Opinions of a murri woman...

Opinions of a murri woman...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011, The Year That Was...

If someone would’ve told me this time last year when I was a broke ass student about to graduate from the most prestigious media school in the country that I’d be living back home in North QLD, become the carer of my 14yr old brother and working as an Indigenous Youth Mentor at a High School, I would not have believed you. Its unbelievable what has happened and where life has taken me in the space of the last 12 months.

2011 will always be remembered by me as the year of painstakingly hard times, so I thought I’d write and reflect to put into perspective some of the things I have gone through in the year that was 2011.

Death/A New Life:

What a way to finish 2010. Graduate from radio school, get a job and then lose my mother all in the space of two months. This started my rollercoaster new life. I moved back to QLD the day after my mum passed away; straight back to North Queensland in the thick of absolute grief. I moved into my mother’s house and took over her lease, and in turn, inheriting all of her processions, as well as becoming my brother’s fulltime carer. Keeping in mind, I moved back not having my driver’s license, so I was sitting here every day in this house, house bound, by myself with no family, with just my thoughts while my brother would be at school for the first 6 months of the year.

To say that this whole grieving/adjusting process has been hard mentally, physically and spiritually would be an understatement. I have cried more in this one year than I have my entire life... Whenever I think that there are no more tears to cry, they still come... My mum will always be in my heart, in my mind and in my spirit for the rest of my life and I have accepted that no amount of tears will ever be enough when you are missing someone, and my mum; I will miss forever...

Lifestyle Change/Becoming a carer:

The thing which made everything harder on top of the death of my mum was moving back to this place I hadn’t lived for 10 years, back to quiet, back to lack of opportunity and job prospects, but also back to a completely different lifestyle of now taking on the parenting role. My brother and I were probably at our lowest in the first 4 months of 2011 having to apply to become a carer and what a head ache of a process that was. No money from Centrelink and barely any support from the department until I was cleared as my brother’s full time carer in May this year meant we lived off what little savings I had until it was all cleared in the court system. To have survived this whole year without a accepting a cent from anybody else is something that has made me stronger and will continue to make me a stronger person for the rest of my life. I wasn’t being stubborn, I was just doing what I know how to do best when I’m at my lowest; survive. 11 months down the track, various stressful days and nights later, my brother and I have found our rhythm and are doing well.


Amongst all the anguish and sadness, the hurt, the fear and genuine pain I’ve felt everyday this year, my light at the end of the tunnel has been travel. Being up here without work for the first 6 months meant limited money which meant sitting still for a while... Well so I thought... In moments where I thought, ‘I can’t take anymore’, the opportunity to travel always presented itself and I honestly don’t think without those several trips I’ve been able to take this year, I would’ve been half as sain as I am right now... To get away to Sydney for a week to see Usher with my girl Jo was amazing; it allowed me to see and say a proper goodbye to my good friends who I didn’t get to see before I left in December, and allowed me to farewell my beloved Sydney the way I wanted too.

To be able to take my brother for a weekend to Sydney not long after and spent a few days showing him my favourite city in Australia, take him to concerts and spoil him with clothes, food and music was a good memory of 2011 for the both of us that we will share for a life time. Not too long down the track, I was then asked to help facilitate a radio workshop for my old school on beautiful Thursday Island in the Torres Straits; my very first trip to the straits and I will always remember the hospitality of the people, the beautiful green/blue water, the dingy’s driving by, the beers after a long day of teaching in a hot hall and the returning buzz of radio that I had missed for the 6 months I’d been away from it all. I sat still again for a little while, but not before another trip to Sydney to again teach radio and have the opportunity to do it at my old school... I learnt a lot of things on this trip and was grateful to have the opportunity to again be involved in radio and spend time with my friends while I was there.

From Sydney to Townsville and I welcomed some of my best friends in the world to my house for a few days and can say that it was probably some of the happiest times I’ve had in my life, especially the road trip I took back to Townsville for my first trip back to the city since I had moved in 2009. I’ve never laughed so hard and drunk so much alcohol in the space of 4 days..

Just when I thought I’d be sitting still again for a while, my new job as an Indigenous Youth Mentor at my old school was offered to me and I’ve been working there since August and have loved the new challenge and new a new industry. Radio also came knocking and I was able to pick up a few days producing in Cairns and really enjoyed being back in it. Then came the news that my best friend Bernard was gravely ill and I rushed to be by his bedside in Darwin to see him through it. My bala, who I had come to know and love for the past 6yrs, was laying before me, in a coma and on life support and I refused to lose my mother and best friend in the same year, so to Darwin I travelled to be with him. I hate Darwin and hate the heat, but I did what I had to do to see my bala... Luckily he survived and came through it all and is doing really well. To see him have another shot at life, a second chance and for him to still be in my life, is something I will always be eternally grateful for.

It wasn’t long before I was off to the Gold Coast for a work conference with the High School in October and loved every minute. I saw some old friends, and made some new ones and enjoyed being back on the beautiful coast again. As I sit here and write this, my first blog in a while, I am counting down to my first trip overseas in 12 days time. This trip has taken me about 5 months to organise and has been planned what feels like my whole life. One week in LA and one week in New YOORRKKK with my girl Kodie, to see Kanye West and Jay Z and to escape the year I’ve had, and what a year it’s been... Thank god for travel and this beautiful world I have explored and am yet to keep exploring...


The best part about this year is that I haven’t gone through it completely myself. My family and extended family surrounded me and continue to illuminate love and support for my brother and I as we continue to explore unknown territories together. My sister Jade is my rock, my oldest and only sister and has been there from start to finish with nothing but love for me and my brother. She understands the feelings that I feel and knows how to cheer me up. Another positive about being back home is being closer to her and getting to know her better. Her husband Ben has become a brother to me and has had to endure more than his shoulders probably needed this year, but has had our backs equally and would do anything for us; true family and a true human being. My brother has also had the love and support of my sisters 3 children who we see regularly and they all have a strong bond and hopefully will have long into their adult years. My dad who has helped with transport and looking after my brother while I travelled or needed time to myself has been invaluable, not to mention the love and support he has given to us by being the only parent we have left... It’s been a hard year for all of our family, and especially on dad, and I will love him forever.

My best friends Jo, Nathan, Noella, Coralee, Bernard, Murray, Nima, Shadow, Nagas, Ali, have all been there as the first people who I have called to cry my eyes out too or just sit and listen while I mourned. They travelled to be with me on my mother’s funeral and showed true friendship to the fullest and for that I will be forever grateful to them all. To my Tableland peeps, Linda, Mary, Kristina, Mazzer, Saime, To my Brissy girls Nerida, Avelina, Cristilee, My Sydney girls and boys, Yaleela, Barbie, John, Katayla, Kate, Ren, Kodie, Ebs, Victoria, Josie, Missy, Pauline, Brad, Kaleesha, all of my AFTRS Crew, especially Kyran, To my Townsville crew, AG, Vee, Barbs, My Darwin/Batchelor Crew, Trina, Gilmore, Darren, My Cairns crew Rachelle, Malcolm, Bradley, My boy Pumpkin in Melbourne and anybody else that I may have missed that have been there for me in more ways than one, I can’t say thank to you enough for all that you have brought to my year in the ways of love and care... Just know that when your dark days show, I will be there right beside each of you in return...


When I moved back here, I came to the realisation that I would probably have to sacrifice men and the dating scene; after all, there are not a lot of choices in a place like this. Farmers or young 21yr old lad’s is probably your only option up here and I’d decided that I’d rather have none. Turns out I ended up having a relationship in the most unlikely year of all (neither with a farmer or a 21yr old lad thank god LOL). Although it didn’t last long, and a good friendship was broken by failed love, I gained experience in what I want and need for the future when it comes to guys being in my life which means inevitably in my brother’s life as well.

I loved and was loved, I have no doubt about that, but it didn’t work out, so we move on; thus is life. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with some great guys this year and know if anything, I’ve formed some great friendships and learnt some great lessons. As they say, better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all. Right now in my life, I’m as single as they come and want to be for me trip to America... hehe... But in 2012, I wouldn’t say no to any real offers that may or may not come my way.

I guess you never really know what life will throw at you in one of the worst years of your life and I definitely didn’t expect romance, relationships and other things to be a part of 2011 so I guess I’m grateful for the experience’s overall.

Our mother’s one year anniversary will be in a month’s time on the 29th December. The raw emotion of her loss is still fresh within our hearts and minds and I know without a doubt I and everybody in our family and who knew her will take a heavy hit to the chest on that day. When the clock strikes 12 midnight on December 31st 2011, I will kiss this year goodbye knowing I faced adversity at its greatest and came out on top with my brother in tow.

People have said to me, ‘I don’t know how you’ve done it’ and I can honestly say it’s because of my brother that I’ve been able to get up and get on with my everyday life day in and day out. Yeah it’s been hard to get him to listen to me, we’ve had fights, I haven’t been perfect and neither has he, but without each other, we both wouldn’t be standing here strong 12 months later. Having a positive outlook that things will change and hard situations will improve, as well as having an appreciation of the things I’ve got has got me through it all without a doubt.

So what will 2012 bring? Hopefully change, happiness and love for those who I love and those who love me, because when it’s all said and done, what you achieve in life and how you’ve gone about achieving it, will leave a lasting legacy in the minds of others when it’s your time to eventually leave this planet.

To everybody that has seen me through this year’s dark times and it’s good, thank you. Sending you all light love and best wishes for the New Year and see you all in 2012...

One Love, One Life

Carly xo

Sunday, October 30, 2011

'Next Of Kin'- The Last Kinection, Album Overview

For the past few years, a DJ and two siblings have dominated the Indigenous Hip Hop scene. Known for their explosive upfront lyrics and slick production, The Last Kinection are back with a brand new album ‘Next Of Kin’...

It’s been a long time in between albums from the trio, who have spent a good part of the last 2 years touring and performing their award winning first studio album ‘Nutches’. The group have worked tirelessly travelling to Regional parts of Australia as well as metro areas lifting crowds both black and white while winning the hearts of critics with their thought provoking, edgy music.

If I have to be honest, I woke up on Friday 28th October, the day of release for ‘Next Of Kin’, opened my eyes, reached across for my I-Phone and began to purchase the album. I remember working in Radio in Townsville when female Mc ‘Nay’ first sent me a copy of the Nutches album to listen too and I walked into our back studio and sat and listened to it from start to finish without skipping a track. Since then, I went on to KILL their entire Nutches album on my breakfast show, seen them perform their hits live many times, both in QLD and in Sydney, as well as see them stand on the stage of the Opera House and win several music awards for it. The build up for the new album for me and Ozzie Hip Hop fans alike, has been well worth the wait.

Track one off ‘Next Of Kin’ is something we’ve come to expect from TLK, using powerful speech with a message about black issues, mixed with an anticipating beat behind it. It sets up track 2 on the album perfectly, the stand out track ‘Find a Way’ with Lyrics like ‘I’m so tired of being a victim, we gotta find a way or make one’, with language and the use of clap sticks, it gives me a sense of empowerment every time I’ve listened to it.

TLK are known for sending strong messages with their music and track number 3 ‘Together’ feels like it has the potential to come alive and punch pollies in the face. Nay and Weno tell it how it is, speaking about cultural difference within our communities and touch on the Australian Refugee debacle... ‘I was born team human, every day I will stay’.

The overall sound of this album has touches of the ‘Nutches’ album with a few similarities in tracks like ‘Millions of people’ with the same unique sound that TLK have now been know for, but on the other hand it has a rock element to it which I've only seen in their live shows. I love the bridges and the chorus mixed with Nay’s incredible voice but I also love that the trio has stepped out of their boundaries by adding more of a rock element to this album, as well as keeping their TLK energised hip hop beats they are known for. Track 11, ‘Prove them wrong’ has probably one of the most individual sounds with what I would describe as a ‘Transformer’ like sound about it. It’s so banging it’s not even funny and the best part is it’s mixed with lyrics that hit home; ‘Next of Kin’s sound has it all, it’s refreshing, entertaining and it’s engaging.

I’ve also found myself bumpin to the classic hip hop snares featured on track number 7, ‘1995’. When TLK rap about what they were all doing in 1995, it brought me back to my age then, a 10 year old girl growing up in a black house hold and environment discovering and loving the hip hop industry just as much as they did. Guest MC ‘Ozi Batla’s’ verse is fierce and the whole track resonates reliability with mad lyrics and flow. The classic hop hip beat of ‘1995’ has the energy of a young ‘Naughty By Nature’ and requires a special mention to DJ Jaytee on this one, who is exceptionally talented in the art of turn table-ism; his dedication to every scratch is nothing short of remarkable throughout this track and the entire ‘Next Of Kin’ album.

Guest MC’s like Indigenous Hip Hop straight teller ‘Briggs’ makes an appearance with his raw input on the song, ‘Burning Bridges' as well as Rival Mc from Brisbane Based ‘Impossible Odds’ adding his smoothness to track number 8, ‘Strong remain’. These Mc’s and others on the album bring a united love of their art and lend their talents to some of the heaviest and most powerful tracks on the ‘Next Of Kin’ album.

The first video release off ‘Next Of Kin’ comes in the form of ‘’Are we there yet’, shot in the Wenitong’s home town of Cairns, Far North Queensland. Nay’s former ‘Shakaya’ colleague ‘Simone Stacey’ lends her vocals to this song with a story about our past and how we plan to get to where we want to go as Indigenous people in the future. The video also tells the story of Joel and Nay Wenitong’s grandfather who was black birded to work on the cane farms in his earlier years.

The thing the Last Kinection does so well and what puts them in a whole other category to a lot of others is their individuality. In my eyes, they are one of many setting the standard for high quality Indigenous Hip Hop and are role models for up and coming MC’s. I love introducing people both black and white to the Last Kinection’s music because they’re so universal and have the ability to literally challenge and change stereotypes of Indigenous issues and the Hip Hop industry as a whole. Their music is raw and upfront, but at the same time, it’s entertaining, professional and something that the Ozzie Hip Hop industry should be proud of; I know I am...

‘Next of Kin’ by the Last Kinection is now available nationally in all good music stores as well as online at www.elefanttracks.com and through I-Tunes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An Ageless situation.....

I can’t say that the dating game is getting any easier. I thought by the time I was 26, there would’ve been some guy who had of stepped up and wanted the responsibility and challenge of someone like me, and don’t get me wrong, there have been contenders, but none that could last all rounds.

Here lies one of the problems with being single at my age; the selection of men who you have to chose from. In North Queensland alone, it’s safe to say that most people have their first child before the age of 25, I on the other have never had the desire for children. Flash forward a few years and I still have contenders, but the problem is, they are all younger than me.

It seems that all males my age or older have disappeared into ‘marriage land’ or if single, have major commitment problems or a thousand kids to different woman. I may seem like I’m exaggerating but I can honestly say, the guys I know my age or older have those issues or are in the dreaded ‘friends zone’. Younger guys can be fun, but fun is all they can offer me if we’re being completely honest. I guess I’m at the age where I like to have someone who will challenge me, someone who can look after themselves and not want to tie me down with their ‘I’m the provider’ bullshit. The thing is, I’ve been independent for a long time, the last thing I need is to be smothered or settle for a half done ‘prince’... It’s a fine line.

After the honeymoon stage is over, after the warm and fuzzy feelings start to fade, the phone calls dwindle to once a week and all the ‘I love and miss you’s’ have been said, your left with someone who is on a completely different level. When you watch Q&A and they still watch ‘Family guy’ religiously, that’s when the ‘age difference’ shows itself. I could quite easily keep messing with men younger than myself, or I could wait for someone who is single, without child, mature and intelligent. The problem is, the ratio of younger, un-relateable men is much higher to single, without child, mature, intelligent men. We’re not talking rocket science here, it’s as plain and simple as this; a 26 year old female isn’t on the same level as a 23 or 21 year old guy. Anyone can be successful on a physical level with someone else when it comes to age, but intellectually and socially, it’s not always going to be a winning situation.

So, anyone got a solution for this predicament? Here’s mine; celibacy and staying single... YAY Fun..... As for the younger men who like to think they are ready for a woman like me, here’s a tip..... You’re on lay by for now, but until then, please leave me the f*ck alone... Many thanks...


-Woman who does not wish to be messed with at this moment in time-

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rural Dreaming...

When I was 15, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I got older. I didn’t have a burning desire to have a career or want an amazing job, university was out of the question; basically I knew that one day I would finish high school and go onto some sort of work, but besides that, I really had no clue on what my future would hold. As others around me started to get their future plans in order, I slipped through the cracks, chose all the wrong subjects at school and hoped for the best. It wasn’t until year 12, that by chance, a spark in my brain went off and the idea of becoming a radio announcer came to me.

After 8 months off work due to the death of my mother, settling back into the country lifestyle and taking on a fulltime parenting role with my brother this year, I am now working 3 days a week at my former high school in a ‘Youth Mentoring role’; helping kids (majority Indigenous kids) to get back on track and get them focused on their futures. Working in the education system is a complex one, and something that I am getting used to doing every week. From working by myself in a lonesome radio studio for years on end, to sitting beside my old Home Ec teacher in an admin block with busy office ladies and gents, is a world apart from what I’ve been used too in media for these past 7 years. Working with teenagers is not an easy task and I’m finding many of them are just like how I used to be when I was their age; oblivious to the fact that in just a few months/years, they will be out in the real world and have no real plan for their futures, yet aren’t fazed at all.

After 9 years away from High School, living in cities, working, studying and being independent, I know now that school doesn’t determine who you will become in the future. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for the fundamentals and the basics of reading and writing, counting and social skills, but as a whole, that woodwork class, legal studies class subject or any subject that you HAVE To take because there are no others that might interest you, aren’t going to determine who you will become as a person in life in general. I know for damn sure half the subjects I took at school haven’t helped me in my everyday life and think the pressures we put on kids today for them to know exactly what they want to do or who they want to be after school is disgraceful.

My new job is to meet and chat with kids about their goals, desired job paths, home life and behaviours and more often than not, the replies I get from these teens are things like, ‘I dunno, yeah maybe, kinda, yeah i guess’... On top of the doubt they have on themselves, many of our Indigenous kids then have the added pressures to stay close to their families and aren’t always willing to venture too far away from they’re mob for work or University. Some families are supportive, but a lot of the time, mothers and family groups are reluctant in rural areas to send their kids away. Some of these children are the first members of their family to go to University so the pressures seem so big, more often than not, a lot of them will give up on the idea of further study before they even give it a chance.

Living in a rural area, it’s not easy for children to dream big; I know I didn’t when I was a teenager. My industry and desired career of radio was a world away and something I had to chase and create out of nothing myself to get where I am today. Living in the bush can have its benefits but employment is hard enough in metropolitan areas as it is, so imagine what these kids have to look forward to when they leave school living in a township of just a few thousand people. There are only a few options here work wise when you leave high school: Traineeship or trade; the basics of hairdressing, mechanic, carpenter, retail, agriculture; all of which are fine, but I want and NEED these kids to know that you CAN in fact dream big in such a small place, you CAN do what you REALLY want to do and don’t have to just settle for whatever’s going. I see my job role to be one of a dream maker and dream believer, because a lot of these children don’t have the encouragement from their friends or family and will get left behind if they aren’t presented with realistic options or job choices. Majority of the time, many are willing to go along with whatever comes their way, so my job is to steer them into a job that they will wake up every day loving and wanting to do and not just because it was the only job in the paper that they were capable of doing.

Radio has always been my main passion and the only job I have ever known, but my second choice of employment was to one day work with Indigenous Youth, and now at 26, I am fulfilling another one of my goals in life. Although I miss radio and all the perks that come with it, I am enjoying this new path that has been presented to me; having the opportunity to help shape someone’s future is a powerful thing, I see it as a privilege and just hope that my life experience and guidance will be able help at least one child along the way. One can only hope...

Until next time, DREAM BIG...

One love, One life XO

Friday, July 29, 2011

My 2011 NAIDOC Speech at Atherton State High School

Atherton State High School on the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland (my old high school) is currently celebrating their 2011 NAIDOC week this week and I was honoured to be asked as a guest speaker at their Naidoc Week school parade yesterday... This is the speech I delivered... (please note, it is type out as a speech so please forgive the writing style) LOL

Mr Whybird, Distinguished guests, Teachers and students...
I would first like to acknowledge and pay my respects to the traditional owners of this country, and thank Aunty Louis for inviting me to speak today.

My name is Carly Wallace... I am a proud Dulguburra Yidinji woman from The Atherton Tablelands, born in Cairns and grew up in Yungaburra, and I’m a former student of Atherton State High School.

First and foremost, HAPPY NAIDOC Week to you all. The theme for this year’s NAIDOC week is ‘Change: The next step is ours’... So how does this relate to me?

As I said earlier, I was a student here at Atherton High from years 8 to 12 and graduated in 2002 as one of about 4 Indigenous students in my year to do so..... If I have to be honest, school wasn’t my thing... I grew up in a single parent household, I never really got good grades, I didn’t understand the work and didn’t cope well with study. I didn’t go for my OP Score, I had no desire to go to University and had no idea of what I wanted to do for a job or career after school. School to me was basically just for socialising; that was until a friend asked me in Year 12, if I would help her commentate for sports day. This had never been done before so I thought, why not... A tent on the oval with my mate and I in it, a stereo and a set of microphones, started what was to be my career so far.

That single day of mucking around and talking dribble to the whoever was bored in the grandstand listening, sparked something in my brain and gave me a crazy idea that ‘Hey, maybe I could get PAID to talk dribble for a living’, and with that, I started to pursue a career in Media, in particular, Radio.

So with just a few months left to go of year 12, I made a trip down to James Cook University, who at the time were doing testing for their batchelor of communications course to begin in 2003. I sat for my tests and came back to the Tablelands with the news that I would be going to Uni in just a few months. As it turned out, I ended up deferring the course and chose to do a 1 year Humanities tertiary Access course instead at JCU in Townsville.

After completing the year long course, I decided to take a year off to ‘find work’ in 2004. Living on welfare, as a job searcher with no experience besides hospitality, I began to be depressed, and my dreams of radio were becoming beyond my reach.

At the end of 2004, I decided to volunteer at the Indigenous Radio station, Radio 4k1g in Townsville. I had no on air experience, all I had was the desire to make it happen, and make it happen I did. The staff had faith in me; I was 19 year old at the time and they decided to put me on air for 1 hour a week. That one hour lead to casual fill in work; filling in for nearly every show on the station when the announcers were away, as well as my own music request show. I volunteered for 2.5 years and completed my Certificate 3 and 4 in Radio Broadcasting from Batchelor Institute in the Northern Territory externally in the meantime. In 2007 and after a few years of volunteering, I landed the position as Fulltime Breakfast announcer at the station at the age of 22.

In 2009, my final year at the station, I was honoured to be nominated for a Deadly Award for ‘Radio Broadcaster of the Year’ at the Sydney Opera House... Although I didn’t win, it was a humbling experience to be recognised by my people with the nomination.

After 2.5 years of 4am wake ups and speaking to an audience that stretched beyond Townsville, up in to the cape, Gulf Regions and the Torres Straits, I found it was time for a change and resigned from my position in 2009. Unsure of my next step, I was lucky enough to get a call from the top media school in the country, ‘The Australian Film Television and Radio School’, otherwise known as AFTRS in Sydney, informing me that I had been 1 out of 10 people selected in the country to undertake my Graduate Diploma of Radio at the prestigious school in 2010.

From living in North Queensland my whole life, to living in Sydney by myself with no friends or family, living on a student budget and living out of an Aboriginal hostel all year, it was one of the most challenging paths I have ever had to take in life. After 9 intense months of study, I graduated in November last year in front of 500 people, as the First Indigenous Radio student in the school’s history with my ‘Graduate Diploma in Radio Broadcasting’.

After graduating from AFTRS, I landed a much sort after producing job at ABC Local Radio Sydney and was due to start a new position with Triple J radio in January this year, until I received a phone call that was to change the course of my life as I knew it. In late December last year, I got a call from my family informing me that my mother had passed away suddenly. The very next day, I threw in my job and flew home to be with my family and take up the role of fulltime carer of my 13 year old brother Eika Stewart, who is here today in year 8.

I guess this is where I relate to this year’s NAIDOC theme the most. Change- ‘The next step is ours’. My life has seen the biggest change so far in the last 6 months. From living in a city of millions, chasing and living out my career in radio, to moving back to the Tablelands after 10 years away from it to take care of my little brother in a township of just a few thousand people. Although it has been hard to adjust to this change, it is a choice I do not regret making.

These days, at the age of 26, I am occasionally contracted on a part time basis by AFTRS to help run and teach Radio workshops to Indigenous communities and broadcasters, recently travelling to Thursday Island in the Torres Straits, and to Sydney to work with Radio 4MW and Koori Radio staff to help better their radio skills. My goal for the future is to eventually start up my radio career once again and continue to share the positive stories of my people to the wider community, through the medium of radio.

My message to all of you young people today is to find something you are passionate about and pursue it to the 10th degree. No goal is unachievable if you really want it. Your life will take twists and turns and your path will change along the way, but it’s up to you and it’s up to us on how we will embrace those changes and turn them into something great for ourselves... I hope you all enjoy NAIDOC week for 2011...

Thank you for having me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Uncomfortable Skin of Black Youth

Taking on a parenting role, your sole job in life is to take care of a child and protect them from the evils life can offer them.

In the past few months, I’ve watched my brother slowly turn into a young man. His facial hair growing slowly and his voice changing with a slight crack in it. I am enjoying the last few months with him as a ‘Child’ because I know, I’m going to blink one day and his childhood will be stolen from us, just like his baby years were.

Although all I do is try my best to protect him from the things that can hurt him in life, I know there are something’s that I won’t be able to avoid. In the past few weeks, he’s come home from various places (eg: shopping centres, McDonalds), and told me of his ‘experiences’. Older people pushing in front of him in lines, pretending they haven’t seen him, people taking their time to serve him at the counter, people rolling their eyes at him; all of these experiences that he has had to feel.

The reality is, my brother has dark skin and he LOOKS every bit aboriginal; he is also young, loud and talented. His future should be filled with bright lights, opportunity and a sense of belonging, but lately, all I have heard from his experiences is negativity, racism and attempts to bring down his light hearted nature. I’m 26, but remember what it was like as a black youth growing up in country North Queensland. The funniest line I think I was ever subjected too was ‘Go back to where you came from’..... HHHMMMM Yeah they breed them smart up here. Oh and if you were wondering what my response to that was to that skinny white boy in my year 10 Manual Arts class, telling me, a traditional owner of the country of that very land ‘to go back to where I came from was’.. Yeah, let’s just say me and the extremely sharp chisel I was holding in my hand got kicked out of class(The Injustice).

The thing that troubles me is that my brother is a young black MAN... I know people who read this who aren’t Indigenous will say, ‘it happens to everyone’ and yes, nearly every young male experiences some kind of youth discrimination in their time, but black men in North Queensland in particular, seem to be subjected too it more so. Why? Our youth are unfairly targeted and no matter how good of a family they come from, or the strong values they are taught by their families, they will still be a young black male to the eyes of society and up here in North Queensland, that means to the post man at the post office, to the security guide at the shopping centre, to the angry teacher in class, to the police and the white woman pushing in front of him in line at McDonalds.

What can I do as his older sister to stop him from experiences the everyday youth discrimination and racism as a black male? The answer unfortunately, is I can’t do anything to stop it. Instead my advice to him is simple; know where you come from, educate yourself and become smarter than these Aussie Bogans who don’t know any better. Our mother taught us never to sit down quiet and never let anyone walk over the top of you, so even though these experiences are unnecessary and disheartening, I know he will become stronger from them and live up to our mothers expectations and stand his ground.

It sickens me that I can’t be there for him in every discriminative moment he will experience in his life, and it sickens me even more that I see it with my own eyes. Why our society is like this, I still don’t understand. The burden he and every other black man carries in their life is something to be admired. The thing is we just get used to it. We get used to the security guards following us in the shops or the old white woman tisking at us, but why should we? After 200+ years of somewhat bullsh*t oppression, I guess you can call it resistance to the way we get treated. The difference with my brother though will be self esteem, cultural identity and a strong sense of belonging that will urge him to stand his ground and speak up for himself.

My brother turns 14 in November. He’s still afraid of the dark, still asks me if he can sleep in my room every night, still rides his bike around the neighbourhood, and still says ‘I love you’ to me before he goes to bed. I am cherishing every moment of his childhood before his youth and adulthood kicks in. I just hope the harsh society in which he will become familiar with in the near future doesn’t break him too much and he still maintains some of his innocence without becoming too angry like a lot of other brothers I know. One can only wait and see... Until next time, I keep the faith...

One love, One Life...


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sydney and 6 Months since she's been gone...

Returning home to North Queensland after spending a week in Sydney is never an easy thing to do. Some people hate the city life and spend every working hour of their lives planning to escape it for greener pastures one day. I on the other hand thrive in it. The busy city streets, swamped crowds awaiting the green man at the traffic lights, the corporate women in their designer suits and un walkable high heeled shoes, the haze that hovers just above the city skyline and the everyday feeling of freedom and opportunity. City living isn’t for everyone but for me it’s my ultimate lifestyle.

This recent Sydney trip, I stayed in the suburb of Surry Hills. Close to the city and a mix of poor and rich, this suburb is funky, metro and vintage. The people of Surry dress how they want to dress. Clothing attire is individual and ‘screams look at me’. The artistic world takes its place with the people’s fashion alongside the old Terrace houses that line its streets. Big bold glasses, brown sports jackets worn with black boots and green skinny jeans, topped with a hat to the side with a feather on top describes the normal look for many who call Surry home. I had the pleasure of calling Surry home for a few weeks last year and found that I probably wasn’t cool enough to live in the suburb. Me and my 80’s style kicks tried our best anyways.

Walking down Crown Street, the second hand clothing stores are more popular than the designer label stores, and the organic food shops (as expensive as they are) are all packed with people wanting guilt free food for their insides. The trees stand along on the streets of Surry, often their bark is grey/white and the leaves barely green. As you take in the sights and sounds (and sometimes smells) of Surry Hills, there is an overriding feeling that you can be anyone you want to be in Surry Hills. It’s refreshing and rewarding to know that here, no one gives a sh*t what you think about them!

I spent Friday night with some of my awesome twitter girls who I want to give a shout out too; all outspoken, all incredibly smart, all down to earth and not afraid to hold back on a subject they are passionate about. A law student, a manager at a corporate accounting firm, a DJ, a fashion design student, and then me, a former radio announcer turned full time carer. Sitting around a table up the back of a loud and dark little cocktail bar on a Friday night drinking Margaritas’ and Majito’s with REAL WOMEN who speak REAL TALK was just what my soul needed. Thanks girl!!

Flying home after my 3rd Sydney trip this year was even harder given that tomorrow will mark 6 months since my mum passed away and 6 months since I made the move back to the country after living in the city I loved. 6 months later and my brother and I are good. We are healthy and alive. He is my strength everyday and we get each other through the good and the bad. 6 months feels like a long time ago, but it also feels like only yesterday when I think of my mum and my old life in the city. I miss her everyday and emotions are still as raw as they were since the day she left us. I think of all the things she has missed out on seeing this year, like my brothers first day at school, my birthday, my nephew starting prep, our dinners at Aunty and Uncles, family days at the creek and her 50th birthday.

I miss my mum more than words can say. There isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t cross my thought process. A smell, a song, a bath gel I saw of hers in a $2 shop are all the small triggers that will creep into my daily life to remind me that she is no longer here with us. Although I know she is always with us in spirit, but not being able to pick up the phone to call her or receiving a text from her or even just needing to call her for advice when I’m in a tough spot or someone is getting me down is the hardest thing to comprehend about her death.

The everyday things she would do as a mother are now gone and are now forced on me to do for my brother. A choice I do not regret and a choice I am embracing daily. I take every day as a new day and just hope that I am doing her proud with raising him on behalf of her. I will never be her, nor will I ever be good enough, but I am trying my best with the limited experience I have in this role as carer. I know that one day I will see my mum again, it’s just a matter of time, but until then, every day, every month and every year that passes will result in me becoming a little emptier without her in my life. This is my reality.

All I have time to do these days is sit and think. 6 months later, here, there are no busy streets; there are no power suits or high heels, no hazy city skyline, no Surry Hills attitude, nor the sense of opportunity or freedom. Instead there is me, my brother, our dog Ali, our 3 bedroom house and a lot of hope that we will one day again taste the sweet taste of success in our lives. Until then, I will keep the faith...

One love, One life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Can I Get Directions To and From Goodbye?

Love, kindness, selflessness, compassion, patience and respect; these are just a few of the values that I believe nearly everyone growing up gets taught... These values are often easy to show and practice towards others but funnily enough, not always given in return at times when you need them the most.

It’s funny how life works when it comes to love and relationships. We will more often than not meet people in times when we aren’t searching and the feelings of joy and happiness of sharing your life with another start to take over. Excitement enters your life and all you can think about is that person and how they make you feel. You begin to know what makes each other tick, your dislikes, the things you share in common and begin to develop a level of genuine care for each other. So how do we go from all of this to eventually falling out of love?

We’ve all had those moments when we’ve gone from those heightened emotions of joy and euphoria to having enough of a person, not feeling it, having our loved one walk away from us or just being over the whole relationship you once shared with that person. When it’s time to part ways, no one likes to say goodbye, our minds try their best to keep on track but our heart tells us another story and toys with every emotion we have inside of us.

Depending on the break up/departure, I’ve realised other certain characteristics we don’t show as much in life, suddenly make an appearance; Ruthlessness being one of them and being straight up heartless when we need to be, the other. If break ups were meant to be easy, we’d all still be with the ones we once loved. When it’s time to be ruthless, heartless and unforgiving, we need to be in order for our hearts to heal and our souls to regather it’s self.

The biggest mistake we make is holding onto something that we know we should let go of. What we don’t realise is, when we hold on to something ‘that once was’, all we are doing is emotionally crippling ourselves. Although we may be sad and shed countless amounts of tears about it, if we hold onto something when it’s clearly not going to work, we only have ourselves to blame for all of the heartache we will feel day in and day out. If we chose to live with the pain others inflict on us instead of saying, ‘No, I deserve better than this’, then we are subconsciously choosing that life of inbetween and misery.

Emotional baggage that our pasts leave with us is enough to change you as a person. It is no secret that to fully stop caring about a person you once loved takes time but it also begs the question, ‘Once we delete people from our lives, do we ever really stop loving or caring for them, or do we just pretend too when it’s time to cut the cord? The bad news is, we will always care about a person we once cared for, no matter how bad they treated us or what they put us through, it’s human nature to do so, but the good news is, with time, our mind's soon start to forget about them, and our hearts go on to eventually love others.

People will always come into our lives and leave for different reasons. The heartache when you experience a break up clouds your thought process and you are unable to see exactly why it is you are both departing. There is a lesson to be learned in every person we meet and say goodbye too in life if we really sit and think about it. How that person impacted you at the time inevitably goes on to shape the person you are today and what kind of person you will be emotionally in the future.

Perhaps we become weaker from our breakups and maybe walk away from it stronger. Depending on the reasons for saying goodbye, some of us may lose trust in love, or some may in fact grow faith that there is some one better waiting for them just around the corner. Either way we look at it, it’s just another one of life’s lessons that we need to learn and grow from. When it's time to go forward and say goodbye to the person you once cared for, just remember to let the old you guide the new you. Let go when it’s time to let go and move on with faith and hope that life will bring you the joy you truly deserve in time.

The directions to goodbye and beyond are easy to find once you start to shift your way through the pain. The sadness you feel now, will get easier IF YOU LET IT...

Until then,

One Love, One Life X

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Brother and Me...

Those that know me, know that I I’ve never really wanted children. I didn’t ever see myself as the mother type, and still don’t to a point. When mum passed away late last year, it was my decision to stop work and move home from Sydney to take care of my 13 year old who she left behind; not the easiest decision to make at 25 years old, but one I have no regrets about making.

The road so far has been paved with many challenges along the way. Not only did I leave behind a life in Sydney, but to a point, I left a lot of myself back there as well. A lot of people, including family were worried about me and how I would cope looking after my brother and I can’t lie and say it’s been all easy these past few months, but by taking it day to day, my brother and I have finally started to form a good routine and Rhythm.

I recently received a long term guardianship order from the court system informing me 6 months down the track that I have now been named my brothers sole guardian for life. Since mum left us, it has been the ultimate struggle everyday to even get up in the morning and face the world each day. Although at times all I’ve wanted to do was curl up and deal with things in the way I’ve always dealt with them in the past, I couldn’t, because I have a 13 year old that depends on me every day of his life now. This has been my strength in what has been without a doubt the hardest 6 months of my life.

Today my brother and I are doing okay but that doesn’t mean that it gets any easier. No day is the same as the next when you have a teenager to take care of and in these past few months I have learnt a few lessons about myself. I’ve learnt that I am a lot more patient when I need to be. I do genuinely have concern for someone else’s life now that it is in my hands. I am more aware of how I spend my money and how my actions, whatever they maybe will ultimately affect my brother.

What makes our bond even more special is the fact that my brother is actually my cousin by blood standards. My mother became his fulltime carer when he was just a few weeks old after his biological mother (my aunty) was unable to take care of him. It’s hard for outsiders or non indigenous people to see how he is called my brother, but the way Indigenous families are, it is a kinship, a bond for life, no matter how close or far the bloodline may be. My mum was the only mother my brother knew, she raised him as her own and I see him in no other way but brother. If you are family, then you are my family, end of story.

With him being ‘adopted’ into our immediate family, and now with mum gone, I have had to go through the process of the courts and government departments in order for him to be legally in my care for good. On top of grieving for our mum and trying to adjust to a new life living back in the country and trying to take on a parent role; having to fill out countless paper work, deal with total government strangers and a system we aren’t used too, has been the heaviest Burdon to carry during the most difficult time. Being handed that one piece of paper from a magistrate granting me my brother’s guardianship was probably the biggest relief I have felt in my life.

Parenthood has been a strange ride for me so far. Things like telling him to be home from riding his bike at a certain time, and then when he doesn’t come back at that set time, the panic that sets in and the concern for his safety. The constant worry as a parent/guardian/carer is the thing that is constantly weighing on your shoulders everyday he leaves to go somewhere by himself. He cut his finger last night when washing up the vegetable peeler and it was my first time having to put a bandaid on his finger. Him as a teenager and the test he’s set for me, have also tested my abilities as an adult and matured me a lot more I feel. Times like these remind me of my new found responsibility, but 6 months later, we are finally finding our feet as Sister and brother/Carer and Child.

My brother and I have always had a close bond. I was there for the first few years of his life. I helped to change his shitty nappies, to feed him, make his bottles, bath him, dress him, and watch him take his first steps and words. He was the cutest little baby and everyone who ever met him loved him immediately. Today at 13 (turning 14 in November), He is loud, proud, funny, energetic, smart, aware and handsome (and he knows it too).

It’s a great feeling to watch him grow and develop everyday and I think how lucky I am to have this opportunity to guide him through the stages in his life. The way he has dealt with our mothers death has been one of the reasons what has kept me so strong. His strength and the way he has composed himself through it all has proved to me that he will grow up to be a strong determined black man.

What my brother has had to go through from the moment of his birth and now with our mother’s death, I don’t think I or anyone else will ever fully comprehend, but I feel he is lucky to have the love and support of us, his family, for the rest of his life. It won’t always be perfect, we will always fight and bicker at times, but we will no doubt have many good times also. There is still a long way to go for the both of us; A whole life time in fact, but regardless, I will be there for him through the good times and the bad, like I know he will for me, because that’s what makes us who we are and that was how we were raised to be; one blood...

Until Next Time...

One life, One Love X


Monday, May 23, 2011

To The Torres Straits and Beyond!

To say the past 5 months has been a rollercoaster for my brother and I would be an understatement. After our mum passed away in December, I threw away my job with ABC radio and an opportunity to work for Triple J in January and moved straight back to North Queensland to take care of my brother full time. This has been my fulltime job since returning and as for radio; well it took a back seat in my life for the first time in 7 years.

5 months away in the radio industry is a LONG Time; Styles change, new people enter the industry, technology advances, music changes, news stories develop daily. While all this was occurring in the radio sector, I wasn’t even remotely focused on any of it, until the week that just passed.

There are many Indigenous radio stations all over Australia, from Capitol Cities and towns such as Sydney (Koori Radio), Darwin (Larrikia, Teeba Radio), Melbourne (3KND), Townsville (4k1g), Cairns (Bumma Bippera), to the most remote parts of the country (Pakam network), Alice Springs (CAAMA Radio, 8kin Fm), Maningrida and others. Indigenous Radio is not only important for the diversity of Australia, but for many of these communities, it is the heartbeat and the go to for community information.

I started my career in Indigenous media and still hold it in high regards. Indigenous media is constantly being watched and is never underestimated because it is a voice for Indigenous Australians and a way of being able to communicate, educate and entertain our people. As far as I’ve come since my years in Indigenous media, I still never forget where I come from and am proud to represent indigenous media to this day.

I was lucky enough to be asked by my old place of study, The Australian Film Television and Radio School from Sydney to help deliver a Radio workshop as a facilitator on beautiful Thursday Island in the Torres Straits in this past week. AFTRS runs and delivers 4 short radio workshops a year to indigenous communities all over the country, with the aim of refreshing and teaching Indigenous broadcaster’s basic radio skills to improve their on air skills and their overall sound of their respected radio stations. To be asked to help lecture a radio workshop to over 12 people in a community I’ve never been too was going to be a challenge, but one I took up, and with that, I was off to ‘T.I’...

Flying on the plane up, I was so amazed to see how beautiful our North Queensland coastline is. Looking out the window, you couldn’t tell where the sky started and where the water began, the blues were so bright and the water so calm. The Great Barrier Reef was on show to its full potential thanks to the beautifully sunny day we were presented with that Sunday arvo. I sat and listened to my specially made ‘T.I Beats’ playlist on my I-phone and enjoyed the hour and a half plane ride, all the while wondering what my co-lecturer looked like. To my surprise, ‘Mitch’ my co-lecturer ended up sitting in the seat behind me on the packed Qantas plane.

After a bumpy landing thanks to the strong sea breeze, we landed safely on Horn Island, aka walk across the tar mat through a colourful blue gate that says arrivals, right beside the gate that says departures. Our baggage was collected and put on a bus, and there I sat with Mitch chatting for the 10mins bus ride to the Jetty. Off the bus and onto ferry, and there we took a 5 minute boat ride across the picture perfect Thursday Island, then onto another bus to check into our hotel for the week.

The weather was so hot and sticky, a far cry from the cool Tablelands weather I had become used too in the past few weeks. Humidity and a burning hot sun hit me as soon as we left the hotel to have an afternoon walk. Later that evening, I met a few of the outer Island participants who had flown from their small communities (Warraber Island), (Yam Island), (Erub Island) to join in the week’s workshops. Harry, George, Raina and Rita were all really excited and ready to learn some new skills to later take back to their radio stations in their communities.

During our chats, a few of them mentioned that its common practice for them to sometimes be the only announcer for their stations on their islands, which for the most times requires them to be on air for over 12-14 hours in one day. As crazy as it is to believe, many do it straight or with minimal breaks in between because they love it and because they know they’re communities need it and expect it. Meeting such vibrant people who actually do this kind of hard work in radio, with average or below average equipment and resources, in townships of just over 250 people at times, earnt nothing but respect from me and after yarning for a good half an hour with the mob, the heat was getting to me and I called it a night. Air con pumping and a dark room, I slept soundly before my first day of lecturing the next morning.

Monday morning and day one of the workshop, Mitch and I arrived early to set up at Port Kennedy hall where the workshop was to be held and waited for the participants to arrive. One by one they came in and introduced themselves. The familiar faces I met last night were all smiles and eager to start. The main radio station on Thursday Island and for the Torres Straits is ‘TSIMA’ Or Torres Strait Islander Media Association’, Radio 4MW. The crew had shut their station for the weeks training and set their station to automation so they could all take advantage of the AFTRS training.

As everyone took their seats, Mitch and I began the workshop by introducing ourselves and I began by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the country as always. I found their reactions of ‘OOHHH SO YOUUUURR HER’ quite funny when I mentioned to everyone that I used to do breakfast radio at 4k1g (Sister station to their station) under the radio name of ‘CJAY’. One of the participants ‘Uncle Walter Lui’ came in late to the workshop and missed the Introductions came up to me in the morning tea break and looked at me with a confused look on his face and asked me reluctantly if I was ever on 4K1G, and when I explained to him my former position, he said he knew it was me (CJAY) because he had recognised my voice. He said he’d followed my career and remembered when I finished my last day on radio in Townsville and tuned in for it. I have been off air from 4k1g for just over a year and a half now and for him to say that to me was very humbling.

Industry Overview, Clocks and content, Content for Radio; selecting, preparing and writing were the first issues covered in the day and my first taste of Radio again in over 5 months. Finishing the day off, I went back to my hotel and sat at the Hotel Bar to hack into some wireless and felt that buzz of media come flooding back to me. I loved every minute of it and couldn’t wait to start the next day.

I went to school with a few girls from T.I, I studied at University with a few mob from T.I, I worked with a lot of Torres Strait Islanders and a lot of my best friends are Torres Strait Islanders, so over the years and friendships, I’ve come to learn and understand the lingo that is Creole. Broken English if you aren’t used to it, can be difficult to comprehend and can seem like a whole other language, so when it came to breaking down the information of the workshops, I felt I did it with ease. It was helpful for a lot of the participants as well as many of them didn’t shy away as they normally would to strangers and felt comfortable to ask me questions and know that they weren’t going to be understood when they spoke. Having the opportunity to speak and understanding basic Creole again felt deadly and was something I hadn’t had the chance to do as much since leaving Townsville.

Day two of the workshop, and I started to feel more confident with teaching and delivering some of the modules. ‘Interviewing and Developing Pre Recorded Packages’ were on the agenda and the group loved the exercises we would get them to do after each session. Well some did... hehe

The people of Thursday Island were all really friendly, and the surroundings were equally inviting. It’s the kind of place where people say good morning to you, where the sun beams early at 6am, where the water is so Blue and turquoise, the sea breeze blows strong and the food expensive but fresh. The hotel we stayed at had expensive meals, so each night we had a pub feed, with Reef and Beef, seafood baskets, fresh barra and salads on the menu, oh and did I mention, a crayfish pie for breakfast one morning.? Ah yeah, only on T.I...

Day three and the last day of the workshop started at the TSIMA studios where Mitch and I took two separate groups and got them to work on Audio Production and creating a pre-recorded package. Mitch headed back to Brisbane early and I was left to hold the forte for the rest of the afternoon. As the day came to an end, I was sad to say goodbye to the staff from TSIMA and the deadly mob from the outer Islands. I had my last dinner on T.I with Rita, and a enjoyed a few beers with Walter and Harry that arvo. The next morning I woke to turkeys squabbling just outside my hotel window and was wide awake way earlier than I needed to be. Not long after, I jumped on the 8:45am bus to the ferry, and as the sun rose over the water, I farewelled beautiful T.I and set sail for Horn Island, then back to cairns by plane by 12pm.

What an experience; flying to the tip of Australia for my very first time to the Torres Straits and for my first taste of Radio in 5 months. I’ve always had a dream of teaching radio to my own people, Indigenous People, but never thought in my wildest dreams that I would ever get the chance to do it at the age of 26. The feeling was nothing like I’ve ever experienced. The thrill of giving back, teaching, on top of my passion of radio, was truly unbelievable and I actually didn’t want to leave. I feel so fortunate for the opportunity and am looking forward to my second workshop at the end of next month in Sydney where I get to do it all over again with another group and another community. Bring it on!!

To the participants and the people of the Torres Straits, mina big essos to you pla for the warm welcome and hospitality you showed to me while I was on your beautiful country. I am blessed to have met you all and I can’t wait to one day go back to visit you all... Till next time... Yowal,

One love and one life.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A not so happy mother's day...

'Where will you be in 5 years from now?

I got asked this question just the other day, and I truthfully could not answer it. I’ve gone through my life so far planning and setting goals for myself, and all except a few, I have achieved. One of my main philosophies in life up until this point has been ‘No Regrets’. No regrets on the things you do, the things you say and on what choices you make day in and day out because what is meant to happen at that very moment in your life and will shape you to be the person who you are and become. Up until now, I have been able to say that I never once had any regrets on what I have done in my life so far, both the good and the bad.

When I was asked where I would be in 5 years, I knew I couldn’t honestly answer that question with a realistic outlook, so instead said, I wasn’t sure. Most people would say it’s a bad thing not to have a plan or not to have anything to work towards, but in my truthful opinion, I can’t give answer right now, because the lesson I have been taught in the past 6 months is, that ANYTHING can happen. Life has a way of twisting and changing when you least expect it. With that in mind, I am now learning to take it one day at a time and know that whatever will be will be.

My biggest regrets have come in the form of my relationships; my relationship with my mother in particular. My mum and I weren’t always close. We fought a lot when I was a teenager and as I read out in front of hundreds of people at her funeral service; my mum and I fought a lot because we were the same. It wasn’t until I left home that I realised this, and my mum and I became closer. Growing up with my mum wasn’t easy. She was known for her fiery temper and could hold a screaming match with me for hours.

My mum had a shocking upbringing (she too lost her mother at a very young age, forcing her to help raise her younger brothers and sisters) and became a mother herself at a young age to my older sister. When she was alive, she would always maintain that she didn’t have a role model of her own to base her parenting skills on, which meant she wasn’t always the best mother to us in her eyes. To me, she wasn't always perfect (who is) but she did the best she could with what she was given and gave us more than a lot of others in the world have.

My biggest regrets are that I only became closer to my mum in the last few years. I always loved her and appreciated her, but not to the extent that I feel I should’ve. I always envisioned my mother growing old and me and my sister fighting over who would take care of her while she bossed us around like an old black lady does with their kids, but instead, I only got to spend 25 short years with her before she passed away at the age of 49.

Four months later and the feelings of grief I have for my mum are still very raw. The days have gotten easier and I can now smile again. The crying when I go to sleep and when I wake has now subsided. Listening to the songs I played at her service or looking at photos has now become easier to do once more. I have comes to terms with the road that I live now and am happy that I am here spending the days and nights growing up my brother and being responsible for him becoming a strong young black man.

With these positives, there are also still moments that creep up on me. Remembering special times with mum and or just missing her wisdom and support will often cause unexpected tears to swell and my heart to once again ache. Although these times are hard, the hardest part is knowing that this part of the process will probably never leave me, and in a way I am glad it won’t because it means she is not forgotten.

I think if anyone knew how long they actually have to spend with their loved ones, they would appreciate them and treat them with the greatest respects every single day. For anyone who has ever lost someone who is close, I don’t think it’s irrational for me to wish that my mother were still here and that I could spend more time with her or tell her that I loved her more. As much as this eats away at me, the reality is, that’s the way it was, that’s the way life played out so far for us. My mother, if she were still here would do it all over again, the good and the bad and I would too. As hard as it is to dwell on regrets, I know there is nothing I could’ve changed, but am so grateful that my mum and I formed a healthy and happy friendship and bond long before she passed and for that, I am forever grateful.

Although she won't be here physically this weekend to celebrate Mothers Day, my brother and me will light a candle and still make the day about our mum... To my beautiful, funny, caring, LOUD, strong, intelligent, outspoken, loving mother, We miss you more than words can say and I cannot wait for the day we meet again... Until then...

One Love, One Life....

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Dragonfly...

WOW, 26 years old... So this is what it feels like.... *crickets chirp*.... It actually doesn’t feel any different except for my aching back. No, it’s not from old age or a bad romp in the sack, it’s sore because I finally got my first tattoo this week... I’m not gonna lie... My back feels like I’ve gone out into the sun, sat in it for about 12hours, and then let a fully grown man punch me in my sunburnt back repeatedly...

I’ve wanted ‘inc’ for a long time, but like other wimpy people, I’ve never wanted to fully commit myself to a piece of artwork on my body for all of eternity unless it was of some meaning. Oh and the pain, that could’ve also been a reason why I’ve gone without a tattoo for this long.

I always envisioned my first tattoo being some sort of picture I had drawn myself, something small and meaningful, but as it turns out, my first amount of Inc has been born out of a not so ideal situation.

My mother was a lover of Dragonflies. Anyone that knew her, or had been to her house, would know the love she possessed for those little flying creatures. She had dragonfly earrings, dragonfly necklaces, ornaments, wall hangings, statues, and other nick knacks all devoted to this one insect. It wasn’t until her death and these past few months that have followed, that I realised why she loved them so much.

The small delicate creature known as the dragonfly, flies quickly with precision, skimming across the water ways and creeks, moving in a way that looks as if they are deliberately dancing, going up and down, side to side, stopping only ever to hover above its selected place of destination to sip the cool spring water or relax its wings on a warm rock in the sun. This insect so small that moves so quickly, with colours so bright and wings so clear, really does remind you of the little things that make our planet so special.

Since mum passed away, the innocent dragonfly has stood out to me more so than in the past. Whenever I think of her, or miss her in times or occasions where I know she would’ve been with me and our family, I tend to see dragonflies at that very moment. Each to their own, but I believe that there is more than one life if you haven’t learnt your lessons, and reincarnation is not just a myth. I’m not saying my mum has reincarnated into a dragonfly, far from it, I just know that at these very moments, dragonflies tend to appear and always remind me of my mum.

Four months later with mum gone, there was no doubt in my mind what I was going to get as my first tattoo. The dragonfly I drew for my tattoo design isn’t the most feminine dragonfly. It has no colour; it is simply black, bold, loud and strong, reflecting the personality of my mum. Its wings have Aboriginal rainforest strokes inside of them to reflect our heritage, and it is tattooed on as if in a Hovering flight mode; a symbolic gesture of my mum’s continued journey beyond this life.

As I sat for 2.5 hours in the tattoo shop, with a number of small needles puncturing my second layer of skin, all laying down the strokes and lines needed to create my dragonfly, I thought of mum. I thought of her dancing to random songs just like the dragonfly dances when it flies. I thought of her cruising in her Toyota Camry from place to place, just as the dragonfly cruises independently up stream. I remembered her vibrant colourful T-shirts and jewellery she would wear, just like the dragonflies colourful body as it hits the sunlight. As I sat in pain, I knew that every inch of this Inc on my back was for my mum. I chose my back as the canvas for ‘Wayne’ my tattooist, because I know my mother always has my back, now and forever.

As much as I am still in pain, I’ve looked at this tattoo everyday since I’ve had it and it instantly reminds me of my mum. They say tattoos are addictive and I can see why. I’ve already started to think of more designs for my next one. My first tattoo though will always remain my favourite. For anyone contemplating getting their first tattoo, I say do it! If you have good reason, then even better; it truly is an art form and I am grateful for the eternity of Inc I now possess.

Until next time...

One Love, One Life.... XX

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The harsh reality that is the male species...

When I think of the dating world, all that comes to mind is ‘EERRRRR’... Hhhmm yes, not the most ideal outlook for a 25 year old single girl.

In high school I had a few boyfriends, but nothing too serious. I didn’t see myself as the most attractive girl and kind of just did my own thing through my teen years. It didn’t help that I had about 3 older male cousins at my high school who pretty much intimidated any guy that would even talk to me... Life’s not easy for a shy black girl with older cousins, ask anyone... But, like every other girl does, I later discovered dresses and heels; make up, alcohol and boys, and my normality as a female finally kicked in.

Every parents dream is to have their child meet a person, settle down and have children, and in my home town, this is very much the done thing. I on the other hand started to chase my career, right around the time (according to society) that I was supposed to be looking for love and beginning my urge to have children... Now, I don’t know what part of that memo I missed, but I didn’t do any of the above.

Okay, I’d be lying to myself if I said I wasn’t the looking for the love part, and I can say that in the past few years, after many failures, I did in fact experience love, but unlucky for me, it didn’t turn out... Whatever, I’m over it... hhhmmm ...

See, I have come to the conclusion that I am the ‘Good Luck Chuck’ of the female world. For anyone out there that hasn’t seen that movie, basically it’s a story about a guy who is with girls, than after they break up, the girl finds the love of her life. Basically I am the girl version of that guy... I am ‘The girl before’ the girl if that makes sense? Don’t ask me how I came to this farfetched conclusion, just know that it is true and I am still unsure why...

I was hanging out with a guy the other day, someone of interest one might say (shock horror) and he said to me, ‘I like you because you freak me out with your weirdness’... Now, this can’t be a normal thing for guys to say to girls, surely? I mean, I know I’m not normal, in fact I’m far from it; I have the driest sense of humour, I’m brutally honest, I have stupid moments, am very opinionated and love to sh*t stir, Oh yeah fulla’s, I’m the catch of the year, but for someone to straight out say that I’m weird was kinda refreshing in a weird way...

This same guy then went onto say that ‘He wishes I wasn’t so independent’....


So, okay, at this stage, let me break it down for you... I’m 25, 26 next week I’ve been living out of home and supporting myself basically since the age of 17, I’ve rented houses by myself, lived with people, travelled, attended government leadership forums, broadcasted on national radio, lived in a huge city without my family and friends, and now take care of a 13 year old boy, and you are surprised that I am independent?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to paint a bad picture of this guy, he’s actually really sweet and genuine, but for him to say that, I actually didn’t have an answer for him. In all fairness, he is a few years younger than me, and it was just nice for a guy to actually be honest to my face for once.

We all know men and women are opposites, Men are from mars and women are from Venus blah blah blah... Let’s just be real and say that men and woman and the whole entire human race are just one confusing element of life. I’ve been single for a few years now and even at the age of 25 and counting; I still can’t work out men fully. Just when I think I’ve got them all worked out, one will surprise me and all my theories will get thrown out the window.

I have a lot of younger female friends who ask me for advice on men and If I could give any, it would be, ‘Turn lesbian while you have the chance’... No really...... Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but maybe just not be so naive to the fact that men have 100 personalities all rolled into one...

My experience with men and having a lot of male friends, I have come realise a few facts about them. Now any guys reading this, try not to take offence, don’t write to me and carry on that I’m wrong and that I shouldn’t judge all men with these factors and I don’t, I’m just saying that 99.9% of men I’ve been involved with over the years, whether romantically or just as friends have all had most or some of these characteristics...

I’ve met black guys, white guys, younger guys, older guys, country guys and city guys and majority have all shown one of these traits. Most average men you will meet these days will have at least one of these characteristics I am about to share below, and if they don’t, then I will swallow my words... Okay with that said, ladies under the age of 25, and anyone over that that still hasn’t figured out why men are the way they are, listen up; I am no expert, far from it, but here are the basics I feel some women need to know:

Men are visual, brutally honest creatures. They are capable of cheating on you and then tell you to your face that they haven’t. They check out other girls when they are with you. They will be honest with you if you are honest with them. Majority of them love to watch porn. They will choose a boys night out over spending time with you 80% of the time. They don’t want you to meet their parents. They want a girl who can cook, clean and take care of them but also want the freedom of single life and seeing other girls. They will cheat on their girlfriends if given the chance. They will live at home for as long as they can until their mothers tell them to leave (which will never happen because mothers are enablers). They want you to want them but then don’t want you to be too needy.

They will fail any test you give to them and see it as you not wanting them and will move on while you’re still waiting for them to prove you wrong. After they break up with you they will be sad for about a week then will move on, usually with another girl. They will try to be friends with you after a break up, purely to keep having sex with you without the commitment (harsh but true). They all have realistic views of getting married one day but not necessarily to you. They want a smart girl, but hate it when you challenge them on a range of topics. They hate you spending your money on shoes, but love to see you wear high heels.

They have unrealistic fantasies of what you will do in bed all thanks to the many hours of porn they have consumed in their life time. They want you to be crazy in bed, but hate it if you’re too experienced. They have other girl’s numbers in their phone and will put them under different names if they think you will get upset about it. They have weak moments when they are drunk and tell you that they care for you and then the next day will deny it like they didn’t even say it. They will get angry and cause an argument over the smallest thing then wait till you have blown up, then they will get over it and pretend like it’s all good.

Okay, WOW, writing that, I can see why I’m single. Yes, some of it may not apply to all guys, but I bet majority reading this will have at least one or more of these characteristics. Ladies, my biggest advice for the dating game is not to expect anything from men, that way when they let you down, you aren’t surprised. I know my outlook isn’t the best, but then again with the above realisations of how men are, do you blame me?

There is a positive to men though.... Men keep you balanced, put you through some of the rawest emotions, do your head in and stress you out to the max. That doesn’t sound very positive I know, but trust me, these are all contributing factors to you becoming a strong and capable woman.

For me right now, I’m good just being by myself. I’ve done a lot of soul searching over the years and don’t apologise for an ounce of self dependence or confidence I may have. Although at times I am guilty for having very bleak outlook on the dating scene, I am also capable of believing and love and all that nice sh*t that comes with men and relationships. I know that everyone in the world meets different people at different stages of their life, and it’s just a matter of timing and attitude.

Until next time,

One Love, One Life X

One Love, One Life....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Indigenous Australia, what does it mean today?

The old misconception of ‘But you don’t look black’ has reared its ugly head this week, with a group of Educated Indigenous Individuals banding together to sue a certain columnist over comments he made about their skin colour and aboriginality.

I myself am a light skinned Aboriginal with Scottish heritage. I’ve gotten the line ‘But you don’t look black’ 1000 times, from both black and white people and my response is, ‘and you don’t look like a racist, but yet here we are’.

My mother had always told me from a young age that Aboriginality isn’t based on your skin colour, it’s about whom YOU Identify as... I grew up with my mum being the main influence in my life. My dad worked away a lot so it’s only natural that I embraced my aboriginal side more so than my Scottish. I have done Indigenous studies at a university level and am smart enough to know that, without my white side, I wouldn’t be standing here today, so I am equally as proud to be Scottish as I am to be aboriginal.

From a childhood of growing up on country in North Queensland, learning the stories and living the way of life I have lived, I have formed what I think is a very strong sense of culture and understanding of my people, my homelands and my race. Although I have spent years living away from home and working with Indigenous people from all across the country in media and at Youth forums and learning a lot about my culture, I am still seen as a baby in my family and know that I am still yet to learn more.

Those bigotry lines of ‘You don’t look aboriginal’, or ‘But your one of the good ones’ used to hurt, but with time and experience and a solid sense of identity, those types of comments no longer hurt me, but are still very much racist and inappropriate. I applaud this group of Individuals for taking this case through the proper channels and hopefully instilling change for those in the future who will no doubt face the same skin colour issue. Not only are these individuals taking a stand for their own identities and families, but for the whole of the nation and every light skinned Indigenous person out there. For this I am proud.

My mother’s generation and past ancestors grew up in a very different society to what my generation live in now. My mum often told me about the rifts between QLD Aboriginal people with NSW Blackfullas (Murris and Koori’s) and even with Torres Strait Islanders in the past, and how hostile it used to be between the different types of groups. I grew up with this misconception and it wasn’t until I moved away that I soon learned to form my own opinions on other indigenous people around the nation. Some of my best and most treasured friends now are Koori, Torres Strait Islander, and other's.

I have been lucky enough to travel a fair bit since leaving high school and work in media which has meant meeting a lot of different black people from all over the country. I’ve met Indigenous people from the very tip of Australia to the bottom, from the NT, To W.A, to S.A, to Hobart, and Shock horror, we aren’t all the same. The differences between Murri’s and Koori’s and Nunga’s and Noongar’s and whoever else come in many forms. The more obvious differences are with language, dance, features and way of life, but we all connect and share that one common similarity and that is our connection to our overall Aboriginal culture.

I was in one of the most recognised indigenous communities in the nation on the weekend, Redfern in Sydney, and it wasn’t until I was there, did I realise how many people I knew and said hello too. Ask any non indigenous person in Sydney what they think of Redfern and their feelings are mixed. For me as a girl from Queensland, walking into a place with so much history (the first aboriginal legal service in the nation, the first aboriginal medical centre in the nation, Redfern riots etc), it was an honour to be there and a real sense of pride comes over me every time I visit. It’s refreshing to know that wherever you go in this country as an Indigenous person, you will be able to make friends or make a connection with someone because there will always be a black face who is willing to extend the hand of friendship to you while you are in their country or community.

I’ve met all types of Indigenous people, from the darkest skinned to the lightest. I’ve met Black fullas with blonde hair and blue eyes, (my nephews and nieces all have these features), blackfullas with straight and curly hair, to red hair and freckles; Like the rest of the world, we come in different shapes and sizes, but most, if not all Indigenous people I’ve met in my travels, are all proud to be aboriginal. We rep our country, we rep our stories, our mob and hold that pride where ever we go; Sure our culture may have a lot of flaws, but then again, what other cultures don't?

Not all Indigenous people get along and we don’t all share the same sense of culture or identity, and I am so grateful to my mum and family for instilling in me such a strong sense of culture from a young age; This today, makes me who I am, it’s my identity and it’s the pride I carry with me where ever I go. My brothers and sisters, no matter your skin colour, be proud and stand tall....

One love, One life