Thursday, June 23, 2011

Let the yarning begin, whats your deadly story?

The first week of July celebrates National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander week, when all Australian’s can celebrate our countries first people and their positive contributions to our culture past, present and future.
I always look forward to the announcement of the THEME and this year I am very excited by the power of it and the opportunity it provides.
“Change: the next step is ours” is the 2011 NAIDOC Theme
I hear so many people talking about what changes need to occur; to close the gap; to help make the change for this country and all of our mob. Government’s and bureaucrats are talking. Policy makers and politicians are talking. Shock jock DJ’s and bleeding heart hippies are talking. A lot of talking is being done but is it the type of talking that is going to facilitate the change?
In thinking about this, I thought, “if the next step is ours, what is it that we can bring to the table, what next step can we offer that is different, is truly ours? Then I read a blog by my mate Tom Hearn from Bush TV who asked the question ‘could the art of yarning be the secret?’
As a performer, and an opera singer I understand the power of the human voice. I also know that there is nothing more incredible than to be heard, to have your voice listened to, to have your words resonate in another, to express heartfelt emotion and be heard.
In the wider spectrum of human nature, whether from a baby’s cry or giggle to an elders wail or body shaking bellow in hysterics there is nothing more precious and unifying than the sharing of raw human emotion. 
Now lets think about the history of this country. Our ancestors couldn’t speak the Queen’s English; they had no way of yarning with the invading ‘settlers’. Families were torn apart and moved all around the country. Their languages were outlawed, their children taken away from them. Crippled by this and many other atrocities, generations were torn apart and so much culture was lost including our ability to yarn in our way, in our time and on our land to our own mob, let alone the ‘settler’s’.
Now I hear you thinking, “Wait up Don, Donnie, Donald. What are you suggesting here? You want me to start yarning with them bureaucrats, with them politicians, with them shock jock dj’s and bleeding heart hippies?
And my answer – If you have the opportunity – YES, do it!
What I really think each of us can do today and for the rest of our lives is start yarning amongst ourselves, with our friends and families. Taking the time to sit down and truly yarn and share positive things and simple truths to share our deadly stories. The Qld Government, Dept of Communities has launched a site and social media campaign around exactly this.
Think about it, who do our youngsters get to yarn with about success, positive choices, bouncing back from wrong choices, persistence, and honesty? I am sure many of us remember being told “People are always watching, expecting you to fail simply because you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.” 
I don’t want our kids to NOT fail, I want out kids to be successful in all areas of their lives. To do that, we need to be yarning about SUCCESS. We need to be sharing how we succeeded, how we battled and won, how we helped someone else to become a success.
So let the yarning begin and be the change you want to see for our community, our country, because Change - the next step is OURS!

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