Naomi Oakley (Gamilaroi)
Contact: For all advertising details, distribution information & general enquiries, please contact the Head Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Melbourne Student Union Floor 1, Union House Union Road,The University of Melbourne VIC 3010
The views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of the editors, the UMSU Indigenous Department, the University of Melbourne Student Union, or the University of Melbourne. All content, including but not limited to, writings, designs, and graphics, remain the property of their creators and are published with their permission. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in part or whole, without the prior permission of the Under Bunjil Head Editor.
This magazine was created and published during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, when our team was working remotley and without the usual resources. We’ve worked hard to bring you quality content that is error free. However, in the case that there is a small mistake, we hope you’ll be kind enough to overlook it.
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CONTENT WARNING: this piece contains references to a deceased person, white supremacy, violence, and the destruction of sacred sites.
To our dearest readers,
Welcome to Volume 7 of Under Bunjil! We are so happy to finally release this long-awaited edition and we thank you all for your patience.
Under Bunjil carves out a space for First Nations students to get creative by exploring ideas, concepts, and experiences through a cross cultural dialogue that creates a sense of community and agency. Under Bunjil is the University of Melbourne Student Union Indigenous Department’s biyearly print magazine that all started back in 2015. Whether as readers, contributors or editors, Under Bunjil has become a core part of First Nations student’s experience while studying at the University of Melbourne. Each issue of Under Bunjil takes on its own personality, but in whatever edition you pick up you will find a combination of work: essays, criticism, challenges, poetry, interviews, visual art, and so much more.
As Indigenous Office Bearers, we had lengthy discussions about how the production of Under Bunjil was going to proceed under the new isolation restrictions. We had to consider how efficient a team of four or more would operate with limited accessibility to software over multiple devices, communication breakdown over technology, and the reality that we have all experienced the pandemic in different ways.
New to this role and with high hopes of achieving great things during our interim, we began to feel overwhelming sadness and despair about goals, initiatives, and activities we had planned. At the same time, we wanted to make sure we continued to care for ourselves and each other, which is why we focused a major part of our efforts towards Under Bunjil.
Photograph of Shanysa McConville and Hope Kuchel, Under Bunjil’s Co-Head Editors
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Under Bunjil was something we could control and take the time to make great for all of you. This does not mean the next edition will follow this same pattern and only have two editors; we continue to learn each day about the intricacies of our role and are better prepared than the day before.
2020 has certainly presented many challenges for us all. From the rampant Australian bushfires to COVID-19, from the destruction of sacred sites in the Pilbara by Rio Tinto, to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in the United States and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement; the
negative events of this new decade seem to outweigh the positive. We have been compelled to isolate during a time when our presence and activism was paramount to combat the systemic racism that continues to subjugate First Nations people to perpetual inequalities and injustices.
We discussed how we wanted to shape this year’s edition to honestly reflect these challenges and the pain and suffering we have all experienced, but to also showcase the strength and healing we have all seen in one another. We have worked hard, day and night, to incorporate these themes throughout the edition and to make this something beautiful and interesting. During isolation we especially recognised the importance of using this platform to create a magazine that would speak to each person who may feel isolated and lonely.
In reflecting on our journey, it has been a wild ride to get this edition published with our contributors in different spaces physically, and the constant back and forth with emails, updates, and revisions. After a couple of breakdowns, mentally and technologically, we are proud to
release this edition to you. Grab a nice warm cuppa or a cheeky glass of wine, get cozy, and enjoy reading the rest of this magazine.
Stay warm and deadly,
Hope & Shanysa
Photographs of Hope Kuchel, Under Bunjil’s Co-Head Editor and Shanysa McConville, Under Bunjil’s Co-Head Editor
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A single surviving embryo from distant lands buried deep in the bowels of Bundjalung Country.
Spurred by a thirst for foreign pastures it drinks the damp land dry.
Wooden tentacles invade the hearth usurping precious minerals carried upward to the leaves. As its limbs grow thicker Country grows weaker. Rosella flowers crumble under January’s dry breath emerald glistens in the heat.
Below a violet ceiling tucked in the horizon
the tree stands triumphant and beautiful without a single care for the carnage no one sees in Bundjalung Country.
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Drawing of a women looking to the left with two flower strands on either side
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Wurundjeri Water Wandering
Still in crisp coat weather.
Wattle paints and perfumes your winding path. This is a time of transition.
With fresh petals and new life to begin.
Water dancing smoothly south. Caressing your rounded curves. This is a place of wonder.
With company of kookaburras and cockatoos.
Cocooned in a time capsule. Secluded, lush, vibrant. This is a way to escape,
With pedals spinning to relieve, to breathe.
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Photograph – Close up image of a tree branch with yellow flowers.
Photograph – Kookaburra sitting on a branch between trees.
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Self Portrait on Flag
Incomplete drawing of a nude woman in front of the Aboriginal Flag
Text in art reads “Dhayindu Dhanny-Buwaga-yi? Dhagu-ndhu Yanha-nha?
Where did you come from? Where are you going?”
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36 Q’s of a Wiradjuri Woman
This is a dedication to my grandmother, who I never got to meet because she died at the age of 36.
She was a Wiradjuri woman who never got the chance to be proud of who she was, so I choose to honour her with my pride. None of these questions are meant to be answered nor left without consideration, the idea is to provide an environment for provocation. It is not meant to be insulting; this is purely the materialisation of the invisible emotional labour Indigenous people endure every day.
- Who do I harm by identifying as a Wiradjuri woman? Who do I aid or inspire?
- Does fighting make me stronger or just more seen? Which is better?
- Would my Ancestors be proud of me? If not, do I have a right to challenge that?
- When will I know I’m healed?
- Who do I fight for? Why do I fight?
- Will my anger at the colonial state ever truly subside?
- Will I ever feel safe in a room of non-Indigenous people discussing Indigenous issues?
- Who gets to decide if my struggle is valid?
- I have seen every addiction, seen all the pain, but does that make me more or less intelligent?
- Will my anger always be reduced to a stereotype?
- Will I ever be rewarded for my time spent educating non-Indigenous people?
- Do any of these thoughts truly matter? Am I being overly analytical?
- How do I remain proud of my heritage in a society built upon its destruction and eradication?
- Can I say the world will be better for my children, nieces, nephews, or siblings?
- Is it okay to rationalise cycles but still resent the people stuck within them?
- How do I choose when it is time for rest and when it is time to help? Should I have to?
- At what point is it okay for me to stop learning? Is it ever?
- Can my ideas about my own lived experience ever be inherently wrong?
- How do I know if my position as a role model is rewarding or exhausting?
- Do I feel the same relationship to my Queerness as I do my Indigeneity? Are they even comparable?
- What parts of my Aboriginality am I grateful for? What parts am I not?
- Can an individual be expected to answer any of these questions correctly? What does it mean to be correct?
- Am I culturally competent? Am I culturally safe? How will I know when I am?
- Do these questions cause self-reflection or perpetuate anxiety?
- What concepts surrounding my Aboriginality are worth dwelling on?
- How prevalent is imposter syndrome in the Indigenous community? How does that effect our collective success?
- What dreams and aspirations do I have? How are they linked to my heritage?
- Who do I look up to? Why?
- Why does it hurt me when people says Aboriginal motifs are ‘cool’? Should I have to accept this as a compliment?
- When do I determine if I have wasted my time? What measures do I use?
- How do I exist in a colonial society when I can point out all its flaws? How do I determine when it is okay to benefit?
- Who do I want to inspire? Who do I aim to protect?
- What determines a successful life of an Indigenous person? Is it inappropriate to measure my life with white success?
- What should my support network look like as an Indigenous person? 35. How much energy should I spend healing trauma? How much is out of my control? 36. Have I reached midlife? If so, should I dwell on that?
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CONTENT WARNING: this piece contains references to eugenics and terms historically used to racially profile and offend.
Explain how two nineteenth-century American writers you have studied have used allegory and/or symbols in their works. In the case of symbols, are they universally understood symbols or do the symbols carry personal meanings and how does this effect the way we read these texts?
19th Century Literary Symbolism & Masculinity
Concepts of 19th century manhood revolved around positions of power that allow a man to fulfil his desires without constraint. The stories of Stephen Crane and Edgar Allan Poe use repetitive symbolism and allegories to reinforce ideals and contrasting anxieties around manhood and masculinity. The Red Badge of Courage (1895) by Crane wields thesymbolism of colour, nature, and war to shape masculinity that is threatening to one’s life and demands a rite of passage but is the object of desire to young men. On the other hand, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838) by Poe plays with racial relations and dangers of chasing one’s desire selfishly through symbolism of the sea, black and white colours, and the seafaring vessels throughout the novella. This paper will discuss these symbols and undertone allegories in relation to manhood as it has been represented and how it adapts. Also, manhood in these novels are displays of toxic masculinity which are ongoing and not a past experience, but a continuing issue for anyone with a gender identity.
The duality of white and black symbolism in Poe’s imagery reflects the racial dynamics of the time in the eyes of a middle class white man. The racial dichotomy is shown in the characters of Pym, Peters, and then the Tsalians in terms of their skin colours and their symbolism. Dirk Peters, the Native American-White American character is the middle ground between two opposites: black and white. I.e. “His head was equally deformed, being of immense size, with an indentation on the crown (like that on the head of most negroes), and entirely bald” (30). Poe’s indication here to eugenics and pseudosciences rationalising race theory and racial oppression works to create a ‘normal’ and ‘other’ (Jensen 68). Peters inhabits the uncanny to explore the normalisation of whiteness, and the way Poe’s prose supports pro-slavery in the United States of America (Worley 231). The other aspect is the ‘othering’ of the Tsalians and their association with Blackness and savagery:
“In the four canoes, which might have been fifty feet long and five broad, there were a hundred and ten savages in all. They were about the ordinary stature of Europeans, but of a more muscular and brawny frame. Their complexion a jet black, with thick and long woolly hair” (Poe 103).
This first description of the Tsalians exposes Pym’s understanding of other ethnicities as lesser, by his comparison of their build to the “ordinary stature of Europeans”. The direct connotations then lead on to the subtle and thematic symbolism of whiteness and Blackness, considering the quest for the South. The further South they go towards Antarctica in the canoe, the whiter the surrounding transforms until they are in the presence of being where the “hue of the skin of the figure was of the perfect whiteness of the snow” (136). Christian symbolism of God being white, played as a then ending of the novel, was to represent the desire of white men attaining passage into heaven via their whiteness. The Tsalian accompanying them passed away in this presence, and the entire Tsalian behaviour toward white things was in opposition telling of a lack of desire for not whiteness, but what it symbolises – ‘civility’ and ‘purity’. The presence of manhood between the racial dichotomy exists as Pym is on the journey to discover ‘what is man?’, and uses Blackness as a form of ‘other’ to justify his own identity as a man, especially when making the comparison between cannibalism (Sanborn 16). Cannibalism on his behalf was for survival, as for the Tsalian’s it was a custom. To desire and consume flesh is Poe’s gothic symbolism filtering through normalising white masculinity.
Ships are vessels for men to follow one’s desire. They are symbols of masculinity which travel the globe inhibiting unchanging terrors and comforts for men. The first ship Pym and Augustus board is Augustus’ father’s, representing a patrilineal ideal of manhood in seafaring, and the boat referred to as pronouns “she” (6) proved dangerous with the young men intoxicated physically by alcohol, and metaphorically on the idea of adventure where the quest proves near fatal and they are saved by “The Penguin” (8) to arrive on time to Barnard’s breakfast. The symbol of the first boat is the fragility of youthful masculinity, which is then saved by the second symbolising experienced masculinity. The curious imagery of the Flying Dutchmen is Poe’s strongest gothic thread to the supernatural invading the minds of men. The Ghost Ship itself is a symbol for anxieties around masculinity threatened by the presence of the unexplainable or something out of God’s domain. Lenz (30-31) describes the Ghost Ship as a “Gothic Castle” as it is a place where men are tested on their human morals and inhumane desires. Poe plays with gothic conventions that exist within patriarchal norms forcing men into archetypes of masculinity, whilst the ships serve for gothic settings changing into symbols of manhood when the men desire then to obtain masculinity, or see them as equal threats to their selfhood. The vessels as symbols for masculinity also allows masculine ideals and anxieties to travel.
The expanse of the seas, a large body of water, is a playground for Poe to play with masculinity as something adaptable and performative, evident by Pym holding on to Western morals even when he is nowhere near Western civilisation. If the ships are the vessels for masculinity, then the sea symbolises morality and the adaptability of Western beliefs. When there is turmoil at sea, Pym describes the waters as something dangerous and something that saves him i.e. when he is stuck below the deck and running out of water and food; the dog, Tiger, who accompanies Pym was saved from being drowned in Nantucket the same as he in the first chapter, ultimately becomes infected by starvation and thirst which causes him to attack Pym. He and Tiger are both reduced to creatures fueled by basic life necessities which stripped away Pym’s manhood, and later made him capable of cannibalism. The paradoxical symbol of the ocean and water is something that is fearful but driven by desire for manhood, as it symbolises a passage to secure masculinity. E.g.
“Thinking that a plunge in the seawater might have a beneficial effect, I contrived to fasten the end of a rope around his body, and then, leading him to the companion-way (he remaining quite passive all the while), pushed him in, and immediately drew him out. I had good reason to congratulate myself upon having made this experiment; for he appeared much revived and invigorated, and, upon getting out, asked me, in a rational manner, why I had so served him” (68).
The healing effect of the sea on Parker in this passage largely relates to the inheritance of masculinity given by seafaring men to one another. The sea itself is the place in which this transmission of masculine energy occurs, and holds the integrity of masculinity in its structure.
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American Classics (continued)
Moving on to Crane, the disposition of masculinity takes the form of symbolism that enhances the landscape of the USA Civil War, where the men in the text ran into the battlefield fighting more for their masculinity than any other reason. The symbolism of war in The Red Badge of Courage takes effect in the characterisation of the soldiers. Henry Fleming, the protagonist, goes through a rite of passage to manhood as he fights to recover his integrity. After he tells his mother he has enlisted, he makes a reference to ‘returning with his shield or on it’, an allusion to Sparta in Ancient Greece which runs a thread through the experience of war which follows. Henry becomes the embodiment of ‘the youth’, which symbolises the ideology crammed into young men to enlist as he faces war by going through the motions, and other men become ‘the regiment’ or certain men get generalised into ‘the tall soldier’ or ‘tattered solider’. War becomes a beast that contorts men, but makes them men nonetheless. E.g.
“The youth looked at the men nearest him, and saw, for the most part, expressions of deep interest, as if they were investigating something that had fascinated them. One or two stepped with overvaliant airs as if they were already plunged into war. Others walked as upon thin ice. The greater part of the untested men appeared quiet and absorbed. They were going to look at war, the red animal—war, the blood-swollen god” (Crane 26-27).
The war becomes a deity the men are fighting. The men are excited about it, as much as it scares them. Then there is the character if the ‘tall soldier’ whose name is Jim Conklin; he becomes a symbol of heroism:
“He stared into space. To the two watchers there was a curious and profound dignity in the firm lines of his awful face. He was invaded by a creeping strangeness that slowly enveloped him. For a moment the tremor of his legs caused him to dance a sort of hideous hornpipe. His arms beat wildly about his head in expression of implike enthusiasm… The youth had watched, spellbound, this ceremony at the place of meeting” (Ibid. 67-68).
Jim Conklin is the goal for the youth, he died in war with dignity in a plight of bravery. He was also the one to challenge Henry’s morals at the beginning, questioning if he would ever run away – which he does. Casey (44) describes the case of masculinity being a generational filler between the veterans at the time, as well as Crane playing with the political agenda through satirical prose to avoid trouble and put the paradoxical experience of war in the limelight. Through literary prose, war is a symbol inheriting manhood. War’s role is similar to the sea in Poe’s story, wherein it is a setting for these trials of manhood to manifest and play out.
Colours are applied by Crane to explore the performativity of masculinity. Colour symbolism in the book plays the role of paint in a painting. Wogan analyses it’s use to open and close the story like a panorama (169). The colours themselves plays into Crane’s impressionist prose to describe the world not as it is, but what it seems to be. They stand as symbols to be interpreted and manipulated. Wogan also counts that the colour red appears 44 times (169); which links to the main symbolism of the ‘red badge’. The red badge is a banner of masculinity where Henry has to fight with himself as it is inwardly a physical wound of shame, but outwardly a badge of courage. This notion is played out by the tattered soldier, who believes that a war wound was honourable: “He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage.” (Crane 63). The two-way meaning of the red badge as a physical trophy given for military efforts and the reality of being injured unravels the hope for young men in war. McDermott (327) looks at the psychological wound of the red badge as a flimsy guise for masculinity. It has a dual meaning of both shame and honour, wherein if the origin is hidden then the honour is maintained (328). Other colours represent additional meaning; the disfigured people and the landscape as men become “gray” in the face, similar to mist and “blue” for their uniforms and the sky; the night is described as “black”, and the sun is either “yellow” (Crane 3) or “red” (Ibid. 68) for a domineering effect that leaves the audience anticipating the next move. The significance of colours as symbols of the struggle of manhood in a setting that creates masculinity through the palette of bravery, fear, and grief is one of Crane’s most enduring legacies.
Masculinity and manhood as lived experiences that are recycled in different forms dependent on cultural gist and not geography is key to understanding how they are explored in Red Badge of Courage and the Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym through symbolism. Crane has crafted a story about masculinity being something dependent on what others think of you, whilst Poe inhibits an inward sense of masculinity that comes from a sense of white entitlement. Symbols are not just an image on a page, they are something to be looked at and interpreted from one’s positionality. Masculinity is looked at from different aspects by turning it into symbols weaved into a narrative. The performative and inherited nature of masculinity turns it into a cycle of representations – symbols – that Crane and Poe manipulate into a snapshot of the reality for men in the 19th century.
- Casey, Jr, John Anthony. “Searching for a War of One’s Own: Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage, and the Glorious Burden of the Civil War Veteran.” American Literary Realism 44.1 (2011): 1-22.
- Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage. Collins Classics, 2011.
- Jensen, Sune Qvotrup. “Othering, identity formation and agency.” Qualitative studies 2.2 (2011): 63-78.
- Lenz, William E. “Poe’s ‘Arthur Gordon Pym’ and the Narrative Techniques of Antarctic Gothic.” CEA Critic, 53:3 (1991): 30–38. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44377065.
- McDermott, John J. “Symbolism and Psychological Realism in The Red Badge of Courage.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 23.3 (1968): 324-331.
- Poe, Edgar Allan. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Broadview Press, 2010. (Pink Monkey Ebooks)
- Renza, Louis A. “Crane’s the Red Badge of Courage.” The Explicator 56.2 (1998): 82-84.
- Sanborn, Geoffrey. A Confused Beginning: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. na, 2002.
- Wogan, Claudia C. “Crane’s Use of Color in” The Red Badge of Courage”. Modern Fiction Studies 6.2 (1960): 168.
- Worley, Sam. “The ‘nattative of Arthur Gordon Pym’ and the ideology of slavery.” ESQ-A Journal of the American Renaissance 40.3 (1994): 219-250.
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Untitled Sketch 1
Incomplete sketch of a woman’s face.
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Untitled Sketch 2
Sketch of a man’s face.
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on the inter
generational pains seeping through
crying for Mum
all plagued with pain
wanna be there with you
fighting this myself
not this time
tomorrow is another day
is what Mum says to me
in the struggle
looking at old photos of you
at a time more peaceful
see you smiling back at me
sometimes questioning me
I’m questioning everyday
why is it like this?
should I of been born with all of this
fear in my DNA
ugliness too you cut deeper
the eyes of the broken
LOOK AT ME
LOOK AT US
This is who we are
but no one sees
only your spirit knows
so we go on today
and for the rest of it
tryna cut deeper
be with ourselves
can be with us
and kick the pain into another
this is heavy this is a burden
I don’t want to put anything extra on
you but if you speak of it
you may see it clearer
you may find you
you may find us
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September storms in on gentle wings;
With a soft knock on an open door
But the wind rages over trivial things
And spring, welcomes smashed glass, on carpet floors
Flashing lights and copper people
On a precipice – the borderline
Tall and strong, red and blue steeples
Is this the finish line, the final time?
Reports and receipts
Headaches and plasters
Shaking knees and cold feet
This moment, person, a natural disaster.
This is the kings boxing ring.
And we are the ropes holding it together.
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CONTENT WARNING: this piece contains references to white supremacy, sexual abuse, pornography, substance abuse, and incarceration.
‘Does neoliberalism benefit or further disadvantage Aboriginal communities? Discuss with reference to the literature.’
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” Fredrich Basitat, The Law, 1850, p. 29
Neoliberalism is an ideology that increases privatisation of government services on individuals of the state that benefits governments and corporations, while disadvantaging First Nations people (Tuck 2013, p. 326). In this essay I will discuss the disadvantages that the Indige- nous people of the Northern Territory (NT) and its communities have faced since the Northern
Territory National Emergency Response (NT Intervention) of 2007. Firstly, I will discuss how Indigenous communities have been disadvantaged by the federal and state government not only suspending Acts and laws that protected Indigenous land rights, but also allowing corporate interests to work with the government in the mining industry. The discussion then extends to the roles of the prison-industrial complex (PIC) and how that has affected Indigenous communities within the NT. Finally, I will explore the struggle for Indigenous self-determination especially in navigating the neoliberalism framework that has disadvantaged the communities. The NT Intervention saw the rise of a neoliberal agenda take over and imperialise Indigenous communities through this government’s actions.
The NT Intervention saw the rise of neoliberal frameworks that were imbedded in remote Indigenous communities of the NT. This ultimately resulted in the Commonwealth controlling Aboriginal land and communities. The NT Intervention was justified through false claims of a pedophile ring and rampant sexual abuse, that was discussed in length on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Lateline show in 2006. The program led to the creation of the ‘Little Children Are Sacred Report’ that claimed communities had reached a state of crisis (Anderson & Wild 2007, p. 43). However, the report was misrepresented and exaggerated by the Howard government, who applied selective statistics broadly to all Aboriginal communities in the NT. These claims were later dismissed by the Australian Crime Commission in 2009, following an investigation into these alleged pedophile rings and the sexual abuse of children inside the communities (Gibson, 2017). To allow neoliberal frameworks to thrive inside the communities, the state government suspended Acts that protected Indigenous land, communities, and its people. The Native Title Act, Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and Racial Discrimination Act allowed Aboriginal communities ownership and protection of their land, and the right to exercise their Indigenous culture through practices such as hunting and agriculture. Once the government suspended these acts and re-colonised Aboriginal communities through the NT Intervention, such cultural practices became an irrelevant factor. This was because of neoliberal corporations being interested in mining uranium on Aboriginal land that was protected under law.
The way the NT Intervention was perceived within the Australian media strengthened support for the Howard government to re-colonise remote Aboriginal communities. The false claims of pedophile rings, as reported by Lateline, played a role in creating false perceptions of problems occurring within Indigenous communities, and was generally accepted within white Australia (Moreton-Robinson 2015, pp. 155-6). The biggest issue with the journalism displayed on Lateline was the blurred individual who claimed to be a youth worker in the communities. The individual later turned out to be a staff member for the NT Chief Minister (Kacha 2009 pp. 13-14). This strengthens the idea that the Commonwealth Government collaborated with government funded media corporations such as the ABC, to encourage white Australia to accept the actions the neoliberal government would take to resolve the false issues displayed, further disadvantaging Indigenous people’s perception and their communities. Neoliberal imperial policies were then enforced to systematically control the behavior and discipline the Indigenous people, allowing for unlawful legislation that was not compatible with international human right laws, one of which included the right to self-determination (Wahlquist, 2017). With these breaches of human rights, the Howard government could legally mine uranium which would bring advantages to the Australian economy; however, it would disadvantage Aboriginal communities by exploitating their land and resources.
10 years after the NT Intervention, Australian social scientist Helen Caldicott concluded that the primary ambitions of the NT Intervention had nothing to do with sexual abuse, but rather the removal of Indigenous land rights which was facilitated by the mining of uranium in the region and its exportation overseas for economic growth. Because Australia holds 40% of the world’s recoverable uranium, most of which lies on Aboriginal land protected under the Native Title Act and Aboriginal Land Rights Act, Australian economists believed it would benefit Australia’s economy and increase the country’s relationships with China, Russia and India, who were all interested in purchasing this recoverable nuclear energy (Kacha 2009, pp. 62-64). This can statistically be displayed by uranium exportation increasing by 16% between 2007 and 2008 in the NT following the reforms made by the Intervention (Gibson, 2009). However, there is no indication on whether it would benefit the Aboriginal communities surrounding these mines. This disadvantages communities because of the radioactive waste that would inadvertently be produced from mining uranium, and allowing it to be dumped on Aboriginal land was no longer protected by the Aboriginal Land Rights Act within the NT, as seen withthe dumping facility located on Muckaty Station (Toohey, 2014). This suggests to NT Aboriginal communities that the Commonwealth Government does not take their best interests into consideration when it comes to the dumping of toxic waste and the consequent environmental damage surrounding the dumps. This further indicates the disadvantages Aboriginal communities have faced since these assimilatory reforms have been introduced as part of the NT Intervention. With increased interest in economic productivity and exploitation of Indigenous land, Indigenous communities fell victim to the pressures of systematic control. This saw a massive increase in the prison population of Indigenous men, doubling the rate of incarceration prior to the NT Intervention (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016).
The prison-industrial complex (PIC) is a set of private prison corporations that act as a for-profit company on behalf of the state. They are contracted by neoliberal government agencies to produce consumer goods by prison labor and help benefit the country’s economy and corporations’ profit (Davis 1998, pp. 3-4). The PIC allows private capital to become imbedded in the prison industry and mass incarceration to triumph in low socio-economic communities around the world (Russell, 1997). It is important to note that in Australia private prisons are becoming the norm, and I believe it will affect Indigenous Australians for future generations as they continue to be over-represented in the prison system as the highest incarcerated demographic people in the world, at a rate of 2,346 per 100,000 (Australian Bureau Statistics, 2017).
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However, the United States (US) has the largest number of private prisons in the world and second highest demographic incarceration rate, with African Americans representing 2,207 prisoners per 100,000 (Bureau of Justice, 2010). This could arguably be because of the failed attempt on the “war against drugs” that was pioneered by the Reagan administration in the late 1980s. The administration specifically targeted low-socio economic African Americans because of the rampant crack-cocaine epidemic that was taking place throughout their communities (Webb 1998, pp. 239-240). It is important to note that Australia currently has nine private prisons, with two operating in the NT. These nine private prisons house 18.5% of the prison population of Australia, and will continue to rise as they play a large role in the custodial system (Andrew, Baker & Roberts 2016, pp. 7-8). Additionally, the Corrections Company of Australia is equally owned by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) who benefit from increased incarceration rates with the “war on drugs” into private prisons and helped spread anti-drug propaganda with the help of the Reagan administration (McMahon, 2016).This suggests both the US Federal Government and the CCA conspired to put African Americans inside private prisons to gain private capital. It could be argued that the NT Intervention was similarly used as a way of stigmatizing Aboriginal people into private prisons.
The literature of Aboriginal people incarcerated within private prisons is very limited, as a result my theories come from speculation, based on the observations with literature provided on African Americans in private prisons, and the assimilation within the NT Intervention that led to Aboriginal incarceration. In the NT, 90% of the prison population consists of Indigenous Australians, making them heavily over-represented. With this statistic, we can assume that the two private prisons located in the NT are predominantly filled with Indigenous prisoners (Terzon & Zilman, 2016). Since the NT Intervention, the neoliberal state government may have targeted Aboriginal people in a way that made them commit felonies and inevitably forced them into private or state prisons. This was strengthened when the state police were given power under the NT Intervention to enter homes without a warrant on Aboriginal land. This allowed officers to search for prohibited contraband such as pornography and alcohol under the NT Liquor Act. Additionally, if caught, Aboriginal people could be sentenced to six months jail for a single can of beer (Gibson, 2017). With these restrictions being enforced in the communities, Aboriginal people were more likely to reoffend once coming out of jail. One study found that 55% of prisoners returned within a two-year period, indicating a pattern of repeat offending (Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities 2010, pp. 2-5). Because alcohol was contraband, individuals often consumed it in unregulated areas away from their communities where it was legal. One example is the town camps inside Alice Springs, a site which reportedly sees more abuse and violence leading to the incarceration of perpetrators. Indigenous people are systematically designed to be repeat offenders and in-housed in the prison system whether private or state. (Kacha 2009, pp. 62-64). With Indigenous people being monitored through neoliberal frameworks, they are unable to practice self-determination. This is because of the propaganda spread through the media, insinuating that the government ‘needs’ to help the Indigenous communities based on the deficit model which justifies the incarceration rate spikes (Tuck 2009, pp. 410- 413).
Indigenous struggles continue to be controlled through neoliberal frameworks and are justified through models of success and advantage, leading to a disadvantage and struggle for self-determinism in Indigenous people’s context (Stanton, Adachi & Huijser 2015, p. 108). This is a major concern within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNRIP), which outlines the right for self-determination, education policy, sovereignty and intellectual property amongst Indigenous people (Tuck 2009, pp. 410- 413). Given that every country except Australia, the United States, Canada and New Zealand has signed the declaration, this supports the idea of these countries favoring neoliberal corporatism over First Nations sovereignty. Because of the false perception displayed in the Australian media, Indigenous people throughout the NT collectively need to overcome the deficit stereotypes of being a “primitive” culture. However, deficit models allowed white Australia to see the Indigenous culture at a vulnerable state and being unable to self- govern.The deficit model as described by Eve Tuck (2009, p. 413) emphasizes the underachievement or failure within communities. Using this theory, we can acknowledge that neoliberal ideologies such as the NT Intervention led to a deficit model in which communities were disadvantaged as they could not practice self-determination on their own terms. Moreover, the deficit model allows the perception of Indigenous culture to be lacking, reinforcing the neoliberal government’s need to intervene and allow neocolonialism to take place inside Indigenous communities.
The campaign known as ‘Closing the Gap’ was developed a year after the NT Intervention to statistically put Indigenous people on the same trajectory as white Australia in terms of health and life expectancy. To revive self-determination in Indigenous communities in the NT, Jeff Corntassel believes that communities collectively need to restore the Indigenous presence, agricultural practices (which are protected under the Native Title Act), traditional diets, and better communication between Elders and community (Conrtassel 2012 pp. 12-14). This allows better practice of the culture, knowledge, spiritual teachings, and the practice of land-based economics, allowing communities to work independently and alongside the neoliberal government to build a better life for themselves (Corntassel 2012, pp. 12-14). We can only hope that neoliberal governments work cooperatively to build economic value for the NT communities allowing them to self govern and reach equilibrium together instead of intervening for their own interests (with the help of corporate interests).
It is evident that the Indigenous people and communities of the NT are not only systematically disadvantaged, but also targeted by neoliberal government agendas by allowing corporate interests to gain further profits by exploiting the sacred land that was legally owned by the Indigenous people and protected under law. The widespread propaganda by the ABC perpetuated a false perception of the NT Indigenous people, and glorified the negative impacts of the intervention which justified individuals constantly entering the prison system whether it be state or private. Lastly, the struggle for self-determination will always be present through deficit models, which acknowledges the fact that the Indigenous communities are disadvantaged by neoliberal governments who do not allow the practice of self-governance.
- Andrew, J., Baker, M., Roberts, P. (2016). ‘Prison Privatization in Australia’ The State of the Nation Accountability, Costs, Performance and Efficiency 2016 pp. 7-8.
- Bastiat, F. (1850) ‘The Law’ Merchant Books translated by Patrick James Stirling p.29.
- Contassel, J. (2012). ‘Re-envisioning resurgence: Indigenous pathways to decolonization and sustainable self-determination’ Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society pp. 12-14.
- Moreton-Robinson, Aileen (2015). ‘Imagining the Good Indigenous Citizen,’ in The White Possessive: Property, Power and Indigenous Sovereignty, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp. 153-72.
- Russell, S. (1997). ‘Private Prisons for Private Profit’ Alternative Law Journal. Retrieved from: http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AltLawJl/1997/3.pdf.
- Tuck, E. (2009). ‘Suspending Damage: A letter to communities’ Harvard educational Review’: 79(3) pp 2-5.
- Webb, G. (1998). Dark Alliance: the CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion. New York : London :Seven Stories Press ; Turnaround, 1999. Print. pp. 239-240.
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Group photograph 5 people. From top left : Tom Mylne, Craige Torens, Hunhak (Matt) Gale, Banok Rind, Chris McKay.
These photos were taken at one of the Indigenous Graduate Student Association (IGSA) gatherings. The IGSA was formed by students who decided there was a need for representation at a graduate level.
With the support of the University’s Murrup Barak In- stitute for Indigenous Development and Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development, they formed this student-led representative body.
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Six solo photographs of Chris McKay, Banok Rind, Tom Mylne, Banok Rind, Banok Rind and Hunhak (Matt) Gale
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January Twenty What?
History textbooks recall a heroic narrative of Australia’s founding; a valiant British explorer, Captain James Cook, navigated the oceans and ‘discovered’ Australia in 1770 before 11 British ships – the First Fleet – arrived on the shores of the Eora Nation (Port Jackson, Sydney) on January 26, 1788 and planted the Union Jack. Look beyond the pages of these textbooks however and you will soon uncover an alternate story, one which recognises the landing of the First Fleet as the beginning of the violent invasion of Australia and the brutal oppression and genocide of Aboriginal people.
Today, January 26 commemorates the annual national public holiday celebration “Australia Day”. Notably, the historical origins of Australia Day are largely silenced by a contemporary rhetoric which espouses uplifting sentiments of celebrating Australian land, lifestyle, freedom, and democratic values. These alternate narratives and understandings of January 26 inform equally dichotomous opinions on how the date should or should not be celebrated.
Depending on one’s position, January 26 is referred to as either “Australia Day”, “Invasion Day”, “Survival Day” and/or “Day of Mourning”. Each year thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and community allies attend rallies around the nation in resistance to “Australia Day” celebrations.
Although united in a single protest, participants support different perspectives; some advocate the date of “Australia Day” be changed so all people in Australia may respectfully participate in celebrations (“Change the Date”), others want the celebration abolished entirely (“Abolish the Date”), and some call for January 26 to be a “Day of Mourning” commemorating the injustice inflicted on Aboriginal people.
This piece serves to introduce readers to discussions surrounding January 26 through the various perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The following excerpts are lifted from responses to a survey distributed amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in March 2019. My own opinions have been withheld to empower the voices of others in the community. Mobs are included only to highlight the diversity of opinions across the nation; comments are those of individuals and do not represent the opinions of entire language groups.
WHAT DOES JANUARY 26 MEAN TO YOU?
“January 26 is supposed to be a multi-cultural celebration of Australia… For this reason, I have and will continue to call it Australia Day. However, I would like to see greater Indigenous awareness of this day, acknowledging the hardships we’ve overcome… I do not align with the change the date protests… The way to make it better is to have greater Indigenous acknowledgement as changing the date does not change the history”. – Gumbaynggirr
“I’ve never understood the need for a day of ‘nationalism’ for a country that is so disembodied in terms of cultural homogeneity. Colonial culture is still so young in this country, and immigrant population is so large that it makes no sense to have a day that isn’t focused on the evolution of ‘Australian values’. I rally against ‘Australia Day’ on January 26… I feel heavy every time I do it; it means I have to remember the gross disrespect that our country has for Indigenous peoples”. – Palawa
“Celebrating us – our people’s survival and resilience in overcoming the odds and enacting change within broader white Australia… Only in the last two years in Melbourne have I ever done anything. In the past I was always out bush, so it was just another day. My family don’t really get involved much with any celebrations in general – we real slack. Changing the date is the respectable thing to do. There is a lot to celebrate in Australia and we are home to many migrant families escaping tougher situations in their home country who want/need an opportunity to gather and celebrate this country. If the date was to change, I advocate for May 8”. – Jaru
“I’ve had an interesting upbringing around January 26. I grew up in the Torres Strait where we’d often celebrate the day. Kids would go to school with little Australian flags painted on their face; it was a day of celebration. I don’t know if this was because of a shortfall in knowledge of the day, but I personally never learnt the true meaning of January 26 until I moved to the mainland. Even then, I was still celebrating. Attending a predominately white Catholic boarding school meant I was constantly surrounded by Anglo people, which definitely affected my thinking. It wasn’t until I left high school and started learning more and connecting more with my Aboriginal brothers and sisters that I started to educate myself on the topic. I don’t know where along the line the disconnect happened or how my thought pattern changed, but I’m glad that I can now say that I’m a staunch supporter against the celebration of January 26”. – Kulkalgal Nation
“I call it survival day. To me it is a day to reflect on everything that we as First Nations people have overcome, and everything that we have achieved in spite of colonisation. I used to attend the marches protesting Australia Day, because I was angry about it. I was angry about everything that had happened to my Ancestors and the injustices that are still happening today… A lot of people don’t understand how recent these events were. My grandmother was part of the stolen generation and I feel that pain… It’s not just knowing about what happened to her that causes hurt, inter-generational trauma affects us all and unless some real changes happen that hurt won’t get any better. I feel like abolishing Australia Day – and changing it from what I feel is a disrespectful celebration – to a day of mourning (what is has been for First Nations people for a long time) is a small price to pay towards a better future for all Australians”. – Wangkathaa and Wudjari
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January Twenty What? (continued)
“I prefer Survival Day over Invasion Day. Invasion can have connotations of two willing belligerents, but the ‘invasion’ of Australia, to me, is more aptly described as the genocide by a foreign power toward several hundred sovereign First Nations. My family has never celebrated the day, especially with a family history largely descending from Aboriginal women, the day is about surviving… January 26 is like any other day of the year for us, which like many Indigenous Australians, is a story of survival. I would prefer to see the date changed, as opposed to abolished… An ‘Australia Day’ can still be a useful tool for celebration, perhaps about Indigenous histories and knowledge, and can also be a celebration of all Australians, as long as it is outside Jan 26. I think if, and when, Australia becomes a republic, that day would be a great day to not celebrate, but reflect on Australia’s colonial and pre-colonial history, including the atrocities. Without the official ties to a foreign monarchy, Australia *should* be free to openly criticise its systematic injustice in our history”. – Wiradjuri
“We used to celebrate January 26 because I had a lot of non-Indigenous cousins on my father’s side who would visit. This doesn’t happen as much anymore, so my family mostly refer to it as Invasion/Survival Day… I support changing the date because if keeping it the same hurts people, but changing it hurts no one, I don’t see a reason you wouldn’t change it. Is it really celebrating Australia, if it’s not a date every Australian can celebrate?”. – Gunai/Kurnai
WHAT DO YOU HOPE NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE DO ON JANUARY 26?
“I hope non-Indigenous people understand our hardships and acknowledge the wrongs that were made throughout history… But, ultimately we all come together to celebrate the achievements we’ve made and the mateships we’ve formed, though our histories have been different”. – Gumbaynggirr
“The goal is always for non-Indigenous people to facilitate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices to be heard. It’s always uplifting to see non-Indigenous people attending marches, because those tend to be focused on numbers, but I view march attendance as ‘the bar’ for how January 26th should be spent at this point”. – Palawa
“Definitely attend a march that way they increase their chances of having a meaningful conversation with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person which can hopefully educate them as to why this date is highly offensive”. – Jaru
“I honestly just hope we’re given the respect to be heard and to have a discussion with non-Indigenous Australia, rather than always being attacked. We need to have a discussion. There’s no point in marching for something just because WE understand it as Aboriginal mob. We need to realise that the white man’s history is taught compulsory; ours is taught as an elective. These people literally have no clue what we’re marching for or why we feel the way we do. They need to be educated, the schools and government isn’t going to do it for us”. – Wiradjuri
“I think education is the key. The best way they can educate themselves is by genuinely listening. They can attend marches and reject merchandise and the like, but we have to make sure that it’s done for the right reasons. Some people like to protest for the sake of protesting, march for the sake of marching. This is not the hot item to be treated as some sort of trend… Real action doesn’t come from that, it comes from slowly educating non-Indigenous people, one at a time, and this can only happen if they allow themselves to be educated and be open to listening and learning”. – Kulkalgal Nation
“Nothing. I would hope that non-Indigenous peoples live the day as if it were not of national significance. Using the day to ‘educate friends’ or reject certain merchandise implies that isn’t necessary for the other 364 days of the year. In a climate rife with tokenism and face-value conversations about the true Australian history, there needs to be more done than our actions on one particular day of the year”. – Wiradjuri
“When I see all the merchandise on Australia Day, I feel uneasy and unwelcome around the people who wear it… What I want most is for people to educate themselves first… know what has happened and understand why we don’t want to celebrate. Listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is the most important thing on that day, get to know your local community and Traditional Owners and understand what they want to happen on that day; respect their wishes”. – Wangkathaa and Wudjari
“If non-Indigenous people agree to change the date, they can do whatever they want on Australia Day. But, if they don’t, I think it’s their job to educate themselves on the history [to understand] why this day has so many bad implications and offends so many Indigenous people… If they don’t want to claim that history as their own because they don’t identify with the labels of “settler” and “coloniser” or they use the phrase “But I didn’t do the invading” then I argue that they therefore have no connection to the current date and should be okay with changing it. A day off is a day off, but it shouldn’t celebrate a tragedy”. – Gunai/Kurnai
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A Storm as I Remember
Mum and I sit on the balcony
thick metallic clouds
Swollen bellies of water
ready to deliver life.
Black cockatoos sing their warning
red bellies perfect circles against
grey skies and green bush.
Mum says they interpret the weather
six waylards she sees
six days of rain there will be.
The waylards veer left over the gums
heading for the mountains
draped in grey woolly blankets.
Blunt knife cuts the sky
trees shake like animals
with each word of thunder.
A grumble above,
coughing clouds the smell of rain
Mum and I stick out our arms.
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i. Deep in the valley
roaming leaf matter
attached to paper hands
wave in the wind
sting of mandarin
glowing on the
crest of the hill.
ii. Doped up koala
caught between branches
sticky claws scratch sinew
leaf oh so close
snatched without heed
chromium crumpled in
fists squished into mouth
chomped and chewed
an ongoing cycle.
iii. Paper weight
thumbtack on a
amongst the debris
of an enduring battle
between human and waste
brush the tippy top
of a rusted roof
tickle the back
of a confused magpie.
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Drawing of a curvy woman’s body wearing purple underwear.
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Drawing of a curvy woman’s body wearing orange underwear
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Made of white flesh and deep roots
Striking – against a landscape
of red and brown. Apart and part of.
Hidden among darkness…despite it’s
There is culture carved into your bark, flowing in your blood,
but it’s painted over with white skin.
Tell me. Does it speak louder than history?
They expect brown flesh, when all they ever did, was strip it from our trunks.
We were uprooted. Planted in new, unfamiliar soil.
Now three percent is all that’s left of us
I wear the face of the people who tried to erase us
because they cut us down, and we grew back different.
“Are you a gum tree?” they ask.
1 half, 1 third, a quarter,
mixed with some
I am my history.
I am what you made me.
A remnant of the STOLEN.
is the ghosts
of my ancestors.
They haunt me now, in anger
in anguish I ask you, as I ask them:
Does being stripped of colour
make me any less than what I am?
I wonder. Am I still part of the Dreamtime?
Or in the wake of a nightmare?
Both an after image of the lost
and an after-thought of the liviing
Little ghost gum,
Do you still know your roots?
Or have they been bleached? Left to wither, forgotten.
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Speech at Parliament
A speech at the gates of Parliament House on the occasion of the establishment of First Nations seats in both the Upper and Lower Houses of the Australian Parliament.
“I would like to start by acknowledging the sovereign owners of the land we meet upon today, the Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
To honour my people, I’d like to greet you in my language. Yaama ngadju mardin. Yaama garrangurru. Ngadhu Kooma. Ngadhu Guwamu. Ngadju yamba dhudhunga Cunnamulla-nga St George-ga. Ngadju Guwamu wurrbanja Willin.
Which means hello everyone, hello to my people. I am Kooma of the Guwamu Nation. My Country is between Cunnamulla and St George. My language name is Willin.
Today’s announcement of a dedicated seat in both the Upper and Lower Houses of the Parliament of Australia for the fair representation of First Nations peoples is indeed momentous. It is the realisation of the dream we dared to dream in the Statement from the Heart.
It has been a long time coming. In 1967, Australians voted in favour of amending the Australian Constitution to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the census and give the Australian Government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The referendum promised a turning point in the history of our democracy. While it was but a symbolic turning point, it revealed a widespread desire for Indigenous equality in Australia. It was a great beacon of light and hope to thousands of First Nations people. Hope for my people, people who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice: institutionalised racism, genocide, and exclusion from the social and economic advantages of the so-called lucky country.
While this day has been more than 230 years in the making, while it comes too many decades after the referendum and its promise of hope, and while there is still much work to be done, that promise is, in part, being delivered upon today. Those flames are being doused today.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain disproportionately under-represented in political and other decision- making processes. It is understandable that First Nations people have felt frustrated by that lack of representation. In order to respond to the needs of First Nations people; higher mortality rates, lower educational attainment and higher unemployment rates; we must be afforded meaningful participation, meaningful leadership, in decision making processes.
That participation is being delivered today. That leadership is being delivered today. The frustration of our people begins to ease today. In time, the under-representation of our leaders and the over-representation of our people in measures of socio-economic disadvantage, will begin to turn. With First Nation participation and leadership, we will make it turn.
It is my passionate belief that a healthy and effective democracy is a reflection of an included and active citizenry. Of course, First Nations peoples already heavily contribute to civic and political life. Sometimes that has arisen from adversity. How many of us have marched the streets in protest of yet another tragically preventable death in custody? Sometimes it has arisen from the privilege of a great education, opportunities to participate, the right to speak, a place to be heard.
That opportunity is being afforded to all First Nations people today through dedicated representatives in Parliament. The right and place to speak has been enshrined in our political system.
For me personally, it makes sense of a long, dark silence. My Country, Kooma Country, is good grazing Country. For a long time, it was home to the biggest and most profitable station in the southern hemisphere. For that reason, my people were driven from their homelands into surrounding missions or put to work on Cubbie Cubbie and surrounding stations.
Part of the Stolen Generations, many of my Ancestors knew the hardship of living under the Aboriginal Protection Act. Removal from their families, stolen wages, begging for the freedom to move from town to town, to take a job or to marry, were all features of that protection.
And now, here we stand, in the light, in the same house that drafted that Act, with our own voice.
Let this day be a reminder. Let us remember that the word ‘politics’ comes from the Greek, ‘politikos’, which means simply “of, for, or relating to citizens… the people”. Today, that includes us. All of us.”
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A Father, Cactus, and Reflections
Three photographs. Photograph of a man holding a lamb, close up photograph of cactus and close up photograph of water with ripples and reflection of sky .
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Bindarray runs like the emu,
Bindarray slithers like the snake,
Bindarray hums like the cicadas,
Bindarray stops like the kangaroo,
Bindarray flows like the blood
Bindarray spits like the human
Bindarray dries like the skin
Bindarray disappears like the culture
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1. A tired house sits
in the middle of the street
under a kingfisher sky
milk bottle carcasses stricken
by an old-fashioned thumping scat-
ter across churned lawn.
2. Seven mughal jarjums
crammed inside the wooden womb
pilfer through its crevices
stealing and concealing treasures
clamber up the frangipani tree
pinching flowers from roots.
3. Uncle Jalum hides
in the concrete belly
slap steel strings to his stamp
un sst sst un sst un sst sst un sst
music pervades the dampened halls
their protector momentarily
lost in splendour.
4. Upstairs, the jarjums
swim through sheets sweet of naphthalene
in the sea between the skinny hallway walls
marinated with sap crusted fingerprints
wage warfare on limbs with fingernail ammo
and stinky sock bombs
spit words that split bonds
soldered at brekky time.
5. Aunty Marce droops low in the
her walnut skin
sucks in the yellow gut of the kingfisher
one ear surrenders
to the lorikeets golden songs
as the other
sleuths the sounds of the jarjums
debauched by her absence.
You better hope yah gammon or yah
gonna get a smack!
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CONTENT WARNING: this piece contains references to Black supression and racisim.
Over the past couple of months, we have seen numerous racist and ignorant acts performed by the archetype ‘Karen’ that have been called out through social media as a result of a stream of footage that’s become increasingly more violent and disturbing. Technology and more specifically social media have become both a tool and a weapon, quickly used to call the police but to also record proof that Black people are not the aggressor or perpetrator in these exchanges. We now see ‘Karen’s’ everywhere, and many people are quick to use the term when referring to a racist act. However, it brings to question where this term originated, how we use it, and should we really be using it?
The term Karen originated in the last few years to describe middle aged white women who would act entitled and obnoxious in public situations. It is an extension of the famous ‘can I speak to the manager haircut’ which seeped everywhere online and even managed to be turned into a Halloween costume. Although these memes are distinctively known, the exact origination of the term ‘Karen’ is quite hard to pinpoint. An earlier version of ‘Karen’ was seen in the 2004 film Mean Girls, which we all remember watching. This ‘Karen’ character was known for this classic line “Oh my god, Karen, you can’t just ask people why they’re white”. The use of a basic name to refer to and mock a group of people has been well document throughout history and across cultures. Let’s not forget about ‘Becky’ with the good hair.
There has been a wide array of ‘Karen’s’ recently, from the white woman, Amy Cooper, who called the police on a Black man in Central Park who had asked her to leash her dog, to the woman, Lisa Alexander, who called the police on a person of colour for writing ‘Black Lives Matter’ with chalk on his own property. On the Internet and through headlines, these women are most recognized as the ‘Central Park Karen’ and ‘San Francisco Karen’. Memes have the potential to spread to a wide range of people online and expose them to something new. The term has highlighted, emphasised and confronted the violence of white womanhood and exemplified white fragility as coined by Robin DiAngelo. This begs the question: are we protecting their identity by using these terms? Are these women allowed anonymity because we aren’t saying their names? Did you know their real names before reading this article? Assigning these women nicknames grants them a level of anonymity and belittles what they’ve done.
Usually, the ‘Karen’ meme is associated with lower risk situations where the consequence isn’t a person’s life, (such as a white woman complaining her meal is wrong and making a scene), not serious situations of racial power dynamics, silence, and elitism. Often the comedic value of these memes overshadows the realness of what’s happening and allows people to gaslight and undermine the real tensions that exist. The continued public assault on Black people, particularly Black men by white women, needs to be addressed appropriately. Specifically, how white women are weaponizing racial anxiety and white femininity to position themselves as a victim and activate terror on Black men. By making themselves the victim, they don’t have to take responsibility for what they are actually doing.
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Tawny feathered, frogged mouth aunty
We are from
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How Do You Spell That?
“Countries have got all names on it. Not given today, when non-Aboriginal people c[a]me, it was given in Traditional Creation Time. And that name has…remained [for] centuries and centuries…The names are part of the Story for that Land.” Margaret Kemarre (MK) Turner, Iwenhe Tyerrtye, p. 9.
Working with the Frances Derham collection at the University of Melbourne Archives in Semester 2, 2019, I noticed a plethora of spelling variations for numerous Aboriginal language groups in the central Australian desert region. The most prominent groups that reappeared throughout the segments of the collection I analysed were Arrernte, Pintupi, and Pitjantjatjara.
As an Eastern Arrernte woman, I’ve grown up spelling and identifying my mob as “A-r-r-e-r-n-t-e”. While some of the Derham collection’s material mirrored this, the majority favoured “A-r-a-n-d-a”. While I have found some people incorrectly pronounce Arrernte when it is spelt this way, rolling the two r’s, Aranda seems more outdated, an older form initially generated by white anthropologists in an attempt to identify this group phonetically. Consequently, I have found this risks people who read Aranda aloud pronouncing it incorrectly, making it rhyme with “veranda” when it should be articulated as “uh-rrahn-da”. However, while I favour the new spelling, others like my mum and nanna stick with Aranda, the way they were taught growing up and the form that, for them, continues to best represent their connection to our mob. In addition to Arrernte and Aranda, there were a few instances in the collection where the word was dictated as “A-r-u-n-t-a”, an even older term according to my mum. While Arrernte is considered the most ‘modern’ and updated term, this does not invalidate the use or importance of Aranda and Arunta to mob from my language group because each generation was taught differently.
The Pintupi people of the Western Desert also had distinctly different spellings in Derham’s records. While the most ‘modern’ spelling is “P-i-n-t-u-p-i”, “P-i-n-t-u-b-i” was frequently featured in newspaper clippings and personal letters. Likewise, Pitjantjatjara mob were spelt as “P-i-t-j-a-n-t-j-a-t-j-a-r-a” and “P-i-t-j-a-n-t-j-a-r-a” throughout the collection. While I’d normally be quick to assume the latter spelling of these two language groups was outdated and perhaps even insensitive, knowing that for my own mob there are people who continue to identify with older spelling, I am constantly considering the significance of both forms to members of these Aboriginal communities.
Because we are an oral culture, reliant on verbal communication to continue learning from Elders and engage with cultural practices, does how we spell Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups even matter? I would say yes, it does. Given our voices were suppressed as a result of colonisation and we continue to combat oppression and systemic racism, having a say about how our language is broken down with English letters to best represent its true pronunciation and meaning, how it is dictated, and how it is transcribed in books to educate future generations is certainly our responsibility and well within our rights.
Arrernte, Pintupi, and Pitjantjatjara thus demonstrate that while there may be ‘modern’ spellings of Aboriginal language groups, this does necessarily mean all Aboriginal people identify with or favour these terms. It is important to consider all possible spellings and what they may mean to different generations of First Nations people. The AIATSIS AUSTLANG site is an excellent resource that lists all historical spellings, associated tribes, and landmarks for a particular language group. It is also important to talk to mob, if possible, from the group you are referencing, to gauge direct insight about what the spelling of their mob means to them.
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Your toes tread eagerly by the foamed edges
Your body enveloped whole as you’re kneaded into the tide
Your energy rises as you soak in the salty ebbs and flows
Your soul awakened by her cold and sharp powers
You are home (Dharawal)
Dry dirt painting your feet
As vibrations pull you along the riverbed of mothers
You feel the age old stories
The birds tell you in their songs
You are home (Gamilaroi)
Red Bluff is calling, with a rare bright sun
Cycle fast as the eagle flies
Red rock rising, with winds that swirl your curls
Salt water will heal you here too
You are home (Boon Wurrung)
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Two photographs; Black and white photograph of a beach, and black and white photograph of a hillside on the shore of a beach.
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Two page image spread, Black and white photograph of a tree trunk.
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second of two page spread, Black and white photograph of a tree trunk.
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HERE ARE SOME GOOD WINTER MEALS THAT ARE PACKED WITH FLAVOUR, FRUIT, OR PROTEIN. ALL RECIPES ARE TASTY, QUICK, AND EASY MEALS TO COOK OR BLEND ON THOSE BUSY DAYS. WE HOPE YOU ENJOY TRYING THESE RECIPES AND HAVE A BIT OF FUN IN THE KITCHEN.
Illustration of dumplings.
Pork & Prawn Dumplings
- 500g pork mince
- 200g cooked prawns
- 4 stalks of spring onion
- 1⁄2 red onion
- 2 tbsp chives
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1tbsp ginger
- 1tbsp fish sauce
- 1tbsp sesame oil
- 1tbsp mirin
- 1tbsp sake
- Dash of sriracha
- 1 cup water
- Dumpling wrappers (1 pack of 50)
- Chop red onion, spring onion, and garlic and set aside.
- Grate ginger and set aside.
- Remove prawn tails and roughly dice.
- Combine mince, diced prawns, spring onion, red onion, chives, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, sesame oil, mirin, sake and sriracha in a large mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to season.
- Grab 1 dumpling wrapper and spoon 1 tbsp of mixture into the centre.
- Use water to wet the edges and fold the edges together.
- Once all dumplings are assembled, steam or fry.
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Winter Fuel (continued)
Illustration of chicken skewers.
- 500g chicken (breast or thigh)
- 1⁄2 cup of yoghurt
- 1⁄4 lemon juice
- 1⁄4 olive oil
- Measure garlic with love
- 1 tbsp of tomato paste
- 1 tsp of paprika
- 3⁄4 tsp cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tsp oregano
- 1⁄2 tsp ginger
- Salt and pepper
- Place chicken and all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together.
- Cover and allow it to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Add the chicken to skewers and begin grilling on bbq or pan.
- Add chicken to fresh side salad or place into wrap.
Illustration of a smoothie
Berry & Ginger Immune Boost Smoothie
- 50g raw oats
- 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yoghurt
- Small piece of ginger
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 medium banana (frozen or fresh)
- 2 apricots (canned or fresh) 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- 250ml unsweetened almond milk
- Handful of ice (optional)
- Place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.
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Pause & Refocus
Self care is not selfish.
Life can get frantic and you may feel like everything is getting on top of you, especially during a pandemic. This page will help you take a step back, appreciate the things and people around you, and offer some small activities you can try to stay calm when things are too overwhelming.
Firstly, come into a comfortable seated position.
Relax your neck, move your shoulders in a circle and away from your ears.
Let your arms drop to the side.
Place one hand just below your belly button.
Focus on your breathing.
Inhale deeply, and as you do be aware of how your belly rises.
Exhale slowly, try not to tense up your muscles. Again notice how your belly falls with each exahale.
Count to three or four as you inhale and then again as you exhale.
Repeat the process four or five times, and notice how the tension leaves your body.
Begin with just five minutes a day, and increase your time as the exercise becomes easier and more comfortable.
If you practice this everyday, for a few moments, it can become a useful way to relase tension, worries, and stress.
Create a space in your daily routine to sit in quiet reflection. Grab your journal and start writing, freely. Just do a brain dump. Bad grammar, bad spelling, incomplete sentences: it is all good.
It is helpful to write out any grudges, mistakes you are holding about past things, and fears, worries, and anxieties about the future. When you get all of those swirling subjects out of your mind and leave them on the page, you will be surprised at how many clear, inspired ideas will come next.
Within a few minutes or a few days, you will know what project you want to focus on first. Maybe it’s your book or a passion project you’ve never had time for, or maybe you just want to do some self- discovery.
Here are a few journaling prompts to help:
- My core values are?
- Positive affirmations to use each day.
- Ways to spread kindness to those I cannot connect with physically.
- What is holding me back right now from feeling a small bit of happiness in each day?
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Pause and refocus (continued)
Practice your passion
The current pandemic and lockdown has forced most of us to be outside of the house a lot less than normal, freeing up our commute time, stopping us from socialising, or, in the worst cases, ending our jobs on zero notice.
While you have some spare time and perhaps the headspace to start something new, try completing that passion you’ve always put off. It is also a useful way to take a break from work or studying and to get back into the things you loved doing – whether that be cooking, knitting, rearranging your room or playing an instrument.
- Rest – Do not jump straight into it. Take a pause before you start trying to get a bunch of stuff done.
- Create a space – Get rid of things in your physical space that no longer work, fit, excite you, or otherwise serve you.
- Do not hold expectations – Just allow yourself to do something with joy.
- Keep your creativity flowing and get lost in your passion.
Family, friends, pets? Write down anything you are grateful for.
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Following on from our last volume and the editorial team’s deadly incorporation of this section, we have decided to continue to recognise some of the amazing Blak Queer mob around the University. We continue to encourage people to engage with each other and share their stories, as it creates a positive impact on our community. We want to ensure we keep an open dialogue about sexuality, gender, identity, sex, and the media by exploring those individual voices and making sure they are heard!
CONTENT WARNING: this piece contains references to white supremacy, queerphobia, and oppression.
Name: Jessie (Yorta Yorta name: Duta) Ferrari
Mob: Yorta Yorta and Bangerang
Studying: Bachelor of Science, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Major
As a Queer Unimelb student, how has your experience been studying here and living at a college? I found that studying at UniMelb as a Queer Indigenous person can often be isolating, and it is easy to be over looked, silenced and tokenised. Often Queer spaces on campus are only accessible to white and cis LGBTQI+ people and it is easy to feel that you don’t have any place in these spaces. That being said, I have the fire to continue on with my study and degrees through the passion to make Queer spaces accessible and safe for all Queer people. There is no one way of being Queer; we are as diverse as any other identity. We are all valid and we all matter.
Do you believe the University Campus and College has provided enough engagement, services, and collectives for the Queer community? There are sevices and collectives for the Queer community at large, but not any for BIPOC, in particular Indigenous and Bla(c)k Queer students. These spaces need to be decolonised and made a safer space for Queer BIPOC people as we suffer from multiple forms of oppression and face extra barriers to education and support services that our Queer white cis counterparts do not.
Who is someone from the Queer community that you admire? There are so many amazing Queer Babes that I most admire and look up to, so it is hard to pick just one! The person who I think has had the most impact on how I feel about myself as a Queer perosn and inspired me to be myself, challenge the status quo, and make change would be my amazing Sib and Brother Boy Hayden Moon. Hayden has done so much for Indigenous Trans Mob in so called “Australia.” They are such a powerful, articulate, and compassionate person who tirelessly fights to give Queer, and in particular Queer BIPOC and disabled people, a voice and the access to basic human rights that systemic structures in this society block us off from.
What does your Queerness mean to you? To be proudly and unapologetically myself. To love who I want, to dress and to identify however I want. I exist outside the rigid gender binary enforced upon me by cishetnormativity and white supremacy.
Do you have any good recommendations for queer shows/movies or books? TV shows:
Sex Education, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Ru Paul Drag Race, Steven Universe, Queer Eye, The Legend of Korra (has a Bisexual couple) and Pose.
Books: Hoodwitch: Poems by Faylita Hicks, Black. Queer. Southern. Women.: An Oral History by Patrick Johnson, No tea, No Shad: New Writings In Black Queer Studies by E.Patrick Johnson, How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Percy Jackson and the Olynpians, Heroes of Olympus, Trials of Apollo and Magnus Chase series by Rick Riordan (has some Queer characters).
Comics: Runaways, Raven: The Pirate Princess.
Video Games: Dragon Age series, Mass Effect series, Fallout series, Stardew Valley, nearly all the Play Choices games, my favourite being the Blades of Light and Shadow Book games, Dream Daddy, Overwatch, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
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A Story of Bisexuality
CONTENT WARNING: this piece contains references to biphobia and identity struggles.
In my early twenties I realised I was bisexual. It was then that I began to truly notice my tendencies to look at other women and not just see them as the usual ‘girl crush’, even though I had previously convinced myself that my thoughts about women were because I wanted to be them; as attractive, as beautiful as them.
Once I began to act on my desires to be with women, I knew I could not deny that this was me, and that my sexuality was something to embrace rather than fear. I had a lot of fear about properly acknowledging my sexuality, not only to myself but to others. We have all heard about bisexuality somewhere in media, or from a friend or relative that these feelings are just a phase, or from someone trying to keep up with the current ‘trends’. I realised that I was not straight and was no longer going to fit into this socially constructed category. I found many instances where my sexuality was a shock to people or easily questioned. There was a general assumption that I was heterosexual and often when I would correct people, I would be faced with a look of disbelief. Was it my history of being in relationships with men or my promiscuousness? Or were my physical cues off, did I need to adhere to a certain stereotype that did not make me look straight?
I soon found it exhausting to let my heterosexuality go unchallenged. Initially I felt quite intimidated to actually join the Queer community, as I have friends who had gone through their journey and failed to be recognised by the Queer community when they were struggling with their identity, and I always wondered if that was going to happen to me too. I had been told that bisexuals were people who just sat on the fence, never really a part of the Queer community because it was easy for them to pass as heterosexual. We were able to go through life without judgement and switch sides when life got tough. I felt like I was not Queer enough to fit into the space dedicated to Queer people, but I soon realised other bisexual people were feeling the same. I read an article about how this way of thinking was society’s way of pinning Queer people against each other; I felt like I had begun unwrapping the layers to microaggression.
The truth is that I don’t get to choose a side. Bisexual people will love who they love. Sexuality is a spectrum; it is fluid and it is definitely not a pretty little box. I will always support and show love to my Queer counterparts who cannot easily pass as heterosexual and who suffer from society’s labels and gender norms. It took me a while to learn that I did not need to worry about other people’s opinions, and that my identity was not solely based on my sexuality.
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A Story of Bisexuality (continued)
Bi Visibility Day / Wednesday 23rd September: Bi Visibility Day, also known as International Celebrate Bisexuality Day, has been marked each year since 1999 to highlight biphobia and to help people find the bisexual community.
International Lesbian Day / Thursday 8th October: International Lesbian Day, an opportunity to highlight the achievements of Queer women, and the challenges this section of our community still face.
National Coming Out Day / Sunday 11th October: Celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people’s coming out experiences and journeys.
Intersex Awareness Day / Thursday 26th October: An internationally observed awareness day designed to highlight human rights issues faced by intersex people.
Melbourne Queer Games Festival / October: Melbourne Queer Games Festival aims to inform, entertain and challenge LGBTIQ+ players by reflecting their lives in games, while bringing the best of world Queer culture to Melbourne and enhance the reputation of Australian game developers.
Asexual Awareness Week / October 22nd – 28th: An international campaign that seeks to educate about asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and grey-asexual experiences and to create materials that are accessible to the asexual community and allies around the world.
Under Bunjil recognizes that amidst the COVID-19 pandemic Queer people are significantly more susceptible to mental health issues due to discrimination and inequalities. Many Queer people not only in Australia, but around the world are being forced to move back into unsafe domestic spaces where they are faced with issues of income, housing, domestic violence, food, anxiety, and silencing. Queer people have been forced to remain silent about their sexuality and identity in these unsafe spaces and are often unable to connect with supportive friends and maintain good mental and physical health. If you need any support, we have listed services that Queer and Blak Queer people can access in Victoria and online.
- UMSU Queer Department collectives and events: you can chat, cry, and laugh in solidarity with other people with the same struggles.
- 03 9663 6733: Queerspace Drummond Street Services.
- 1800 184 527: QLife is free, anonymous, LGBTIQA+ counselling and support.
- 9865 6700: Thorne Harbour Health: provide counselling, casework, brokerage, and behaviour change support for LGBTIQA+ community members either experiencing family violence or using violence in their relationships.
- 03 9020 4642: Transgender Victoria: Transgender Victoria is led for trans people, by trans people. TGV refers individuals seeking support on a range of issues (health, law, housing, finance, workplace etc) to relevant services.
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In this edition we have a new section dedicated to our much loved and often forgotten about mob over at VCA. We know that there is often a divide between the Southbank and Parkville campus. We hope by having this dedicated section we will help inform our readers about what is happening at VCA and engage their voices, stories, and aspirations.
Hi Mikaylah, let’s begin with a little introduction about yourself (mob, studying, interests, goals). Hi, my name is Mikaylah Lepua, my mob is, Palawa – Oyster Cove, Tasmania. I am currently in my first year at VCA completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Art) majoring in Photography. My interests are art, photography (obviously), reading, music, fashion, movies and TV shows!
VCA courses are quite hands on, due to the contemporary closure of campus, how has your course structure changed? The structure since the closure of campus has changed drastically, and we have moved as much of our course work online as possible. However, not everything could be translated into online course work, so we have had to defer some classes. Thus far we have adapted as a cohort quite well I would say! We have had technical classes through zoom where we were introduced to Lightroom, Photoshop and Premier Pro, and have had other classes where we have been broken up into smaller groups and shown each other the work we have completed in that week!
How have these changes affected your learning and what steps have you taken to ensure you continue to meet your course requirements and personal learning expectations? This has affected my learning drastically. I would say it is much harder to stay focused and motivated when I am sitting at a desk all alone rather than in my studio surrounded by my peers, however I do make it work. I am in constant contact with peers and teachers, asking for help bouncing ideas off everyone. I also treat my workspace like my studio by sticking my work up on the walls and by keeping an updated diary of when work is due!
I like to have an optimistic mindset. Even though it is hard to stay focused I think this has helped with my work immensely, as it has allowed me to look at my work from a different point of view. It has forced me to think more creatively, has made me work harder, and has shown me that I can work with the resources I have available to me.
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Curently, University of Melbourne students studying at VCA in practical courses have been pushing for fee reductions. They argue that the studio-based courses can’t be replicated online, and that their learning experience has diminished. What are your thoughts on this? I agree, the fees should most definitely be reduced. We chose this course for the studio spaces, for the hands-on learning, and for the facilities that are available to us on campus. Because we currently don’t have access, it is unfair to make students pay for facilities that we are unable to use. There is no debate that studio-based courses are struggling with learning, and it is hard for us as we signed up for a studio-based course with facilities and equipment we don’t have access to at home. It is unfair that we must defer; however, there is nothing we can do to change that, but what we can get changed is the fees.
As a new student, have you been able to connect in with the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development? If yes, have the staff been able to help you with remote learning and connection to culture? Yes, I am in constant contact with the Wilin Centre! It is my favourite place to be on campus (other than my studio) and the staff are the kindest souls. I obviously have not been able to go as much as I would have liked to due to the closure of campus, however when it was open I went into the Wilin Centre a fair bit to ask for help about books that I was unable to find, work I needed help with, and when I needed to heat up my food! They do help with connection to culture as well. I am hoping that when we are able to go back on campus there will be intensives that I can join in on.
Isolation during the pandemic has been quite lonely, what ways have you managed to stay connected with friends, family and peers? I am lucky to be living at home with my family, (mum, dad, older brother and younger sister), so I am consistently surrounded by my loved ones. However, I stay connected with my friends through social media! I keep in contact to make sure they are safe and healthy. I also stay in contact with friends through videos games; it keeps us busy and talking! With my peers, we have created a group chat with the first-year photography students where we talk about the course, and work we are struggling with and need help with.
Do you have an online artist portfolio or artist social media account our readers could visit and check out? Yes, I do I have an Instagram account: ‘@mikaylah.photography’
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Photograph of a woman with her hand raised with two fingers pointed.
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Photograph: Close up image of jewellery on a woman’s neck, close up image of a woman with both her hand raised above her head with two fingers pointed.
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Two photographs: Close up image of a woman’s eyes with ochre painted around them, photograph of a woman dressed in a bridal gown with ochre painted down the side of her arm.
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Photographs arranged on a page as a collage consisting of:
- Distorted image with the time stamp 10:31am
- Distorted image with the time stamp 3:15pm
- Close up photos of different elements photoshopped into a horizontal line
- Distorted image with the time stamp 6:24pm
- Distorted image with the time stamp 7:47pm
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Like our last edition we have brought back the Blak Stats section to showcase the diversity among our cohort and get a little inside info on our amazing students! We have some amazing students we want to showcase and help continue to breakdown any stereotypes about First Nations people.
Photograph of Nathan Hucker.
Name: Nathan Hucker — He/him
Studying: Bachelor of Arts
What activity instantly calms you? Going for a run or having a nap.
If you could interview one person in your field, who would it be? Larissa Behrendt.
What’s the most important thing we should know about you? I’m a massive Essendon supporter.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Local paperboy when I was 11-13. Those cold and early mornings for $5 a daywere brutal.
Tomato sauce: fridge or cupboard? Cupboard 100%.
Name: Hugo Comisari — He/him
Studying: Creative Writing/Australian Indigenous Studies
Who is your favorite superhero and why? Mal Meninga – strength. pace. skill. green.
What’s a book or podcast you could read/ listen to over and over again? The Old Man and the Sea or Don’t Take Your Love to Town.
If you could interview one person in your field, who would it be? Charles Perkins.
What’s the most important thing we should know about you? Not a liquorice kind of fella.
If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask? “Hugo, how does he do it?”
Photograph of Hugo Comisari.
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BLAK STATS (continued)
Name: Jessica Alderton — She/her
Studying: Bachelor of Arts (Art History Major/ History Minor)
What annoys you most? When people don’t push their chairs back in!
What’s a book or podcast you could read/listen to over and over again? Tomorrow, When the War Began.
What is your go to playlist when you are home alone? This playlist I made which is just full of songs from the 60’s to 80’s! Think Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack vibes. Or the Dirty Dancing soundtrack!
What’s the most important thing we should know about you? I am actually quite a generous person. If you need help with anything, I would absolutely go out of my way to help you!
If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask? What or who is out there in the universe? Because we can’t be the only ones.
Photograph of Jessica Alderton.
Photograph of Thomas Mylne.
Name: Thomas Mylne — He/him
Studying: Intercalated Medicine & Master of Public Health
What activity instantly calms you? Getting out bush and connecting with nature.
What’s a book or podcast you could read/listen to over and over again? Holding the Man by Timothy Conigrave, The Jackson Track by Daryl Tonkin and Carolyn Landon and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.
If you could interview one person in your field, who would it be? Paul Kalanithi, from reading his book I would love to just listen to him talk about how he balanced the intersection of being a health professional and a patient at the same time.
What’s the most important thing we should know about you?
I’m a country kid at heart and I’m pretty passionate about equity for our regional, rural and remote communities.
If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask? I think living with an amount of mystery in life can be pretty healthy, it feeds to the natural human experience of being curious. If I had the privilege of a definitive answer I would probably try and use it to help someone other than myself in a meaningful way, like solving a missing persons case or finding a sentimental object they have lost.
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BLAK STATS (continued)
Name: Makalie Watts-Owens — She/her
Mob: Tagalaka & Kukatj
Studying: Bachelor of Arts (Extended) Majoring in Indigenous Studies.
What activity instantly calms you? Drinking a nice cup of tea, preferably a black tea.
If you could interview one person in your field, who would it be? I would probably want to interview or more likely have a yarn with Aileen Moreton-Robinson. Her work on whiteness and Indigenous women is phenomenal and she inspires me everyday as an Aboriginal woman living, working and studying in the academic space. I don’t think her work will ever not be relevant.
What’s the most important thing we should know about you? That although I am not an extrovert or a very talkative person, I always enjoy having a good critical discussion with other blackfullas. I have spent several lifetimes talking to whitefullas about shit that doesn’t matter.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? When I was 15 years old and worked at Hungry Jacks. I would regularly be yelled at by customers, talked down to by managers and made fun of by my coworkers. One of the worst places you could ever work would be in customer service or fast food.
Tomato sauce: fridge or cupboard? Neither. I am probably the only Blak person I know that hates tomato sauce.
Photograph of Makalie Watts-Owens.
Photograph of Jay.
Name: Jay — They/Them
Studying: Bachelor of Science
Who is your favorite superhero and why? Ironman – I love that his superpower is his brain.
What’s a book or podcast you could read/ listen to over and over again? CriticalRole its a D&D podcast/video series
If you could interview one person in your field, who would it be? Neil deGrasse Tyson.
What’s the most important thing we should know about you? I’m definitely a massive nerd and love to talk about not just my fandoms but yours too.
If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask? I would love to know how the universe started and more importantly where all the missing antimatter is?
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CONTENT WARNING: this piece contains names of those who have passed away.
All Blak musicians, artists, creative writers, scholars, and businesses you should be following, supporting and celebrating. Give some love to our Blak community and support our products and people! We have tried our best to list things that are solely Blak; however, some are in collaboration with people of colour or white people.
Winter reading guide:
- Walking the Clouds – Grace Dillon
- Kulinmaya – Mike Williams
- Homeland Calling – Desert Pea Media
- Iwenhe Tyerrtye – Margaret Kemarre Turner and Barry McDonald Perrurle
- Sand Talk – Tyson Yunkaporta
- Finding the Heart of the Nation – Thomas Mayor
- Fire Country – Victor Steffensen
- The First Nations Issue (Issue 13) – Archer Magazine
- Fire Front: First Nations Poetry and Power Today – Curated by Alison Whittaker
- The Yield – Tara June Winch
- Tell Me Why – Archie Roach
- Truganini – Cassandra Pybus
Artists to have on shuffle:
- Luke Daniel Peacock
- Tia Gostelow
- Becca Hatch
- Benny Walker
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BLAK THINGS (Continued)
Podcasts to check out:
- Always was, always will be our stories – Marlee Silvia
- Black Magic Woman – Mundanara Bayles
- A Cuppa and a Yarn – NSW Aboriginal Land Council
- Autism Our Way: No Shame in Sharing – Tanika Davis
- SBS NITV Radio Indigenous Health – MeDtalk
- The ASH Podcast
Blak businesses you can support:
- Freestone Art
- Koorroyarr Arts
- Miimi & Jiinda
- Lakkari Pitt
- Burrruguu Art
- Pawa Catering
- Gnalla Supplies
Support resources during COVID-19:
- UMSU Advocacy – for University related disputes or issues
- 1800RESPECT – confidential information, counselling and support service for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse
- 131 114 Lifeline
- 1800 95 95 63 Yarning Safe’n’Strong
- 1800 020 080 – National Coronavirus hotline / Coronavirus Australia app
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) – Indigenous specific COVID-19 news updates, clinical resources, medicine and pharmacy resources
- Australian Indigenous Health InfoNet – the latest COVID-19 updates Victorian Aboriginal Health Service 03 9403 3300
- Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia – emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention (COVID-19 specific)
- 1800 105 303 Djirra – Offer emotional and cultural support to Aboriginal women to stay safe and keep well
- 1800 435 799 Dardi Munwurro – Delivers a range of family violence, healing and behaviour change programs and services
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Hope Kuchel: She/her, Barkindji, Why we need to be talking about Euphoria.
Image: Zendaya from Euphoria.
Shanysa McConville: She/her, Eastern Arrernte, Indiana “not a real archaeologist” Jones.
Image: Indiana Jones.
Charlie Miller: He/him, Kanolu, The Art of Indecisiveness.
Image: Arrows pointing in different directions.
Zaralee McAuliffe-Douthat: She/her, Gunai/Kurnai, Indigeneity is more than a skin colour.
Image: Cups of tea in multiple shades.
Bronte Gosper: She/her, Wiradjuri, How to balance life when things get tough.
Image: Stoned balancing on wood.
Naomi Oakley: She/her, Gamilaroi, Creations from Country.
Image: Map of the Aboriginal countries that make up Australia.
Olivia Bently: She/her, Wiradjuri, The power of vision boards and goal setting.
Image: Vision board.
Jordan Price He/him, Gunditjmara, Discount Thoth.
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Our Contributors (continued)
Stevie Wappett: She/her, Biripi/Worimi, Day of the Deadly: Celebrating Identity Through Culture.
Image: Deadly denim jacket.
Brittney Henderson: She/her, Wiradjuri, The Aboriginal Narcissus.
Mikaylah Lepua: She/her, Palawa, Marvel vs DC: Why not both?
Image: Marvel characters vs. DC Characters.
Lay Maloney: They/them, Gumbaynggirr/Gunggandji, Dear white men:how about eliminating oppression instead of making metaphors for it?
Kiara Davies: She/her, Kamilaroi, Why Moulin Rouge (Dir Baz Luhrmann) is a cinematic masterpiece and why I won’t be watching the musical.
Image: Moulin Rouge.
Anais Peate: She/her, Kooma, The power of communication.
Image: Laptop with mail icon displayed on screen.
Elia Shugg He/him, Erub/Mer, Why Hip Hop is a Healing Practice for Young People.
Image: A boombox.
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The Under Bunjil editorial team would like to give special thanks to the following organisations. Without the ongoing support of these deadly institutions it would not be possible to produce this publication. We are incredibly grateful for the platform of Under Bunjil and the opportunity to make our voices known and heard in such a resounding way.
Under Bunjil would not be possible without the continued support of Murrup Barak, the University of Melbourne’s Institute for Indigenous Development. We give special thanks to Murrup Barak’s Associate Director, Inala Cooper, for the institute’s ongoing financial contributions to the UMSU Indigenous Department. Murrup Barak’s reinvigorated devotion to student programs and leadership means that we have the support necessary to invest in an incredible array of student-led endeavours, of which Under Bunjil continues to be one of the most impressive.
Under Bunjil is a First Nations student publication produced by the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) Indigenous Department. Under Bunjil is produced with authorisation from the office of the General Secretary of UMSU, Jack Buksh. A massive thank you to UMSU for their ongoing commitment to this publication and for answering all our pesky little questions.
Without the help from the Media Office Bearers we would have struggled to pull this publication together. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time as Office Bearers this year and it has given us a new outlook on the support and commitment we can provide to our cohort. It has been a pleasure being your Indigenous Office Bearers and Editors for Under Bunjil and we hope we can continue to make our University an inclusive, safe and a deadly place.
Under Bunjil is printed by Printgraphics, care of the ever-patient Nigel Quirk.
We look forward to the emails that are slightly off topic now and then and appreciate all the time and effort you have spent in helping us get this edition to print, a massive thank you for your continued support over the years.
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Under Bunjil Volumes
Images of previous Under Bunjil covers, volumes 1 through 6.
Under Bunjil is proudly produced, edited, written, and read by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from across the country. Without the pivotal work of the founder, Tyson Holloway-Clarke, and all past editorial teams, the exceptional production of volumes one through six, alongside this new edition, would not have been possible.
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Two page spread, image of Torres Strait Island Flag.
Back Cover of Under Bunjil Voulme 7, Photograph of trees beside water bank.