A thud at the living room window drew my attention from my book. Not three feet from my head, the impact had left a smear, and there on the table where it had landed after rebounding was a small bird lying on its side. A closer look revealed a long Kingfisher beak, brown feathers tinged with blue, a white collar and a white chest that appeared to be moving. Behind it, an Indian Myna hopped around curiously.
Insight ran an excellent series of interviews with young Aborigines living in Alice Springs last night. The kids opened up and talked about their fights, their drinking, their family problems and their hopes for a better future.
If I have one regret about my book Dragon Bones, it’s that the stories of the Bhutanese people are told in my words, not theirs. It’s now my dream to collect the stories of Aborigines, immigrants and other minority groups in Australia and publish them […]
Have you ever heard a politician praise the previous government? Adam Giles, NT Transport Minister, gave full credit to his predecessor for ‘the best program the territory government has ever run‘ and vowed to continue it. The program? DriveSafe NT Remote is helping indigenous Australians to get driving licenses. In the Northern Territory, it’s impossible for most people to get around without driving, but few Aborigines have the papers necessary to apply for a driving license, so they […]
Not everyone understands the Australian sense of humour. Sometimes it’s even beyond Australians. Some of my countrymen have complained about the Prime Minister’s recent video declaring that the end of the world is nigh. In one case, a mother of a young autistic man has had to convince her son that the Mayan calendar can’t influence the physical world and the seemingly authoritative video didn’t help. Aside from a few such cases, most Australians love the fact that […]
Last month, the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence launched its own social networking site. The officially named Community of Excellence is known as Black Fella Facebook by its users. Targeted exclusively at young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the site allows youths to share their goals and aspirations and to indicate their support for each other’s posts using a ‘Respect’ button. I really like that the inspiration came from the community and that the Aboriginal youth were consulted in the design process. Who else […]
A Japanese exchange student, who joined my school in year 10, kept up with classes by translating unfamiliar words in her electronic translation dictionary. When I saw the same gadget on my first exchange to Japan, I would have bought it if I’d had the money. By the time I went back two years later, you could buy a similar device with multiple dictionaries, and even a calculator, loaded on removable cards. I spent the whole year fighting the urge to buy one.
I was standing in the kitchen of our other Sydney office yesterday, when in came a woman with Downs Syndrome pushing a vacuum cleaner. My boss, who was showing me the facilities, introduced her as Claire and told me that she was the real boss of the site. While we chatted with her, Claire opened the dishwasher to a gush of steam (she had obviously arrived knowing that it would have just finished the cycle) and began stacking away the cups, cutlery and […]
I rarely go to the butcher these days – I’m guilty of succumbing to the convenience of supermarkets – but last week I wanted to get some quality meat for a hot breakfast. The old lady next to me at the counter was complaining to the butcher that she’d bet on Queensland in the State of Origin, but that NSW had won the match. He commiserated, but quickly responded that he had another tip for her – a horse that had just landed in the country. It struck me as a very Australian […]
I must applaud the NSW government’s new moves to improve education for Aborigines. The biggest mistake the federal government made in the NT Intervention was not consulting Aboriginal elders regarding their plans. Perhaps having learnt from past mistakes, the federal government apparently created the Indigenous Action Plan (probable parent of this NSW effort) following ‘extensive consultation with indigenous leaders.’ While these leaders are unlikely to predict every eventuality of the program in […]
In 2009 I set myself 4 goals as steps towards a future of providing assistance on locally driven aid projects in developing countries. In their original form, those goals were:
- Publish a book on Bhutanese culture
- Complete a Masters in anthropology
- Buy a studio flat in Australia
- Invest the rest of my savings to create a modest passive income
I imagined a life as I’d had in Bhutan, where I kept myself entertained with a mix of my own projects and helping develop […]