Great Southern Island: Caring for Country
A person’s perceptions of reality are constrained or limited by encult
uration in a particular societyor sub-group. In a society that operates on what Laughlin et al calls a fully polyphasicconsciousness, all experience is meaningful, regardless of the phase of consciousness (waking,dreaming, trance) during which it arises. In fact, reality, conceived as existing at multiple levels,may be verified by being experienced in different phases of consciousness. Many Westerners, on
the other hand, tend toward ‘monophasic consciousness’, viewing the normal waking
consciousness as the only phase appropriate to the accrual of information about self and world.
Some trained listeners have said that a well sung song that contained the correct structural pattern
enabled them to touch, reach out, feel and even smell the Ancestor’ as tho
ugh he or she were rightthere in front of them.
I didn’t originally
intend to write this chapter. Many non-indigenous artists, writers andacademics seem driven to prove a connection to indigenous Australians
some to the point of manufacturing an Aborig
inal lineage! Likewise, I’ve met some
‘New Agers’ whose profess
edinterest in Aboriginal culture was little more than an excuse
to ‘package’ aspects of
n particular, for the global ‘spirituality industry’.
Many Aboriginal people areunderstandably puzzled by a mainstream given to pogroms of outright racism at one minute and bizarre idealisations the next. Inevitably distrust and cynicism act as legitimate first linedefences.Having worked closely
with Central Victoria’s Aborigina
l community between 1999 and2003 it sometimes seemed most appropriate, as a non-indigenous person, to stay silent aboutKoori perspectives on life, society, the cosmos etc. and simply get on with the job of teachingunits and coordinating courses. In fact one of the most important lessons I learnt as coordinator o
f BRIT’s Koori unit concerned
knowing when to shut up, when to speak little but to the pointand when to advocate full-throttle. My Koori managers in the unit, firstly Barry Farey, and later,Peter Kildea, taught me much about this skill, and much else besides. As a non-indigenous person in a key
educational position for Central Victoria’s Koori
community I learnt a lot aboutthe day to day stresses experienced by some Koori people. I also learnt a lot about indigenousresilience, sense of community and resistance to systematised oppression.
I’m writing this chapter because the years coordinating
VET courses and teaching units tohundreds of
Central Victoria’s Koori
students changed me as a person. The experience alsochanged the way in which I experience Australia. The changes were gradual, subtle and permanent
. My experiences in BRIT’s Koori
unit re-politicised me in certain ways at the sametime as it highlighted to me the central importance of community and relationship to people.Barry Farey,
, was my main introduction to the Koori world-view. He is atall, warm-hearted and shrewd man who always has the best interest of his people at heart. Back in 1999 he had very little to say to me about Koori spirituality, preferring instead to talk to non-indigenous staff about the necessity of increasing opportunities for his people. Our job aseducators was clear: to assist students seeking an education so that they could eventually finddignified work and thus look after themselves and their families.
Give a young Koori guy a
Ancestral Power: The Dreaming, Consciousness and Aboriginal Australians
, p.4, MelbourneUniversity Press, 2002.
, p.94, Melbourne University Press, 2002.
Koori Liaison Officer