Monthly Archives: June 2007

Back on line – but downscaling

Well, I’m back on line.

I have given up on the idea of a newsagency as previously proclaimed. Personal circumstances have put a lid on that vision for the immediate future so I am downscaling to a boring old ordinary blog.

When the time is right the newsagency will arise again, maybe even a sustainable housing agency – see what happens.

Things haven’t turned out as planned and our time on Palm Island was a short one. The main reason that Theresa and I have returned to Brisbane is for personal reasons – the fight against the office of the Adult guardian to secure the rights and liberties of my nephew has dragged us back.

I am under considerable restriction, under threat of imprisonment, as to what I am allowed to say about the Adult Guardian and it’s role in my family. But I’ve had a few months to think about that dillemma and have a couple of appropriate articles in my head that I am sure will spill into this blog soon.

But the Adult Guardian business was not the only reason we returned.

Our time on Palm Island was not productive. Things there seem to have changed also between our meetings in 2005/6 and our recent visit. Firstly the former Mayor, Erykah Kyle, with whom we were working on housing issues, is no longer the mayor. Erykah was personally tired when I met with her this time but more importantly, she did not see any hope for Palm Island on the horizon. She speaks of this in the interview I did with her that I still intend to transcribe and put up here.

Erykah was not alone in her apparent lack of hope. There were a couple of projects being planned on the island that I was going to be involved in that have collapsed and a couple of the bright sparks behind the ideas had even left the Island.

When we were on Palm Island last year there was a sense of anticipation. The police station had been burnt down, the media had gone into a frenzy, the struggle to have Chris Hurley charged was in full swing and there was an almost electric feeling that something big was about to happen. Nobody knew what would happen but after all the fuss something was going to happen and sections of the community, in particular the Men’s business group, were getting prepared to manage significant projects such as a diversionary centre as an alternative to the watchhouse. The men’s group were unanimous that they did not want just a diversionary centre but a mens centre of power and healing – for all men at all times, not just those under arrest.

But on this visit the mens group have been busy running under resourced projects mainly as an apendage to the police system and seem to have lost enthusiasm for anything greater.

Theresa and I worked hard on Palm Island housing issues for two years. We costed and set up a supply system to provide 50 new houses on Palm Island for ten million dollars. Our plan was given in principle support from a full meeting of the Palm Island council with a commitment to pursue the project.

I was excited a while ago. We had developed a good plan. Thanks to Theresa we were able to develop it within Aboriginal protocols and we did the black business properly as well as the housing details.

Yet our good, cost effective idea and support from the democratically elected council burnt us out as we repeatedly hit our head against the obstructions of white bureacrats who, like it or not, control the whole process. All the fine ideals of self determination mean nothing these peoples’ grand plans (which never materialise on the ground anyway).

So, as Theresa and I got depressed contemplating the futility of our work, we gave up and came back to Brisbane. But people like Erykah Kyle or Alf Lacey or the other leaders on Palm Island we worked with or spoke to have experienced something far more devestating than a 2 year failed expereiment. They have lived on the Island all their lives and, like everyone on the Island have had their good ideas and visions dashed over and over again by white bureacrats – year after year after year.

There is a serious problem of depression and dissilusionment on Palm Island but it is not as a result of alcoholism. It is because of the continued suppression of the peoples will. The hopelessness on Palm Island is not a negative delusion but rather a rational and common sense attitude to life with the realistic understanding that any time you have a good idea or get excited about something positive then you will surely be dissappointed and will probably be hurt. It is indeed better to suffer in silence and hold on to no expectations or goals.


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