Self-harm or State-inflicted-harm. What role does language play in the displacement of one and the other? Who gains from this?
In this revealing article, poet Janet Galbraith* tells of her own experiences and identifies wider causes and culprits.
A while ago I started writing an article about the notion of what is often called ‘self-harm’. I had felt saturated by this word and angry about the ways in which it is used to refer to a whole range of experiences. But I found it really hard to write. I wanted to research and come up with something that would articulate what I was feeling in a way that would be understood to have some gravitas. In the end, I did not finish it. But tonight, after speaking over the past days with people in detention who are in such dire situations that so-called ‘self-harm’ feels inevitable…
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I painted the room green
silky sage green
both days were hot
the paint dried too fast.
I placed Auntie Louise’s
Jaara Jaara country painting
against the long wall
Goden and grey cooling.
I sat at the window
pink laminex on its side
looked out to the vege garden
willow empty pond.
I smiled at a blue wren
picking at dried-out crab apples
cried as other birds fell gasping
from the sky.
Janet Galbraith, Κλιματική Αλλαγή
Έβαψα το δωμάτιο πράσινο
μεταξένιο σοφιστικέ πράσινο
δύο ημέρες έκανε ζέστη
η μπογιά στέγνωσε πολύ γρήγορα.
Τοποθέτησα της Θείας Λουίζας
τη ζωγραφιά της γης Jaara Jaara
απέναντι από τον μακρύ τοίχο
χρυσό και γκρι ησυχάζοντας.
Κάθισα στο παράθυρο
ροζ Laminex στα πλευρά του
κοίταξα έξω στον λαχανόκηπο
την ιτιά την άδεια λιμνούλα.
Χαμογέλασα σε έναν μπλε τρυποφράκτη
που μάζευε αποξηραμένα κομμάτια μήλου
κραυγάζοντας καθώς τα άλλα πουλιά εφόρμησαν λαχανιασμένα
από τον ουρανό.
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There has been something simmering for a while now that I want to expose, demolish and redirect – right here and right now. Today, I am enraged and I do not apologise for those who are about to be swept up as I deal here with some very seriously messed up attempts at practicing critical analysis of race/racism and ‘solidarity’ in Australia. How people, many of whom I have worked alongside, could have gotten this so wrong, is amazing to me.
Earlier this year, Celeste Liddle (an amazing Arrente woman) had an article on why she prefers to be called Black published here.
Celeste was then set upon by three women who questioned her on her views and wanted to talk about her “light-skin privilege.” Celeste explained multiple times that her piece was from the perspective of an Indigenous Australian and that she would never speak for or about non-Indigenous people of colour…
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The Elders report into Preventing Self-harm & Indigenous suicide. Indigenous youth suicide in Australia has now risen to become one of the highest in the world. In the Kimberley alone there is one attemped Indigenous suicide per week. The percentage of Indigenous suicide has increased from 5% of total suicide in 1991 to 50% in 2010. The most dramatic increase was in youth aged 10 – 24, where the percentage of Indigenous youth suicide increased from 10% in 1991 to 80% in 2010. The suicide incidence in relation to gender shows that 91 per cent of Indigenous suicides were male victims and 9% female victims from 2000–2005. The relationship changed in the 2006–2010 period, with 82% male and 18% female, with half the female suicides under the age of 17 years, an emerging trend. “Girls now account for a previously unheard of 40 per cent of all suicides of children under the age of 17 – an unprecedented rate in Northern Territory indigenous communities. The proportion of indigenous girls committing suicide in the Territory is now the highest in the Western world.” Dr Howard Bath, Children’s Commissioner for the Northern Territory, February 2012. Non-existent 20 years ago, it is now a social issue that is tearing communities and families apart across remote, regional and urban Aboriginal Australia. Survival of traditional cultural life in these Communities is now at crossroads, urgent action is needed. Government approaches to Aboriginal mental health are not working. Communities are calling out to be heard, and for community-led solutions to be supported. The Elders and Community leaders understand many of the causes behind the self harm and suicide phenomenon and are asking to lead in the healing process of their people. The Culture is Life campaign has been spearheaded by Indigenous Elders to create a solutions-based report (film, photography and written) on community perspectives for preventing, and ultimately ending, Indigenous youth suicide. 32 Elders from across Australia were chosen by their Communities to be involved in the report. The Elders healing solutions have been recorded and directly transcribed to build the report (there are no non-Indigenous voices within this report). Funds are now needed to design, print and distribute the report to all members of the State and Federal parliament as well as key stakeholders in the medical, academic and legal communities. The report features a foreword by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mr Mick Gooda and Introduction by Prof Pat Dudgeon, Co chair Aboriginal Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, Commissioner National Mental Health Commission. http://www.cultureislife.org – See more at: http://startsomegood.com/Venture/culture_is_life/Campaigns/Show/culture_is_life_elders_report#sthash.KUrFM9aq.dpuf