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The Learning Cycle -

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(generated from captions) Hello, I'm Aden Ridgeway. Welcome to Message Stick. Award-winning producer Ivan Sen from around New South Wales, recently spent four days with men sharing in their life journeys, to their personal perspectives and listening Aboriginal men. on the issues confronting today's New Zealand and the United States, Joined by Indigenous men from Canada, delves deep into the psyche of men, the Learning Circle is a program that their own personal demons, who openly and honestly confront in contemporary Australian society. as well as the challenges of living

the idea for the conference MAN: Virtually, blokes who came to me, and said, came from, uh... a couple of young "Look, Unc, we need to get together

talk about the type of stuff and as men,

that's going on in our community. to become a talkfest, Do not just allow it and talk. where guys just come along... a bit more pro-active, We want to make it where each guy that attends and that we plan to have a process a very basic community action plan will be able to develop that we discussed. around all the issues

back into their communities, And they can go that community action plan. and then work on implementing Um, and that's the way it looks. lot of energy out there amongst men, The thing about it is that there's a harness that energy and we're trying to, um... in a much more positive way. And it's trying to work out in a 21st-century world? how do we better define our role historically and traditionally - Of course, what we did

roles have changed or many of them, for a variety of reasons, all those with men to say, so it's trying to get together

to be a man, an Aboriginal man, "Well, what does it mean century world that's been created?" an Indigenous man in the 20th What's our place in that? in all that? What's our responsibility that's what we're trying to do. So, essentially, embarrassed with the shame factor. MAN: There's... frankly, I'm piss that shame factor off. there's no doubt in my mind You know, because we... room can contribute to the outcomes that every single one of us in this of... of building a better pathway where we're heading, at the moment. to, um... This is how important it is. So we painted our lives. to while on by, You know, it's not just coming here from my workplaces. and spendin' a couple of days to our future, This is about building pathways young people, our old people. and doing that through our that have been there, and done it. But more importantly, the people a lack of empowerment. This football represents, to me, to be black men, black warriors Because the only time we seem

is when we're taking on one another or out of that little rectangle mark out of that square, down there. that we give the recognition. that we show our toughness. It's then that we show our caring side, And it's then from the other side goes down, when a brother whether he's... you know, and we all circle the wagons around about him being hit and hurt. for one thing, we're awful worried that I think These are the only times as black men, as black warriors. that we exercise our identity Well, look, in New South Wales, is under 25. 60% of the Aboriginal population We have kids havin' kids. of the political... landscape, You look at the side where are our black men? I am my mother's son, to the great women in my life. and I don't want to disrespectful But we... we are being disempowered. what I want from this, I don't know yet my wellbeing back, as a black man. but I do know that I want networks that I can turn to - And I want to be able to have my people, my uncles, my brothers... about it all the time. instead of talking APPLAUSE is a community that has dreams, MAN: I think a healthy community and a future focus, to achieve those things now. and... and plans in place of trying about a community going forward, We talk a lot with solutions, and you know, but we never, ever come up on what our dreams are, we need to start really focusing what we want to have in life, families, our communities, what we want to have for our own little action plans into place, and start putting what makes up a healthy community. and achieving them, so I think that BOB: And for me, the bottom line - Uh, healthy individuals. what makes healthy communities? communities, make healthy families, Healthy men and women make healthy physical stuff about being healthy. and I'm not just talking about the and cultural health. I'm talking about spiritual in my opinion, They're the things that, and healthy communities. lead to really, really helpful Aboriginal people, as well, Indian people, and I'm sure are visionary people. You have your Dream Time. We have our Vision Quest. "Why can't we achieve that?" What we should be thinking about is, that we need to overcome "What are the barriers "to get to that healthy community?" MAN: Drug and alcohol abuse. Drug and alcohol abuse. No leader... no leadership. education in the white world. MAN: Uh, the way our kids are taught MAN: Racism. Cuttin' policy and authority. Uh, lack of respect. to run the whole show. Individuals who just want Lack of discipline. Lack of motivation. Dishonesty, lack of honesty. and that's nepotism. It happens in all our communities, Lack of funding. The liberal government. LAUGHTER Black politics.

The inability to listen. The lack of, um... transition amongst our people. and succession planning Resistance to change. mentioned the word compassion, Not sure if anyone but I think often we'd like that. is, um... blame. Yeah, I think the major barrier Got to accept responsibility as well. and accountability for our actions, MORRIE: Lack of pride, self-esteem. Communication skills. or brutality. The leadership by intimidation of what a healthy community is. MORRIE: We now have a definition We've identified several barriers achieving that healthy community. that are inhibiting us from The next step in the process is to come up with, um...

..with a plan to address each one of those.

MAN: This nation of Australia... The real people need to stand up. And let's get back to... the grassroots. Be governed by the spirit. Not by the laws of man. The government is upside down today, manipulating you left, right and centre. We need then to stand up. Where is everybody? Hiding. We want our own identity back. The most deadliest weapon that we carry is our tongue. We're gonna use that. Sorry to talk like this, but we need leaders in the community to stand up for the government. APPLAUSE We got new, emerging leaders that are going back willing to... wanting to lead their communities, but are getting their legs cut from under 'em, so they're walking around whilst looking for somewhere to go

to share their knowledge and their skills to be able to identify with what they've learned with other people that want to go on the same way. So, I mean, the changes from the guy at the top stop the key leaders from emerging and coming through. If people don't start standing up for these types of people

in the communities, well then, what's going to happen? We'll be sitting here and taking this time talking about that for the last 20 years. BOB: Now, Jet, that's one of the things that we can talk about. How do we better support those people in our communities that are daring to advocate, that are daring to lead, that are trying to do some really good positive things? MAN: When you're saying your leaders and that are holding you back... A lot of the time, it's our elders.

A lot of the time it is, and that's a cold, hard fact. The only way we thought... we saw out of that was our mentor group. But you, young men, that raised your hand... Where are you again? There are several of you here. My question to you is - one, why are you here? And two, I want you to be thinking about what do you need from all the men sitting in this circle under this tent? What do you need from them to help you achieve where you want to go? Hi, I'm Justice. Um, I don't know what tribe I come from 'cause my mum was dumped into white family, and, uh... I'm just hoping, uh... gain, um... just a bit of respect from you, boys, and... I forgot what I was gonna say. APPLAUSE I'm here to learn... ..take in what is... what you have to say. And...yeah, take note of that. It might help me in the future. As men gathered here this afternoon, that we see the need for a change in our society, in our communities. And a very important part of that change is the role and responsibility and obligation of young men that are coming out. They need to be supported, they need to be celebrated, and they need to be, uh... embraced, in the true sense of the word. SOFT, DRAMATIC MUSIC

MAN: It's not just the physical health that we're talking about up here. It's not just the mental health issues here. Our health runs through our spirituality, in our emotional side, our language, our physical health... domestic violence. All these issues are to do with men's health. If we are going to improve men's health, we got to just stop looking at the physical prevention or the physical dealing with it. We got to deal with those grief and loss that we got for 200 years

in our possession, you know. Trans-generational loss. Um, one of the messages my... girlfriend said to me the other week was, you know, I'm not gonna let the kids sit around with their father, and watch him kill himself. And that, sort of, knocked me right on the head, you know. And, um... you know, I'll always be there to just support my family, my young family. And, uh... you know, like I said, I'll be talking to my uncles here today, in these next couple of days, so, you know, it makes me want to just get down and cry, you know.

MAN: Feel free to, alright? APPLAUSE Yeah, cheers. MAN: And my relationship with my Aboriginal community - and I'm the chair of the local council - but the things that I'm doing now in the last 12 months... If I was sober six years ago, oh, we'd be... you know... We would have been steaming ahead. But in 12 months, the difference to my family, to my community - from my perspective and through these eyes - is just phenomenal. So don't think you can't beat this thing... of alcohol, but the benefits when you do beat it, oh... you can't pay for it. But if you look... if you examine the documents, the papers.... Since day one in this country, white Australia has continued to tell us how pathetic we are - that we are drunks, that we are prone to go walk about, that we are, um... that we can't be relied upon. And I wonder if it's... if it's been delivered so well,

that to some degree, we believe it. I refuse... I refuse to believe that we cannot overcome anything that's in our... in the future. In order to do that, we have to have this type of forums, this type of dialogue. MORRIE: You talk about sovereignty. We use the word sovereignty - what does that mean to you? I think it's important for, um... Indigenous people in their communities or in their tribal organizations to define very clearly what sovereignty is to them, because that is going to determine... That is gonna be your guiding light by how... that allows you to interface with other governments on a government-to-government basis. The United States, as some of you may be aware or maybe all you are aware, has made over 300 treaties with the Indigenous people of the United States. And they have broken every one of them. MAN: We're traditional owners in the Northern Territory, at the Arnhem land, and, um... about a couple of years ago, when they wanted to mine the country, we had to negotiate with government, you know. And government set the terms in the page of that negotiation. So, you know, what are sovereignty rights, in those terms? You know, where do we stand, in reality? If we ever stop asserting our rights as the sovereign owners of this country, then the government will just continue to roll over us. So I don't care about what the government does. I think it's more important what we do as Indigenous people. Either we're sovereign or we're not.

And if we are, we need to then do the things that need to be done to celebrate that. Not keep on defending...

We'd spend 80% of our time fighting for change and betterment. We spend the rest of our time defending it. Rarely do we get no position in this country where we actually celebrate what it does and what it is that makes us who we are, as a sovereign people. So, Bob is right, they're never gonna give it to us, but that's more about them than us. So it's not about giving. It's about us asserting our right to it. MAN: Traditionally, women's business is women's business,

and men's business is men's business. And there's no... no coming together between women's and men's business. And as I say, I respect the role that women play in the community. And they have been the most strongest people in our community. You know, with all the domestic violence,

and everything that happens to Aboriginal men - you know, their disempowerment, and all that type of stuff. Who looked after all the kids? The women did, of course, and the grandmothers, so they were virtually stronger, stronger... the two.

And they were the ones who kept our society going. But I think men have to own up to their responsibility now, and take their place, you know. I just finished a nine-and-a-half year relationship last Friday, but as an Aboriginal woman, I respect her. I did the wrong thing. We had domestic violence... both of us, towards each other, through alcohol and jealousy and all those things. Um... but that's not, you know, to say that we both don't care about our community and our Aboriginal people that live in that community. And she's already agreed with me that, um... you know, we should work together for those boys that don't have fathers,

or those girls that need help, but if we, you know, work together pro-actively towards a common goal,

um, I think we can achieve a lot without money, without the government as Aboriginal people in our local communities. MAN: Hey, look, same way here, brother. You know, I'm all scarred up now. Three days I come this way, I... First time four years with my missus, you know. First time... first time I laid my hands on her. And I'm like the same way, you feel that small, you know.

We... we're not them sort of people. We're not that sort of men, you know. And... I'll leave my number with you. I-I'm there for you, brother. You head to Queens, and I'm there for you, brother. We're all going through the same sort of sh-t, eh? APPLAUSE To find out the violence in the family, you know... The kids see it all the time, and sometimes, they got to find their own way around, or walk the streets, you know, and this is worth more and more after a while when kids are walkin' on the streets, and that's where we come with our... with our kids, the street kids. And then, they turn to drugs and alcohol because that's what they got.

That's all that... is there for 'em. So, you know, and it's like...

Sometimes, you just feel like sitting down and crying, you know. And we have to make sure that we are in control of situations. And what I mean by that is our responsibility to our women. To ensure that we do care for 'em, we do love 'em, we do look after 'em. We do protect 'em, we do provide for them. We know they... they got their ways. And when things get difficult, you got to remove yourself away from that.

'Cause when you do find yourself in a situation, in a domestic violence situation, sometimes, there's no logic to what you can actually do. And even when we go away and comfort ourselves, we... you know, we find somebody nice and sweet, and we cross the line,

and when we go back, you know, they find out, and there's an argument about it, and all hell breaks loose. We suffer, our kids suffer.

Our whole family suffers. So we got to take more responsibility, ourselves. We can take control over what we do.

A lot of us, you know, we talk about domestic violence. It's not just punching piss out of a woman.

It's, uh... psychological, you know, it's financial. This abusive stuff, it's not sharin' and carin', it's not lovin'. We've got relationships with women,

with daughters, with nieces, with kids, everything. And women look up to us, as well. And I'm sure they don't want to look up to us when we're drunk, in bars, in our pot-gutted toe jams, and gambled all the money. LAUGHTER Now, let's be honest about it - some of us are like that. But we pretend we're not. That's what I'm saying - we have to be real about it, before we can do anything, and move forward. You got to trust that woman to rear your child to be a healthy child.

And... and an educated child. You know, you can't do it on your own. And you look... it don't matter how far you look back in our law. Our Aboriginal law states that. That... that's our role as a man - to look after our women and our children, you know. That... that's why we're here today, so you got to show a little bit of respect and support and trust.

The reality is - here I am, I'm 45, and I finally feel... like I'm beginning to grow up, because all of those things that once meant something to me - that domination of, um... females, not women, females. My attitude towards females... My aspirations towards what I thought was being a hero was driving that big, flashy car, and, um... you know, having everybody look at me, and go, "Yeah, mmm." Really, it... it's a non-event. It's nonsense. But it takes what it takes to understand that stuff. It takes what it takes. When will somebody come along and haul me up as the fraud that I've been? And the fraud I'm talking about is my own fear. My fear that... that somebody might expose me for the bastard that I was. I am... From now on, I'm making a push forward, and I'm prepared to talk to anybody about anything. And... and I have to do that in order to honour my grandparents, my uncles and aunties, um... and I'm sorry, but I've got to honour the women in my culture. SOFT, DRAMATIC MUSIC MAN: We've struck up a very strong relationship with each other. But then, how do you pass it on to the next person - the passion, the commitment, the bond that we built here?

How are we going to transfer that... that passion and commitment to others in our community who we know would benefit, who we know would gain strength, as men? And our theme for that process is -

our language, our culture, our land,

our people, our future, our sovereign rights. We got to get away from depending on government, and waiting for them to come to the party, and support this type of things. We got to start standing up as black people, as black men, and we got to start looking at how we re-engage with our people on the ground. We need to start lookin' at, now,

how we move forward as an Aboriginal race, and develop... our 40 years for the next future. And start to push our sovereign rights, because that's what's gonna win us the next 40 years. What after the comradery? People came together from different sides and they shared their stories. They danced, they sang. This is a modern-day comradery of immense proportions. We have the power in our hand, and as far as I'm concerned, if we want to make a difference back in our communities, then the buck stops here.

Right here, it's today. APPLAUSE And I'm gonna tell you something. There's a talk about the spirit man. He brings you down to your hands and knees, and I tell you what, he sought out black fathers. Not only the black fathers, everybody. So, if you think you're having a problem, there's a fellow watching you. And we got to get back to grassroots, and help one another. Stumbling blocks become stepping stones, gentlemen. We stumble individually, we stumble as a community, but more importantly, we need to pick ourselves up, individually, and more importantly, as a black man, circle the wagons around one another, and help one another... move on, 'cause if we don't, we're gonna be left behind. And I want my right back. I want my rights to say what goes on with my family, and I want my community back,

and I want my rights to say what goes on in my land, and at the moment, we don't have that. I'm sorry. APPLAUSE MAN: He said the, um... We've lit the fires. The fires of men's issues have been lit, and you know, let's not let 'em go out, you know. Let's keep that fire goin', and that's powerful stuff, you know. He told me that this morning, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, you know, and I said, "Thanks for that information, bro." I come here with the same troubles, the same things in my way, and that... it makes me feel good inside, that, you know, down here, where you hit the hardest... yous got that spirit, yous got that drive, you know. And I can go home now, feeling a lot better what I'm doing because, you know, I don't feel like I'm the only one out there, you know. Thanks for having me, eh, fellows.

Yous are brothers, and always will be. APPLAUSE SOFT, DRAMATIC MUSIC

And that's all for this week. Thanks for joining us. If you want any further information, please check out the Message Stick website - Closed Captions by CSI *

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