I’m proud to have studied a Diploma in Creative and Indigenous Writing in 2015, at the Charles Darwin University, relocating for the course duration, travelling from Melbourne to Darwin, after losing Mum in late November 2014. If you’ve been to the Top End, you’d surely agree that it’s strikingly rare with the red rocks that line the beaches. The National Parks hold pristine waterholes, vivid sunsets cast a delightful spell over the sky, and the intense wet/dry seasons are a few examples of the adorned beauty and magic of the Outback. To visit is an experience that differs greatly from city life, what’s replaced instead is a wildness, a sacredness, and a quiet strength.
I journeyed to the Northern Territory with a desire to learn and immerse myself fully in the Australian Aboriginal Culture, Dream-time Stories, Spirituality and to attempt to uncover the history of Australia. Alongside a desire to honour my passion to write, because passions are to be followed, not ignored, right? I know the devastation of The Stolen Generation can never be downplayed, and the grief we still feel as a nation impacts us, individually and collectively to this day.
I am saddened to recently discover that 95% of Aboriginal people are affected by suicide, “Many of them are born into families where grief from suicide already exists.” “Death is our life”, South Australian Elder, Tauto Sansbury describes the mourning. Personally, I can relate. My Mum’s Dad, my Pa, committed suicide when I was a child, then, by the age of eighteen, I had no more Grandparents left. I was twenty-six when Mum passed. Have I been in immense pain and sorrow, to the point where death seemed like a welcome option? Has hope looked like a silver lining too far on the horizon? Truthfully, yes. I tell this story of mine because I can, and perhaps that is only because I have had access to a psychologist and an understanding G.P. Now, the medical system is not without flaws, but, there has been help available for me to access. Not to mention a loving family and a couple of supportive friends.
Australians walk with the spirit of resilience, but I do not glorify this. Instead, I pray that future generations do not have to ‘fight’ for their ability to last, or survive. Suicide is something that was once a foreign concept to our First Nation people, “No word in the ancient Yolngu language describes suicide.” What’s terrifying, is the rates for Aboriginal teen suicide, being second in the world, after Greenland. Again, our babies. This is more than heartbreaking. It is shameful, that there is a lack of wellness services readily available to Aboriginal Australians. Moreover, the coping mechanism Aboriginal children feel they have among our communities, is to end their lives? I must reiterate, that suicide is an introduced concept to Aboriginals, and in no way true to their traditional way of life.
Suicide now, is horrifically normalised, “As more and more children who are younger and younger, commit suicide.” This is no longer a blame game alas, nor should it have ever been, in fact, it is wise to invoke miraculous healing then, and write without the intention of using the Government as a scapegoat for this issue, either. Because you and I both remember that we, the people, are and have always been, more powerful than the Government anyway.
My perspective derives from the observation that White Australia has missed out sorely, too, because of this disconnect, opportunities never came to fruition, or simply slipped away, for us to know the medicine of this sacred land, feel connected to ourselves, our song/soul, and expand spiritually. This has hindered our growth and it’s almost as if we are spiritually handicapped, still plagued by the immoral and inhumane choices of the past.
With all due respect, and for the right I have to share an opinion, what I see often is shallow and fickle, which is not what one should expect, considering we co-exist with the oldest race of human beings, Aboriginals.
We should be rich, richer than we are now. Not in economic standards, that’s not a currency you take when you leave your body, I’m talking about our souls – embellished with stories, healing, truth, gifts, and a relationship to a higher power. Not because I said so – or anyone else for that matter – but because everyone should have an experience of their own, should they not? Is this not vital to the spiritual part of our being?
For me, it’s about bridging the gap now and getting amongst the people. My people. Our people. Alas, this is not currently possible – so instead, I retell my story from 2015. I felt at home with the grassroots people; homeless Aboriginals. They’ve got a heart to them that can’t be taught in University. I love them deeply. They’re funny, I saw their childlike spirit, they’re pure souls, cheeky, some of the women would steal my thongs, but I didn’t care. I wanted to give to them, to help them where I could. To be a peacemaker, and to show them that I care. My friend Nima Jamishi, I have a lot to thank for, he helped to get me out of my shell when he came to visit me. I was holding back from making friends in the way I wanted to, I guess I was shy and unsure, but he was bold, shouting out the windows of the car, loudly: “I love Aboriginal people!” I didn’t know if that was appropriate but what could I do? I had a crazy Persian artist friend to contend with, so I had to smile and roll with it. We were both received very warmly, thankfully, and blessed by their company. A couple of Aboriginal women and friends named me Lisa Mulunda, they said that in their culture, Mulunda is the bird that rises from the ashes. It’s exciting, five years on when the Aboriginal spirit comes through as a character, or to deliver a message in a short story or blog post of mine now. I know my voice is respected and celebrated amongst the Aboriginals, I can feel it, I can hear them in the wind. They’re proud of me for the work I am doing. This is what we all want, isn’t it? True connection, to belong? To sing?
Around this time, January last year, I was a sobbing mess after reading the article about gorgeous Rochelle Pryor, a fourteen-year-old baby, who took her own life, with the message: “Maybe they will listen now.” She was being bullied with racist remarks at school. This touched me for a couple of personal reasons, as well. Fierce, right, what she did? Well mourning the loss of our girl, was sheer agony. I didn’t know her but I didn’t need to, instead a raging storm of suffering introduced her to me. No, we will never be able to turn back the clock, and there will never be enough days to recite the five-letter word, sorry. Because it simply proves the powerlessness of the word when it comes to an almost unspeakable past. Yet – it has to be acknowledged.
We move forward, and peer back, because if we don’t, how do we know what not to do, to make this a brighter and more beautiful land of opportunity for everyone. I recently discovered the Government gave the Aboriginal people millions, if not billions of dollars in compensation in 2019, due to spiritual and land loss. I wonder, and stand to make an overall statement, of how this seemingly honourable and generous gesture is a mis-portrayal of the Father. The Father’s I know, long to touch their children’s sweet faces, as much as they work to put food on the table. There is a balance in our Country, Australia. We simply do not hand over money as an act of forgiveness, love, or to hush our children. We know better. We do better. We are better. The child with every materialistic object money can buy but no role model or parent to bond with becomes a wounded example of human neglect. So, we must touch the faces, because every child, between 0-100, deserves to have their face held. And if we, for whatever reason, cannot, we must work with our hands to win hearts, as they are an extension of that infinite and expansive space. There is only one way to reign victory over a history that is horrifically sinful, we begin to turn the soil over, and with our hands, we touch the blood-stained memories that still won’t allow us to forget, yet we forgive.
Ourselves first, and then one another. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi. We look at the most vile acts humanity has committed, and we forgive. Because it has been bestowed upon us to experience excruciating pain, we also have a tremendously great capacity to love and heal.
As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison. – Nelson Mandela.
Then – we need not look to the heavens for a figure of holiness, splendour or Godly essence, we see this mirrored in the presence of our Brothers and Sisters. We, living human beings, become the Saints and the Angels. The anointed ones. We turn the soil. We are the Saints and Angels.