Integral to both the debates around the National Referendum on Voice and to Treaty in Queensland is the imperative to engage in Truth Telling. By any measuring rod a daunting, challenging, confronting but nevertheless utterly essential task if Australia and Queensland are to move forward with a sense of generosity and decency about our real past. Given the massive nature of the undertaking, ANTaR Qld has decided to attempt something both doable and meaningful at an individual and locational level. Accordingly we have decided to spend this year simply exploring and chatting about the histories and stories of where each of us live. In short, a more personal and locational way to engage the bigger questions before us.
To begin with I’d like to share this poem from a Congregation of the Storytellers at a funeral of Soweto children:
We have entered the night to tell our tale,
To listen to those who have not spoken
We, who have seen our children die in the morning,
Deserve to be listened to.
We have looked on blankly as they opened their wounds.
Nothing really matters except the grief of our children.
Their tears must be revered,
Their inner silence speaks louder than the spoken word;
And all being and all life shouts out in rage.
We must not be rushed to our truths. Whatever we failed to say is stored secretly in our minds;
And all those processions of embittered crowds,
Have seen us lead them a thousand times.
We can hear the story over and over again,
Our minds are numbed beyond the sadness,
We have received the power to command;
There is nothing more we can fear.
To assist we have asked Greg Manning and Darryl Bellingham to contribute some brief, thought provoking pieces. Greg may be known to many for his past engagement with us on bus trips around Brisbane looking at the history of various well-known sites. Darryl has a long history in engagement with social justice and is inspired by the way in which storytelling is bound in country, culture, and language.
Greg Manning – Mt Gravatt
Anyone residing in South East Queensland is familiar with the Mount Gravatt as both a suburb and a small hill. It was named Mount Gravatt after Lieutenant George Gravatt who was the commander of the Moreton Bay penal colony from May to July 1839. Click the links to find out more about Gravatt and wonder about what other names might exist.
Lieutenant George Gravatt spent just 3 months of his life within sight of this hill.
The 28th Regiment, including Gravatt and Cotton, were re-deployed in 1842 from Port Jackson to Bombay, and then to Scinde, where their regiment was ravaged by Cholera.
It is not our task to rush the Traditional Custodians of the various Sovereign Nations into disclosing their names for this or any other landform. In the meantime, we can know our own story. What we do know is that we have kept the redcoats on the hills.
Daryll Bellingham – Experiments in Truth Telling
Since 2000 I’ve been collating and publishing a chronological list of history information about the Aboriginal Curfew Boundaries in Colonial Brisbane called ‘The History of the Boundary Street Curfew’ at https://www.storytell.com.au/boundary.html
I have been assured that it is a useful resource for activists, other local historians and community members. The main beneficiary however is probably me. I have learnt so much about colonisation, the impacts on the local Aboriginal nations, racism, the curfew and how it was set up and policed, the different attitudes of white immigrants.
I see it as one sort of Truth Telling – ‘here are some facts; the Curfew did exist; this was said in Brisbane; etc’.
We could do with a lot more ‘non-judgemental truth telling’. Curfews and Curfew Boundaries existed all over Australia. Massacres did happen. Some immigrants did their best to reduce the effects of invasion on Aboriginal people.
Why not pick a local issue and publish your own record of the history? The N.L.A. Trove newspaper database makes local history easy. Encourage truth telling.
Need assistance or want to talk over an idea? Contact me us.
If anyone wants further information or is interested in working on Treaty and Truth Telling please contact us using the form below or call 0401 733 359
Let’s learn more about the history of the places where we live, work and play.