On Assignment for Australian Geographic
My prefered workflow is a calm, intent based, highly detail orientated process. Often times...
I remember a friend of mine asking me what the problems were facing Aboriginal people in Australia and what the solutions were two years ago standing outside the Desert View in Coober Pedy and quickly realising that I had no idea of the issues or possible solutions to these unbeknown problems.
Instantly I became acutely aware of the green nature of my ironic unawareness of this complex issue. Two years on and the issues that face the First Nations people of Australia are still cloudy but I feel as if a general willingness to listen and acknowledge my green status is leading to an openness of discussion and information around the day to day issues.
Monday the 30th of June I spent the day with the Young family at their home in Adelaide listening to their stories from growing up in a care free Pipalyatjara riding motor bikes, hunting and living in society with a youthful sense of nativity unaware of the disenfranchisement and the enforcement of living within a white system. This story triggered past memories of loss and grief and for a second I could hear my heartbeat within my head and a sensory presence of heat
surrounding my temples and ears.
Sitting on the couch with Clarrie he began to recall stories of stealing Lena’s motorbike and heading north to the instantaneous laughter of the room. No one ever saw that 350CC again. After 8 frames we departed for a day of activities visiting the Centalink at Arndale, family on South Terrace and Housing SA at Port Adelaide followed by a quick lunch break. We lost Clarrie briefly, so after turning Clarrie’s phone off silent and helping him choose a ringtone, we tethered Lena’s phone via bluetooth to travel back to Adelaide to the soundtrack of Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Barns and a swag of tracks recorded out at Amata by PY Media.
After dropping Clarrie and his wife Tjalyiri in town, Lena and I began to speak one on one. Lena spoke passionately about her new house that she has been promised by Housing SA for her and her daughter to live in without the premises being a drinking house. I enquired about her brothers shoulder, which we didn’t photograph, which was like a huge abscess protruding from his right shoulder. Lena went on to explain that when their uncle had died and the family
were travelling to the funeral in the APY Lands Clarrie had launched himself from the moving car in extreme grief.
No medical solution had ever been sought and the issue literally just grew larger. Along with it came an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I can associate with this feeling i’ve experienced periods of despondency where i’ve thought of launching myself out of a moving car or finding the system too overwhelming to live in.
The reality of living in a white system was exhausting, in the end travelling over 100km in one day without any real outcome or tangible result. The realisation that this was an much easier day for the trio having a motorcar to get to appointments and speak with agency workers rather than walk or wait for connecting public transport.
Connection and understanding through dialogue are essential to being informed on issues that face Aboriginal people all over Australia and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to sit alongside the Young family and listen to their stories of day to day life.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this gallery does contain images and voices of people who have died.