First Post from Palm Island

I am writing this post from the contraversial Palm Island Police and citizens Youth Centre (P.C.Y.C), the only community access internet on the Island.  It was not until the PCYC was built that broadband internet came to Palm Island. 

I still have a number of technical hurdles to overcome, I still cant get photos up on the posts, but that should change before too long.

Over the last week my partner, Theresa  and I have had several meetings in Mt. Isa (Theresa’s traditional country – Kalkadoon) and here discussing sustainable housing options as well as a range of other issues including substance abuse, employment and mental health issues.  The good side of these discussions has been an affirmation that our ideas are very relevent and welcome in Mt. Isa and Palm Island but the downside is that there still seems to be no apparent strategy to manifest these ideas.  We had hoped to begin a housing resource centre early this year but it does not seem like that will occur for a range of issues which I shall not whinge to you about at this stage but may well do in the future.  But the plan is still solid and perhaps later in the year we can begin. 

I will write a series of posts in the near future about these issues to thrash them out a bit more, but in the meantime please check out the following link to see what we are on about.  http://www.kalkadoon.org/index.php/out-of-the-box-housing-vision/

A recurring theme in discussions here and in Mt. Isa has been the questions of hope and hopelessness.  Whether it be alternative housing strategies or healing strategies for alcoholism, family violence and mental ill health, I continue to ask myself – Without hope, can any of these strategies work?  An obvious answer that smacks me in the face every time I consider it is – of course it won’t!   But then the question arises, what can bring hope? and I wonder if any of these strategies can bring hope.  So I perceive a catch 22 situation where change will not occur without hope and hope will not occur with out change. 

 There is still a deep despair amongst many Aboriginal people, especially here on Palm Island.  Suicides continue and many people still try to escape the pain of life through substance abuse of one form or another.  People are trying to survive from day to day and make the most of the hand that has been dealt them, they have little capacity for political or social action to bring about change.  For all its flaws the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) provided a forum and overview to discuss possibilities for change and as such provided a glimmer of hope.  Now that it has been disbanded there appears to be no capacity for Indigenous people to articulate or explore new policy agendas and have no choice but to succumb to the blow-in-the-wind policies of ignorant white bureacracies of the federal and state governments and their programs.

Anyway, more about all of this in future posts.  As mentioned previously, the former Mayor of Palm Island, Erykah Kyle, has agreed to write for Paradigm Oz occaisionally.  I met with Erykah yesterday and recorded an interview with her about some of her reflections on the situation here.  I will transcribe it soon and present it in a number of sections (It was a long interview). 

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