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Oxfam International Youth Partnerships

Voice Newsletter

June 2008 Edition


Oxfam's International Youth Partnerships (OIYP) Voice is the

newsletter of OIYP Action Partners worldwide.

Also published at

Email us at:


Focus Letter from the Editor

Action Partner News Updates from Sudha

Kanikicharla, India; Karen Kaye Acal, the Philippines; Anau Apanui,
New Zealand / Aotearoa and Michael Birk, Australia.

Story of the Month Mapuche, the people

of life

by Gonzalo Garcés

June Features The Kastom Skul by
Aminio David, Vanuatu; Religion, Culture and Work in Rural Areas
by Merlinta Anggilia, Indonesia

Resources Information about

resources to help with your Action Partner work

Endnote An inspiring thought

to close with this month



Welcome to the June issue of Voice Newsletter!

This month we are pleased to share stories from OIYP about

strengthening culture and identity.

Do you know your customs?

How do you talk about your culture?

Many Action Partners are fighting to protect their cultural

traditions, and to allow culture to change over time. As a 2004
Action Partner once said “if a culture does not bend, it will break”.
But there is a fine line between cultural change and cultural

This month we are exploring what culture means to young people

in OIYP and how Action Partners are respecting tradition and
heritage and finding new ways through this to address social
inequalities and imagining new futures.

"[C]ulture is a way of fighting against extinction and obliteration”

Edward W. Said in Culture and Resistance: Conversations with

Edward W. Said

From Chile to Aoeteroa; from Vanuatu to Australia we bring you

stories of Action Partners who are using culture to resist processes
of homogenisation, defending their cultural rights and languages
and strengthening their families and communities for survival in
an increasingly globalised world.

In Mapuche - the people of Life Gonzalo Garcés outlines a history

of battling for self determination on Mapuche Territory against
those who do not understand their strong ties to the land and
seek to make profit from their traditional country.

Aminio David tells us about how they are working to reconnect

‘yangfellas’ in Vanuatu with customary practice and to avoid
dependence on Western practice. Generating pride in culture will
provide additional tools to defend customary land which are also
increasingly being privatised alienating people from means of
accessing what is essential to their cultures in the process.
Teaching about culture is not just important for protecting land
rights Aminio hopes to convey to his students that ‘Ancient

tradition and practices are the most valuable things in life’. Like
food, air and water custom knowledge is essential to survival.

Merlinta Anggilia tells us about struggling to create space to

imagine new cultures against the shocking backdrop of a society
affected by civil war and natural disaster. In this context, people
are clinging to religious practices which Merlinta describes as
misinterpretations of traditions.

July Issue – Contributions needed!

The July issue of Voice newsletter will focus on young people

working in the area of HIV and AIDS. If you are an Action Partner
working in this area we would love to hear from you. For more
information or to submit a story please email Mary at or email

Voice is the newsletter of OIYP Action Partners– you can share

your stories, challenges, ask for help, share resources - you can
even help edit an edition of Voice with Oxfam Staff. If you would
like to contribute to Voice Newsletter - Please send your story to
Mary at or email



Read about the work of Action Partners around the world.

Sudha Kanikicharla, 2007 Action Partner, India

Hello, I am Sudha, an Action Partner from India. I have been

chosen to be the featured activist on this website called
‘youthnoise’ which is actually a non-profit based in San Francisco
that works to help youth from around the world adopt and cause
and also helps them network..

This is the link to my interview:

Karen Kaye Acal, 2007 Action Partner, the Philippines

Hello, I've been very busy on the ground working for the basic
training on negotiation and mediation process to be conducted on
May 30-June 1. The training was designed for the Lupong
Tagapamayapa (appointed by the barangay captain to solve
disputes in the barangay level through the conduct of mediation).
They've been working for many years, our office, the Mediator's
Network for Sustainable Peace, Inc. (MedNet) with the partnership
of some People's Organizations (PO’s) and the government,
decided to help them by giving the essential trainings especially
to those who are newly appointed by the barangay captain.

Prior to this training, we also facilitated trainings and seminars in

Quezon City and in some remote areas of the Philippines
(Dumagat Indigenous Peoples in Montalban, Rizal). We encounter
some difficulties in giving trainings because there are low literacy
rates, so the modern technologies are not appropriate to use in
the training. We had to improve our creativity in making visual
aids that will fit to them and with relation to their way of living
which is mainly in agriculture.

The transportation to these remote areas like in Montalban is

really amazing yet very tiring! We had to walk for 8 hours from the
bottom and had to pass 8 or 9 mountains just to be there! On our

way up (that was my first time), the 8 hours walk became 24
hours because we went to the wrong direction. My, God, we're
lost! However, that trip was really amazing! It's good to be at the
top seeing the civilization from afar!

Looking at the people there, they don't have money. To obtain

money, they have to carry at least 5 sacks of their products (cut
trees, charcoal, or whatever) and trade it in the town. They live
simple... they also work hard... they don't have cars, big houses or
condominiums... they don't have aircons....they don't even have
lights (they just light candles or what we called here 'gasera' to
light their way and their houses at night.) They just eat what they
can have in their lands, boiled potatoes or 'kamote'.... money can
buy many things that will flatter most people.... but money can't
buy happiness. Through these trainings I've attended and
facilitated, I realized that it feels so good to do things not for
yourself but to others... to live not on your own, but to share it to
everybody. Also I realized that us in our office (MedNet), are trying
to help people to gain peace and to settle their disputes. We were
trying to solve conflicts but most of the time we can't settle the
conflict that lies within ourselves

Anau Apanui, 2007 Action Partner, New Zealand / Aotearoa

Kiaora kia tātou katoa/ Greeting to us all, First and foremost I will
like to acknowledge the creator of all things, whom who has
provided us with life. Secondly, to the ancestors who have now
passed, and who made a positive change for our people which has
contributed to our cultures, enabling us to exist today, who paved
the way for us and the following generations to build upon and

Greetings to us all, the Oxfam International Youth Partnership, who

venture to do right by our people. I will begin by acknowledging
the heartfelt voices presented in the March 2008 edition. The
voice of Africa, who shared fundamental values such as peace and

hospitality and the importance of thinking practically “practice
based on cultural values” in which I strongly support. To our
friends in Vanuatu who shared with us a range of programmes
that provide their youth with valuable tools that will assist them in
today’s world. The voices of Australia, who shared their
experience of an important day, the 13th of February 2008.
‘Sorry’ a word that devoted many thoughts and hearts to the lost
generation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people, I will like to
acknowledge all these magnificent life stories and experiences.

For a long time beneficiaries of Whakatohea (population approx:

4000) have experienced social and economic disparity
contributing to poor health and dysfunctional families. My tribe
(Whakatohea) has developed a plan to address social
development, capacity and capability, workforce development,
fragmentation of services.

Our people believe that in order to address collective health and

well-being for Maori in our tribe, as a tribe we need to grow and
develop from small beginnings. A small beginning for my people
begins at a family level. I am currently involved with my
Marae/community based home that belongs to our families who
are all connected to our sub-tribe namely Ngāti Ira/ Descendants
of Ira (population approx: 900). We are working on a wellness day
for our sub-tribe where agencies/organisations are able to attend
our community based home and promote aspects of well-being,
for example: Housing New Zealand Corporation (Government
Agency) who has granted my sub-tribe with funding under a
community development project to upgrade our sewage system. A
Home Interactive Programme for Parents and Youngsters is a
group who aims to educate parents within the community
regarding parent skills and programmes for youngsters. Our
families today continue to face challenges in their everyday lives,
as a sub-tribe we are aiming to work together on educating all our
families that are connected to Ngāti Ira in relation to the issues
that we face, and how we can access available services to meet
the needs of our families.

I also work for our tribal provider, Whakatōhea Iwi/Tribal Social

and Health Services, our services work at a tribal level, providing

services such as social services, adult and youth mental health
case workers, health promotion and housing services to our
community. There is a need for business and workforce
development to assist in combating the diverse issues that impact
on our community particularly Māori who are over represented in
national statistics. Such development needs to be implemented in
a manner where our tribal values are not compromised. Moreover
Māori need to participate at all levels of health, in terms of micro,
meso, and macro to ensure that Māori philosophies are recognised
for the well-being of our people at regional and national levels.
Currently Māori are under-represented in all areas. In conclusion
the journey continues for our families, sub-tribes, and tribes in
working together for our Māori people and our culture.

Michael Birk, 2007 Action Partner, Australia.

I have been in a release funded by my local council.

Called Hear our Voices, by the community youth. Basically it was a
song about the human rights that we demand here in Australia
and it featured many different youths, including myself
representing the Indigenous community as well as many youth
from the large Tibetan community in my area.

Check it out!! It’s on my myspace



Mapuche, the people of life

By Gonzalo Garcés 2007 Action Partner, Chile

Here we explore the lives of the Mapuche people and their, often
challenging and rocky, relationship with the state and big
businesses. Gonzalo Garcés writes about the hardships the

Mapuche people faced, in particular from the Chilean government
“social integration policies” which is aimed at destroying their
unique indigenous customs. Despite international condemnation,
the Chilean government continues to detain Mapuche political
prisoners and thereby placing the interest of big businesses over
the community

The Mapuche, are a people originally from the south of Latin

America, whose name means "people or persons of the earth",
and their worldview is one that involves intimate connections to
the natural environment.

The knowledge the Mapuche culture and society possess is said to

have been given by "Mapu Ñuke", or Mother Nature. This
knowledge is transmitted through conversation in those sacred
places of the natural world built to support the Mapuche links to
the earth and to family.

Every part of the natural world, including human beings and the
dead, possess a spirit. Amongst them there are caring and guiding
spirits of nature. For example, stones and serpents have an
important role in the Mapuche way of life. Even now, the Mapuche
ask permission to pass through certain places that are considered
sacred. On such occasions, the Mapuche people take time to
appreciate these places and ask for the protection of the earth
and their families, as part of their attempts to overcome the
unfortunate realities for their people.

The history of the Mapuche people is a history full of battles in

defence of the earth. These battles have continued for more than
500 years, since the attempted takeover of the area by the Inka
and the Spanish people, and later the battles continued against
the genocide attempts of Chilean and Argentinian governments at
the end of the 19th Century. These attempts have not ceased in
Chile and Argentina's added efforts to transform their cultures into
spitting images of Western society. Big business has also appeared
on the scene. These businesses have claimed – and continue to
claim – to those same governments that Mapuche land should be

used for the development of economic projects such as single-
crop forestation, without planning nor providing for the harmful
effects on both human and environmental health.

However, historically a system of private property did not exist on

"Mapuche territory". There weren't any electric fences nor were
there extensive plantations of single-crop forestation like that
which exists today, but instead the people were free to roam.
They could take freely whatever was needed for the continued
sustenance of Mapu Ñuke.

The sacred places, such as the paliwe and the nguillatuwe, are
spaces where the Mapuche pray, give thanks, and share with the
spirits their desire to see them respected and to see the Mapuche
culture survive.

The Chilean government has, throughout history, pushed through

"social integration policies", which have attempted to destroy the
unique customs of the Mapuche people, and in this way the
Mapuche social organisation has been twisted and modified,
through the imposition of unknown and destructive social models.
These politicians, who are not part of the Mapuche culture or way
of life, do not understand or value the traditional lifestyles of the
Mapuche people, instead imposing new lifestyles upon them.

This is but a brief snapshot of the relationship the Mapuche people

have with the state and big business. Furthermore there currently
exists a situation which is worrying: the hunger strike which has
recently reached 42 days. The strikers are our Mapuche peñi
(brothers) and lamgnen (sister). They are striking for: the freedom
of all Mapuche political prisoners throughout various Chilean jails;
demilitarisation and an end to the oppression of various roaming
Mapuche communities so that they can exercise their political and
territorial rights; and an end to the political-judicial conspiracies
against Mapuche organisers and leaders.

To speak of Mapuche political prisoners, and to speak of their

ethnic, political, and territorial demands, has been criminalised by

the Chilean government, placing the interests of big business over
and above those of the Mapuche communities involved. Because
of these events, Chile has received international condemnation
and many recommendations to end the criminalization of the
Mapuche people. One such recommendation came from the UN's
Rodolfo Stavenhagen.

Mapuche men and women are not the violent people they are
made out to be by the government through their utilisation of the
media. The continued struggle of our Mapuche brothers and
sisters tells us that they are not ready to renounce that which is
most precious and beautiful to them: the earth, la mapu.

You can find more information on how to support the Mapuche

cause at:



The Kastom Skul

By Aminio David, 2007 Action Partner Vanuatu

Aminio David is excited about preserving the Vanuatu culture in

the younger generation with the creation of the Kastom School -
the first school to teach long, lost customary practices. This school
will encourage the youth to embrace the traditional Vanuatu
customs rather than be dependent on the Western culture.

Ancient tradition and practices are the most valuable things in life,
yes that we all know about.

Let me begin with what we the Vanuatu Young People Project have
finally got hold of, a few weeks ago we had our official opening
and first intake for the Kastom school, students attending our very
own, first ever established School of Customs in my country.
Although many people in Vanuatu do not really see the
importance of having a Custom school in place, I tell you, this is
one hell of a step that we have taken in order to achieve what has
always been there, but not recognised. The Kastom School was
partly funded by the NZAID and the OXFAM Australia, a big very
thank you from the Vanuatu ‘yangfella’s’ to you, two generous
organisations. Custom in Vanuatu is interpreted and described in a
more heavy way, to know about your very own custom is similar
to knowing your identity, and the real directions for living a life
without money, with a big smile still on your face in what ever

In this Kastom School, we teach young people to learn how to

revive our long lost customary practices that are essential to our
daily lives, encourage young people to not be dependant on the
western culture for survival and to treasure and embrace the ways
that our Ancestors use like food preservation, carving, weaving,
planting seasons and many more. Within these activities, there
are 2 weeks of class discussions followed by one week of practical

The Kastom School came into existence after we conducted

research in urban areas in our little city, Port Vila. The main
question we asked to all our unemployed and uneducated young
blokes was: “Do you know your KASTOM? We were amazed at our
findings; a lot of young people grew up with their customs but lost
knowledge as they moved in to urbanized areas and adopted the
Western Culture which is money. We, the people from Vanuatu, are
new to this western culture and it has had a very big impact on
our daily lives where in which if we had never thought of
recommending a Kastom school, we a nation as a whole, would be
the very first to follow that path to marginalisation.

Our country is known for its wealth of beauty and its enriched land

along with countless waterfalls and volcanoes. Our problem is only
that, we the young people of Vanuatu, never thought that the
Western culture is like a prison, once you are in you never see the
daylight again, you could end up forgetting how to smile, which is
one of our most valuable traditions. I am not really sure how I can
explain how I feel right know, but, I am proud to say that I as an
Action Partner feel really honoured to be a Facilitator for this first
ever Custom school, my classes commence on Monday.

I think a lot of my friends out there need to come up with

something quickly, that is if they think they still have the chances.
Westernisation is out there, trying to change our peaceful ways,
but it has no sweetness compared to what God placed at the very
beginning of life itself.

Last but not the least I thank you all Action Partners for your
ongoing support via email, phone calls, and mails, and remind us
to “get this changes going.”

Long live the Vanuatu Custom. Long live our work to pave the

If you want to know more just simply give me a call or email

Religion, Culture and Work in Rural Areas

By Merlinta Anggilia, 2007 Action Partner, Indonesia

Continuing with the focus on culture, Merlinta Anggilia writes

about her personal connection to help those affected by the
Tsunami in Aceh. Read more about her resolve to continue her

volunteer work and ensure that all elements of the community
work well together to achieve a common goal.

Two years were spent in some rural areas in Aceh. Aceh is one of
Indonesian province placed in western coast. Only few people
know Aceh several years ago but when Tsunami occurred in Aceh
every eyes were looking at it.

A brief story related Aceh; Aceh was trapped in long conflict for
more than 30 years between Government of Indonesia (GoI) and
Aceh Freedom Movement (GAM). Aceh has amazing natural
resources but unfortunately it has limit human resources who can
develop it. During the conflict, there were lots of school and public
infrastructures were burned by unknown people, and the situation
became worse when Tsunami hit Aceh. A hundred thousand
people died in the space of a few seconds, and it was the first
time Aceh became popular in international eyes. Not only myself
who lost all my families but also other Acehnese, but it was not
time for giving up to the destiny.

I decided to work as volunteer and interpreter one week after

Tsunami with doctors and journalist. My work was a bit complex
when we had to work in rural areas where community put the
perception of religion and culture in different way as it should be.
Sometimes culture can be more powerful than religion obligation,
the community and religious leaders are the persons in charge to
role the life. I worked with a France NGO who were providing
entertainment to orphans of Tsunami and conflict by using media
such as dolls, UNO cards, scrabble and so on. Definitely, it was
weird in such rural areas to know those things especially dolls,
because in their opinion it is against religion’s obligation because
kids are forbidden to play with dolls. In my opinion it was totally
wrong because they misinterpreted in that context.

There was a case in one of our children centre when one of Imam
(religious leader in village) complains to us due to those games.
He stated that those things are prohibited in religion and brought
bad impact for kids. Honestly, our objectives were aimed only for

good and for entertaining the kids who experience trauma and
depression. But, as we know sometimes what we are thinking is
good for others does not mean same as what others are thinking.
It becomes a homework for us as social worker on how to solve
this issue, we have to be brave to stick our ideas in proper way,
convince all community figures that we are doing good projects
for any elements in the community, and the last point we must
keep the relationship with them and try to settle up all
misunderstanding which will occur in the next time. For me, as
long as I am doing good in proper way so I will do my best to stick
with the ideas, always try to be open with anyone who can give
advice if I am doing something wrong. As long as we try to do
everything sincerely so all troubles gonna be solve easily. Where
there is a will, there a way.



Upcoming events and interesting stuff

OIYP Announcements:

OIYP Grants Program - Grants Kits are now ready to be sent out!

OIYP Grants Program funds OIYP Action Partners to start new

projects and develop knowledge. We know that it is often hard to
get started with project work- so here is an opportunity to put
your ideas for working with your community using local resources
into action.

The Grants Program has three funding streams:

* Action Support –for Action Partners to start up a project to

achieve sustainable and positive change in their communities.

* Action Partner Exchanges – these are collaborative

learning exchanges between Action Partners. You can organise
with another Action Partner (or a group of Action Partners) to
travel to their community to grow your understandings about
work, culture and how social change can happen.

* Learning Support- for Action Partners to participate in a

course or program you would not otherwise have access to. It
aims to help Action Partners develop knowledge and skills to
support your work for social change.

There will be 2 rounds of the OIYP Grants Program. Approximately

60 Action Partners will receive funding of up to $5000AUD.

Deadline for Applications:

Round 1: 31st August 2008

Round 2: 31st January 2009

For more information or to receive an application kit please email

Attending and/or Presenting at the International AIDS Conference?

Oxfam would like to hear from all Action Partners (past and
present) who are attending the International AIDS Conference in
Mexico in August this year. Please let Ramy Nasr know if you will
be attending: ramynasr[at]

We would also like to hear from any Action Partners who may be
presenting at the conference. If you are presenting a paper,
workshop, poster, Global Village or cultural presentation at the
conference, please email Ramy Nasr at ramynasr[at]

This information will be circulated amongst Oxfam and OIYP

representatives so that we are aware of each other’s
presentations and can support them.

OIYP Booth in the Global Village at the International AIDS


OIYP will be running a booth at the International AIDS Conference

2008, in the Global Village, an area for the public and stakeholders
to network and learn. This booth will showcase the different
approaches 2007 OIYP Action Partners are using to counter HIV
and AIDS.

If you are a 2007 OIYP Action Partner working on HIV and AIDS we
need your help to make this booth relevant and reflective of
practices that young people are employing to fight HIV and AIDS

Here’s what you can do:

- Send us your answers to the following questions:

o How are you currently working on HIV and AIDS?

o If you could do anything to combat HIV and AIDS, how

would you do it?

- Send us any pictures/video footage/other that demonstrate
your work in your community.

- Log on to the OIYP HIV and AIDS on-line forum to contribute other ideas.

Please send your contributions to Amy at or

contact her for details about logging on to the forum.

Pacific Action Partners

Oxfam Australia is interested in hearing stories from young people

in the Pacific about what is working well in your communities in
health and education. These stories will help identify development
strategies that are working well, could be shared with other
communities and could help to influence Government policies and

If you have an example of something that is working well we

would love to hear about it. In your story, please answer the
following questions:

- What is working well?

- Why does it work well?

- Do you think it would work well in another community?

Why/Why not?

You could also ask these questions to members of your

community. Identify three people from your community who
represent different voices and include their answers in your story.

Please send your stories by 25th July 2008 to Amy Berson, OIYP

Learning and Development Coordinator,
Amy will also be available to help you think about and write your
story – please contact her anytime!

Other opportunities:

Indian Youth Summit on Climate Change - 7th to 10th August,

2008 Hyderabad

Organized by the Friendship Foundation (Hyderabad), Global

Citizens for Sustainable Development (Bangalore), Nature &
Biological Sciences Society and the Indian Youth Climate Network.
Please email all queries and registration forms to AND/OR

Alternatively call Vikram Aditya on +91-9396618878, Rabindra

Biswas on +91-9985708762 or Anugraha John on +91-

African Youth Peace Conference - African Youth for Peace and


The 3rd African Youth Peace Conference AYPC to commemorate

the UN – World Peace Day ealier scheduled for Cairo - Egypt has
now been rescheduled to be held in (Port Harcourt – Rivers State)
Nigeria on September 21 – 24, 2008, with the theme : 'African
Youth for Peace and Development.

Deadline for applications : June 30, 2008.

For more information and an application form , email :

All Around You All Around You is a platform that will enable
communities from the Asia-Pacific to tell their own stories from
their own perspective. It will give them the capacity to do this for
a long term period, to an interested audience. Over a period of
three years, we make four site visits to a particular community. In
these visits we facilitate the development of a series of
community-owned creative works, including one major work such
as a feature film, theatre performance or video game. Uniquely,
we train one young person from the community with the skills to
co-direct the development of the major work with us, as a paid

This young person keeps developing local media for the portal, long after CuriousWorks has left the
region. We provide that person and other interested members of
the wider community with ongoing access to local resources and a
year-long mentorship with local community and arts centres. .

We’re especially interested in communities living at the top and

bottom ends of Australia and links to cultural programs between
these places and our neighbours in the Pacific, South-East Asia
and even the Antarctic. If you have a proposal on who we could
work with in these areas of the country, we’d love to hear from
you. Email

More information:

VOCAL caravan through Oaxaca

An extraordinary caravan with VOCAL- Voces Oaxaqueñas

Construyendo Autonomia y Libertad- and youth groups
represented in the Oaxacan Social Movement Youth Gathering

organized within and along side the APPO- La Asamblea Popular
de los Pueblos de Oaxaca.

***Before anything else, it is necessary to clarify that these

caravans are being organized with the simple fundamental
principals of walking while asking, and teaching by learning.***

On going coverage of the caravan can be found at:


NGO-in-a-box offers a set of peer reviewed and selected Free and

Open Source software (F/OSS), tailored to the needs of NGO's. It
provides them not only with software, but also with
implementation scenarios and relevant materials to support this.

Some elements also available in Portuguese.

For More Information:


Since 2003, has been helping local, national and

international non-profit organisations make better use of
information and communications technology in their work.
Specialising in the application of mobile technology, it provides a
wide range of ICT-related services drawing on over 22 years
experience of its founder, Ken Banks. Non-profits in over forty
countries have so far benefited from a range of kiwanja initiatives,
including FrontlineSMS and nGOmobile.

For more information:

Visualizing Information for Advocacy

Visualizing Information for Advocacy: An Introduction to

Information Design is a booklet written and designed to introduce
advocacy organizations to basic principles and techniques of
information design. It’s full of examples of interesting design from
groups around the world in a variety of media and forms. It has
tips, excercises, and even recommended Free Software packages
to help polish up your graphics. The booklet is Creative Commons

For more information:

Human Rights and Arts Film Festival – seeking submissions

Emerging and established filmmakers with a passion for human

rights are being invited to make short films addressing the human
impacts of climate change.

The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival and the Make Poverty
History coalition have joined forces to launch the Reel Change
climate change short film competition, which is seeking powerful
and innovative films from throughout Australia and the world.

The best films will screen as part of the Human Rights Arts and
Film Festival (HRAFF) in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Canberra,
throughout November and December.

The Reel Change climate change short film competition’s

submission deadline is Friday, 15 August. For all other human
rights-related films, submissions close on Monday 14 July.

For submission details, and more information about the festival,

go to



A closing thought to inspire you this month.

Lluwanee George, 2007 Action Partner, Australia

Slam poetry is like freestyle hiphop crossed with poetry and free
expression. If you’ve heard of Def Jam Poetry then you’ve heard of
slam poetry.

Basically I wrote this because after OIYP you go back to your

community (with the best intentions) and you try and make a
difference or try to get involved and there is always a million
things/issues/people etc trying to hold you back or pull you down.
It’s like you always have to explain yourself to get your message
across but sometimes its feels like you’re just saying the same
thing over and over and no one is really listening. So my way of
dealing with this is to write slam poetry.

I think it’s a great way to really open your mind and to think about
what is going on around you.

What I’m talking about

This is what I am talking about...

I’m talking about the rights of my people to practice their culture

so that my generation and generations to come will have that

knowledge and cultural pride to keep us going til the end of time.
That's what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about how my people only make up 2 per cent of the
total population of this country yet over 50 per cent of my young
people make up the juvenile justice system on any given day. How
is that that these young people are incarcerated at such a high
rate so when they get out their chances of being locked up for
good just doubles, its like they are set up to fail. That's what I’m
talking about.

I’m talking about giving my young people the opportunity to learn

and know their culture and identity, That they will not feel
ashamed or not be afraid to say Yes I am Indigenous and I am
proud to be Indigenous. That's what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about giving young people the absolute right to feel
safe and secure, that they have stability within their lives, families
and communities. Don't tell us to go get an education or a job
when a large proportion of young people don’t even have a roof
over their heads or food to eat. F&*k your western ideological
concepts and philosophies, why would you want to go to school or
study if you don't have the basic human rights of having food or
shelter. That's what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the s**t that the media portray as my people
being, nothing but drunks, druggies and dole bludgers. Obviously
you haven't hung around blackfellas cause for every fallen fella
there is more then one willing to fight for his fella souljah or
sissouljah. That's what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about watching my nieces and nephews grow up to be

the most successful, influential and proud role models for both
Indigenous and non Indigenous young people. For never allowing
anyone to say that they can’t but yes you did. For I love my little
nieces and nephews so much that my heart will die the day that

one of them becomes one of those juvenile statistics. That's what
I’m talking about.

I’m talking my sissouljahs who on a daily basis are up there in the

world of achievements. For not backing down when times are
tough and for being the backbone and the rock of the family when
the rest of the world wants to break her. I’m talking about her
resilience to the s**t that society throws at her, dissing her
brothers, taking her children, criticising her mental, physical and
intellectual capacity. Never will you break her. She is and always
will be the ROCK, the queen, THE BOSS. That's what I’m talking

I’m talking about everyone else who has read this slam poetry and
said yes that is true, and yes I’m going to make a difference. To all
the people on a daily basis who have to explain and fight for their
story to be heard or told, strength in numbers my friend. You tell
your story and I’ll tell mine and together will make change. That's
what I’m talking about.