Djambawa Marawili

Lindsay Murdoch; 26/1/10; (3 Items)

Djambawa Marawili says many awards have been passed to him through ancestral beings and his grandfathers. ”I have now passed them on through the tools of my art to the young people I mentor,” he says. But Marawili, one of Australia’s most important indigenous artists, says being awarded a Member of the Order of Australia is important for his Yolngu people of Arnhem Land because it will help bridge the divide between their culture and that of the balanda (white person). Marawili, 56, received the award for service to the arts as a sculptor and painter, to the preservation of indigenous culture, to arts administration and as a mentor of emerging artists. He is worried the stories he tells through his art are fading as Western influences encroach on Yolngu culture. ”That’s why I see it as important for me to mentor the young generation who are living on their ancestral lands, away from the grog, drugs and violence in the bigger communities,” he said. ”It’s important to stand firm in passing on the stories and also to stand up for Yolngu.”

Australia made our dreams come true
Esosa Edmonds; 22/1/10
As a young child of about three, I used to wish I would sit on a dragonfly and be taken to a far away place up so high. But the mystique had only just begun as I reflect on this coming Australia Day with thanks to a remarkable country and the wisdom both my parents exercised in making this country their new home.For most people of coloured background it was trendy in the ’70s to settle in England, Europe, Canada or the US as loads of black people were already there. We weren’t refugees or fleeing from civil war or religious persecution but in search of greater prospects like millions before and after us.

Wrong-footed by rapid migration change
Andrew Markus; 23/1/10
Talk about racism in Australia is constant. From the ending of the White Australia policy, through increased Asian immigration, to the hysteria associated with Pauline Hanson, we have continually been forced to consider our attitudes. This is happening again following attacks on Indian students. In the aftermath of the 2005 Cronulla riots, then prime minister John Howard famously said: ”I do not accept that there is underlying racism in this country. I have always taken a more optimistic view of the character of the Australian people.” Assessment at the level of generality of “the Australian people” is largely meaningless. All populations harbour a range of personality types – from those who rejoice in cultural diversity to those who are comfortable only with what they perceive to be sameness. The Scanlon Foundation, which supports cultural diversity, funded national surveys in 2007 and 2009 to explore social cohesion in Australia, finding that about one in 10 Australian adults are intolerant.