The Message Stick of Port Phillip Citizens for Reconciliation
Supported by a Community Grant from City of Port PhillipMail to PO Box No. 1446, St Kilda South 3182
June 2004195 Bank St South Melbourne 3205
(03) 9690 0277, Mobile 0418 6757 34
FROM THE CHAIRS (by Co-Chairs Rosemary Rule and Dennis Fisher)
We were most fortunate to be able to listen to and meet Aunty Doris Pilkington, the author of the book "Rabbit Proof Fence,” upon which the film of the same name was based. Aunty Doris was our special guest at the National Sorry Day this year. Our commemoration was held in O’Donnell Gardens, St Kilda on Wednesday, 26 May, organised in collaboration with the City of Port Phillip. We are grateful for the support of the Council, especially Mikael Smith and Naretha Williams, and to our small band of loyal members who worked so hard to make sure everything went smoothly. Read more about Sorry Day elsewhere in this issue.
Plans for one of our major public events are well underway.
The focus is on health and education and we have some excellent speakers lined up. They include Professor Ian Anderson, Chair of Indigenous Health and founding director of the VicHealth Koori Health Research and Community Development Unit at the University of Melbourne who has many years experience working as an Aboriginal health educator and GP; Gregory Phillips, author of “Addictions and Healing in the Aboriginal Country,” who has a Masters in Medical Science, is one of Australia’s first indigenous medical anthropologists and Chairperson of the National Indigenous Youth Movement of Australia, and Marjorie Thorpe, Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.
Please mark the date in your diary: Wednesday, 30 June, 7.30pm, St Kilda Bowling Club, 66 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. (There is some parking available adjacent to the Club and local primary school and at the nearby parking station). This is a public event open to all interested people, entry by gold coin donation. If you would like to know more, please contact us by phone or email.
Plans for NAIDOC Week, 4-11 July, are in limbo as ATSIC, ordinarily the major sponsor, is being officially wound up by the federal government on 30 June. However PPCfR and the Council hope to be able to organise an event sometime during that week. More details in next month’s Mungo.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Please email Graeme Mulvey at or mail to 38 Cruikshank St., Port Melbourne 3207 (telephone
A group for people at home between city and sea. Explore reconciliation, the environment, justice and peace through meditation, prayer and action.
Held at 6.00pm first Sunday of the Month
Holy Trinity Church, 162 Bay Street, Port Melbourne
Leader – Rev. Sally Apokis 9646 3123
HARBOUR PROGRAM 2004 - “FLAVOURS”
May 2 Spice
June 20thWinter Solstice
August 1Hildegaard of Bingem
Public Discussion - What’s ahead for Indigenous people after ATSIC?
Stonnington Citizens for Reconciliation
invites you to a public discussion:
Representatives of the Australian Labor Party (Paul Klisaris), Australian Democrats (Jess Healey) and the Australian Greens (Richard Di Natalie) will outline their policies on Indigenous issues (the Liberal Party are unable to provide a representative). Targan (PhD student, Victorian College of the Arts) will provide an Indigenous perspective. There will be an opportunity for public discussion.
Tuesday 8th June, 2004
6 pm – 7.30 pm
Grattan Gardens Community Centre
(between Izett and Grattan Sts, Prahran)
Further details from
9819 9106 or
Sorry Day 2004
“Lest We Forget Unfinished Business” was the theme of Sorry Day, May 26, 2004. Among the many events held around the nation, a particularly significant occasion was the unveiling of a memorial at Reconciliation Place, Canberra.
The memorial honours the stolen generations and 'all those, indigenous and non-indigenous, whose genuine care softened the impact of what are now recognised as cruel and misguided policies.' The text, describing the impact of the policies, came out of consultation with hundreds of the stolen generations and those who staffed the institutions or fostered or adopted removed children. John Bond, Secretary of the National Sorry Day Committee, commented, “as South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has shown, the truth about what happened is a vital step on the road to reconciliation. This memorial takes that step.”
In our community, PPCfR members worked closely with the City of Port Phillip and their indigenous Programs & Policy Coordinator Mikael Smith and Community Arts Officer Naretha Williams, to organise a commemorative event. It attracted around 100 people, including people from Galliamble and Rainbow and a group from Port Melbourne Primary School.
The overcast weather quickly gave way to a clear sunny sky as Jason Tamiru performed a most moving smoking ceremony, invoking and summoning the spirit of Banjul. With the scent of gum leaves wafting over the crowd gathered in O’Donnell Gardens alongside Luna Park,, he recounted a spellbinding dreamtime story and played the didgeridoo.
Our Co-Chair Dennis Fisher was the perfect Master of Ceremonies (or Mad Countryman as he described himself), introducing the Mayor Cr Dick Gross, traditional owners Aunty Maria, Aunty Carolyn Briggs who officially welcomed us to country, and singer Faye Ball and her supporting duo. Special guest, Doris Pilkington, the author of “Rabbit Proof Fence” had travelled from WA to attend the official Sorry Day event in Melbourne hosted by Reconciliation Victoria and the City of Melbourne. After telling us a quite personal story about her life, Aunty Doris was kind enough to pose for photographs and do interviews for reporters from SBS TV and Channel 31.
We had tables of material - Sorry Day books, information leaflets, merchandise and other literature from Reconciliation Victoria, ANTaR Victoria and the Journey of Healing Committee that attracted the interest of many people. The sausage sizzle was well cooked by men from Galiamble and our own Harry Ward and Steve Pennells.
The smooth running of the event was made possible with the help and support of many people and organizations. Thanks to Liz Cavanagh representing Reconciliation Victoria and Ken Blackman representing ANTaR Victoria; to Mikael Smith, Naretha Williams, Carmel Shute and others from the Council, and a very special thank to our members who so graciously volunteered their time - Noelene and Harry Ward, Rosemary Rule, Gael Wilson, Liz Gallois, Peg Jones, Steve Pennells, and Dennis Fisher who helped promote the event on his program on 3KND and did a great job as MC. It was heartening to see so many people gathered to commemorate this day of significance and coming together in the spirit of reconciliation.
Volunteers wanted to work with Aboriginal Community Elders Services
The Aboriginal Community Elders Services (ACES), is an Aboriginal community controlled organization that aims to provide culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal people in a Caring Place. It comprises a 15 bed nursing home, a 10 bed hostel, a Daycare and a Community Care program.
Residents are high (nursing home) or low (hostel) care, with some short-term respite care. Most residents are 50 years or over.
ACES is directed by a board of Elders and managed by Fay Carter. It is staffed by a Nursing Supervisor who overseas nursing and personal care staff. An Activities worker, as well as Day Care staff, provide programs of interest to residents and offer regular outings.
ACES currently supervises some student placements and is assisted by volunteers in the areas of management planning, funding submissions and development of new services.
However ACES is seeking to build the pool of volunteers able and interested to work directly with residents. This sort of work could include organising outings, physiotherapy, socialising with residents at ACES (eg playing cards, walks), creating a video library and organising entertainment such as sing-alongs and concerts. If anyone would be willing to volunteer as a volunteer coordinator, that would be a great help. In addition, volunteers with practical skills relating to maintenance of the building and gardens, or skills in planning in this area are also needed.
This is a wonderful opportunity to make a personal connection with Elders and community members and contribute meaningfully to their quality of life within ACES.
If you are interested or have any questions, please contact Penny Wagstaff, the Nursing Supervisor.
ACES, 5 Parkview Ave, East Brunswick 3057
Phone: 9383 4244, Fax: 9384 1532
Fire First is a new radio program on Indigenous issues. Broadcast on 3CR, Fire First is presented by Clare Land and Robbie Thorpe. The program provides a historically informed, critical analysis of Aboriginal affairs and the ongoing (from invasion to the present) political movement for land rights, treaty, sovereignty and the cessation of genocide.
The program is unique for 3CR in that it is jointly driven by Indigenous and non-Indigenous presenters. In a joint statement Robbie and Clare suggest this aspect is “important both for developing a vision of reconciliation and a shared understanding of history between the presenters and the audience, as well as enacting an on-air working relationship which points to a shared future for Australia more generally.”
Fire First is independent. By way of background, Clare Land works at ANTaR, and presented the 3CR Breakfast Show on Tuesdays for 18 months. Robbie Thorpe directs Aboriginal Genocide Litigation Resources ( is on the board of Reconciliation Victoria and has presented on 3ZZZ and 3CR on and off since the 1970s.
Fire First is broadcast on 3CR, 855AM from 10:30-11am Friday mornings.
New Poem by Dennis Fisher
Dennis Fisher is a proud Aboriginal man, a prominent member of PPCfR, a writer and sculptor and presenter of a radio program on 3KND! Find out more about Dennis and read some of his poems on http://www.rmit.edu.au/departments/xs/saas/koori/students_den.html
Here is a new poem by Dennis
Aboriginal, first people of land
Blackfella and Whitefella
Original people of country
Relationship, building relationships
In with us or not
Great country for us all
Important for us all
Nationalities, culture, language and religion
Always Aboriginal land
Learning about each other going forward
Den The Fish© 2004
Atsic Media Release re Yorta Yorta Land Deal – May 18th 2004
ATSIC Commissioner for Victoria, Troy Austin, has congratulated the Yorta Yorta people on their in-principle agreement with the Victorian Government but once again called on the Government to deliver an Indigenous land justice agreement that covers the whole state.
Under the agreement announced earlier this month, the Yorta Yorta will jointly manage their traditional lands and waters, including the Barmah State Park, Barmah State Forest, Kow Swamp and some public land along the Murray and Goulburn Rivers.
"I also congratulate the Bracks Government, and in particular Attorney-General Rob Hulls, for its historic agreement with the Yorta Yorta people.
"Finally, a state government has had the courage to go outside the restrictive Native Title Act to recognise the traditional owners of an area and give them a say over the management of their lands," Mr Austin said. "I agree with Mr Hulls that delivering justice to Indigenous Victorians is at the core of reconciliation. The Yorta Yorta agreement is an important step in the process. "However, the Yorta Yorta are just one of the claimant groups in Victoria with land justice needs and the onus is now on the State Government to deliver similar agreements across Victoria. It is worth noting that Victoria's Indigenous population has the smallest land base in Australia only 0.07 per cent of the total Victorian land estate is owned or managed by Aboriginal people. "I believe it's crucial that the Government now revisits a proposal that ATSIC Victoria provided in September 2002. That document, produced after extensive community consultations, was a draft native title framework which proposed a statewide agreement to meet the land justice aspirations of Indigenous Victorians.
"Such an agreement could cover our social and cultural needs, it could provide the basis for our economic development, and it could ensure a consistent approach to land management is undertaken across the state.
PPCfR Writing Competition
The winning entries in the prose section of the writing competition last year are too long to include in Mungo. Of course, you can still obtain copies of the book of winning entries (The Land) at PPCfR stalls.
Continuing our occasional series of prize winning poems from the 2003 writing competition, this month we include the second prize winner in the open poetry section – Woiworung Seasons - by Carolyn Jeffrey.
At the Rainforest Gallery in the Melbourne Museum I discovered that the Woiworung Aborigines of the Upper Yarra Valley measure the year into seven seasons, based on their observations of the land.
Time for eels to gleam black and slip through shine of water,
the flowering buds of manna gum burst white,
sunshine and moonlight spend equal time
and the guiding star is south at sunrise.
Short days for lyrebirds to preen on leafy mounds,
to dance in a courtship of spreading feathers,
the nights are long with wombat shuffling,
the days are damp with rain and frost covers swift emu tracks.
Season for orchids to bloom like hidden gems, the silver wattles glow with gold and tree ferns flick new fronds,
young koalas search for mates and fill the night with bellowing,
long strips of bark peel from trunks of mountain ash
and the grey forest flashes with emerald green rosellas.
When tadpoles dart from drifting eggs
and the ground is warming in the sun,
the flax lily flowers in star shaped purple blue
and pied currawongs call across valleys of rain.
Grass flowering time for seeds to soften in the quiet rain,
the warm days bring drifts of brown butterflies
and the clacking chorus of bat wings,
the kangaroo grass blooms from stiff strap leaves
and the star of the hunter is west at evening.
Long changing days of thunder clouds, black cockatoos bring rain, goannas grip to trunks and wedge-tailed eagles soar to regal nests, the kangaroo apples hang in pale purple clusters and green nuts of cherry ballart sprout on fleshy stalks.
When kookaburras crack the dawn, the parched days of drought, now the waving tussock grass is high, hot winds sear the leaves with the fiery smell of smoke and the five star cross is high in the south.
Steve Pennell’s Diary
Co chair Reconciliation Australia Fred Chaney unwilling to maintain a reconciliation body where he lives in the biggest state, where there are Aborigines. Reconciliation supports cultural diversity we see difference. For a people whose life expectancy declined in last census, dying twenty years younger than non-Aboriginal. Peoples’ culture ongoing for at least 40,000 years of healthy sustainability willingly attacked for: power, money, salinity, deforestation, extinctions of language, fauna and ongoing ill health. Assimilation to these would need religious fundamentalism, the hereafters ongoing health, justifying sacrificing the here and now face to face cooperation. We may truly believe we see the rainbow and other people.
PPCfR Membership Fees
At a recent meeting, the treasurer's report was discussed. It appears that a large number of members have not paid their 2003/2004 membership renewal fee. If you are unsure whether you have paid this fee ($10, $5.00 concession), please phone or email Graeme Mulvey (9646.3326 or ) who has a list of paid up members.
Notices for 2004/2005 subscription renewals will be distributed in the July issue of Mungo.
City of Port Phillip Mayor, Councillor Dick Goss with Doris Pilkington at the Sorry Day event