‘Cultural Enrichment through the Gospel’ I acknowledge the traditional owners of this country we are gathered here today and look forward to spending a pleasant time being embraced and welcomed into this country. I acknowledge Wurundjeri, Boonerwrung, Taungurong, Djajawurrung and the Wathaurung people who make up the Kulin nation. I stand here on your country as a visitor and respect this sacred protocol. I also acknowledge Ms Thelma Parker, Chairperson of NATSICC, NATSICC and Bishops, clergy, other local and international special guests and my fellow Catholic family members When I learnt of the theme for this conference and the request for me to approach my speech around the power of music and the capacity to bring good news through music I felt challenged. As what I do and how I do it comes natural to me and sometimes other challengers test me or is always testing me despite any success, accolade or status that I have achieved or continue to achieve. My work and how I carry out my work is my measure. Gods will, will be done.
“THE HOLY LIGHT” See the holy light, Burning on its candle stick Calling in his name, Born and raised a Catholic The Papal lives in Rome, The most highest of our church Please lord hear my prayers, My spirit now will search For your guiding light, Shall lead me through my pain My Indigenous woes, Given up to your domain I hear the faint footsteps, Its coming close to bay What did my fore fathers do wrong, Why do I have to pay See the holy light, Burning on its candle stick Calling in his name, Born and raised a Catholic See the holy light, Bath in is holy light Feel the holy light, Embrace is holy light
I am not really one for talking about my achievements in a egocentric manner but rather in a humble “making a difference dimension” to bring attention more to my outcomes rather than my achievements for the betterment first of all for my fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and secondly for all Australians. Using a godly metaphor as I do, allows me to say; do, and achieve what I phrased “Culturally appropriate services for culturally appropriate outcomes. To understand the influences that have carved me into the person I am today we have to engage with history. In this case my history. So I share now with you some insight into whom I am and how I had become a social commentator, mimicking a gender and highlight the social and emotional traps that affect who I am and most Indigenous peoples of Australia find themselves in. Again History plays the big part here. As was quoted by the late and great Bob Marley, who wrote most of his songs from the bible and its teachings. He said once: “If you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future”. We must know where we come from, in many metaphors and paths. I come from the Kitja and Gunian people of the East Kimberley and my mother was stolen from her mother, language, culture and country to be placed in an orphanage in Broome under Govt policies and the shelter of the Catholic Church through the St John of Gods Sisters who embraced all stolen Generation children amongst others. This policy and the fact that my grandmother was classified as an unfit mother is what have created me to be a voice for the rights of Stolen Generation people. In my coming of age I learnt about this terrible hurt that was imposed on our people and on my mother and other family members. Yes our church like most other religious groups played a part in this sad era of vial attack on the institution of motherhood. I reflect this to the powerful scene at the foot of the cross when Mary holds the broken body of Jesus with an absolute broken heart. The anguish of a mother’s heart and broken love has been a very potent metaphor that has reflected to me that men make the mischief and woman bare the pain. This was what I saw in my mother’s eyes when I ask as a little boy, “Mum who are our people, where do we come from”, in which my mother could not answer and her eyes tell of the confused, hurt and emptiness as I gazed into her eyes which in turn opened for me a tunnel of emptiness into my mother’s soul.
I questioned, “What God – have my people, My mother do wrong to be punished and removed from their natural state to be attempted to be assimilated according to European demands, expectations and self-righteousness. Why have my people been exposed to this gross mismanagement and contradictions?” I grew up with a strong Catholic Mother and a Muslim father both was loyal to their religions; and of cause my siblings along with me became Catholics as my mother wanted. Dad had no issue with this and he also supported Mum by also making sure that we were going to church with mum. He never imposed his religion on us and encouraged to be faithful to our religion. He taught me to respect and appreciate the power of god as the all mighty and his plans are his plans and we must respect his plans. He always asked often why people fight all over the world in different religions when there is only one God. He believed strongly in the power of one common God who had influences over all of us. To me as a young boy, going to church was a place off song, reflection and family gatherings which inspired me to sing and embrace the many songs in church. At Christmas it was a very emotional time as songs sang in church for xmas was highly powerful and would even bring you to tears. The reverb of the church, the harmonies, and whole atmosphere of xmas was sacred as it is. As a little boy growing in a world of wonder looking at the cross with Jesus on it and the two women by his side had a huge impact on me of suffering and human failure and the suffering also of those who was by Jesus’s side. As a little boy I questioned why? Why was a good man punished and I felt the pain of those women. I guess I was also a bit of a daydreamer, maybe I still am, but I am still haunted by the question of why? How can a good man, who has not done no evil but to bring a good word, good news to show and share love become a victim. As I grew older I learnt that he was a good man, he was the son of god and he died, he suffered and he gave his life for us.
SONG A LEADER Am/F/G As a child I grew up, in a world of superstition Thinking that the dark was all evil I saw things that could not be explained Then I realised, it was just in my head As I grew older, I learnt of a small boy A small child born to be king Something was special about this child Cause men came from afar A leader, he was a leader Of love and peace, and humanity An example, to all mankind The son of God and the prince of peace Now I’m much older, I understand This little boy, was a holy man He taught us to love one another And to share the good things in life He died on the cross for you and me He gave his life for our eternity It is written in the book of love It is written in the book of life Jesus’s death had a major influence on who I am and my nature and why I do what I do. Yes I also suffer by an evil of envy, jealousy and what they call now Lateral Violence. It still permeates into my life today. Now that I am older I have learnt that Humans can be cruel and sometimes don’t even know they are being cruel. Everybody hurts. But when people cut you down, or talk behind your back, remember they took time out of their unhappy lives, to think about you. I discovered this quote by Bob Marley: “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you, you just have to decide which ones are worth suffering for.” This quote summarises the challenges that Jesus went through and how hard it was to bring good news, love and human kindness. He chose to suffer for all of us.
I learnt through the teachings of Jesus that if one is doing good, and one is doing God’s work and one is committed to making a positive difference to other people’s lives, then you just soldier on. As a fellow Broome song writer Jimmy Chi once said in a song “Life is just a journey that sways from Side to side”. I share here a little factual remarkable insight I discovered. The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117 The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119 The chapter in the centre of the Bible is Psalm 118 There are exactly 594 Chapters before Psalm 118 There are also exactly 594 Chapters after Psalm 118 Add these chapter numbers up and you get 1188 So what is the centre verse of the Bible it is Psalm 118.8 Does this verse say something significant about Gods perfect will for lives? Next time someone says they would like to find Gods perfect will for their lives and they want to be in the centre of his will, send them to the centre of the Bible, to the centre of his word. This word which is in Psalm 118.8 “It is better to trust in the Lord than put confidence in man” I add also this quote from Job 12:13 “With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding” As a child I was in awe of the stories of the bible and I remember my mother buying this collection of coloured bible story books and they were a fascination for me. I enjoyed catechism and listening to some sisters and meeting lovely human beings, yes they were older than me, but they treated me with kindness. I found this inspiring. I fell in love with the nature, kindness and friendliness of these people of the church. I as a child was wrapped up in the wonders of the miracles in the bible. I was in awe of the power to touch and affect other people’s lives that were less fortunate than me. I felt embraced, loved and secure. I felt sheltered and inspired by my church. I then wanted to go to a catholic school which my mother placed me in and I was now under the Christian Brothers who was strict but good people. Again I got inspired by these men and they shared a great spirit of human kindness with a twist of discipline. I progressed into being an altar boy, cutting my teeth on stage so to speak. I was taught by my peers and found being an altar boy bought me closer to God, the tabernacle and the Cross with Jesus on, that stood high and tall at the alter of the church. I was now closer to a sacred place that not everyone gets the privilege to sit, stand and celebrate mass.
This was the changing of a little boy into developing into a self-thinking little man. I was an altar boy at the ordination of Pat Dodson when he became the first Aboriginal Catholic priest and I was in my element with all the members of the church and community playing my part in this special event. It was a big event in Broome and I was again on main stage in front of everyone, not that anyone really noticed, as I, like everyone else was carrying out a special service and so just got lost in it all. None the less it was my growing up as a young man. The singing, songs, musicians or even the old sisters playing the organ was all like a light to a moth for me. I was instantly attracted to it all and the feeling of human love seemed so strong. I felt that I wanted to stay in this place as it was a great high. We would sing out loud especially when the singing Nuns came out with “Our father who art in heaven”. Well this was also moving with the times it was faster songs and greater passion. But some songs just touched you and celebrated our lord God. How Great Thou Art Bb D# O Lord my God when I in awesome wonder Bb E# Bb Consider all the works thy hand has made D# I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder Bb E# Bb Your power throughout the universe displayed D# Bb Then sings my soul, my saviour God to thee E# Bb How great thou art, how great thou art D# Bb Then sings my soul, my saviour God to thee E# Bb How great thou art, how great thou art Bb D# When through the woods and forest glades I wander Bb E# Bb and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; Bb D# when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, Bb E# Bb and hear the brook, and feel its gentle breeze;
I wanted to learn guitar, so mum bought me a guitar as a little boy, but I had no one to teach me so it became a drum kit. Work that out. Rhythm was a natural thing inside of me, crying to get out, not to mention later also records and rock n roll. The combination of good spirit, modern music, access to records and songs, singing in church started to influence me into a direction that would later play a very important part in my personal growth, status and profile. I had no idea. I was sent to a Christian Brothers boarding school where I was exposed to a lot more music, a mega cathedral made of stone with amazing acoustics and reverb and was ever so big. When we sang the sound reverberated and it gave an even more holy vibe and connection to God. I started to teach myself guitar on my own as I felt so determined to learn. I learnt basic chords and grew from there. My life was changing and my desires now was to be a priest or a Christian Brother, I had a calling in which I wanted to help people and in particularly people less fortunate than me. I felt a strong calling as a young man, but I was not clear of what it really was. I wanted to choose my vocation in the church. I was inspired by good people of the cloth like Brothers, Priests and sisters/nuns and even lay brothers and lay sisters. Not to mention also my Mother and the entire Stolen Generation woman that I grew up with who also was dedicated to our religion and held up the church in many regions throughout the Kimberley. I learnt that Stolen Generation people who was taken to Catholic Missions etc was very loyal to the church and when the Bringing them home report came out they defended the church whilst hurting. What an interesting, powerful state of mind this is, for those already dispossessed people. One would hope that the Doctrine of Discovery of 1452 has no relevance today as it has been the root of all dispossessions. In this context, the executive committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting at Bossey, Switzerland, February 2012, Denounced the Doctrine of Discovery as fundamentally opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and as a violation of the inherent human rights that all individuals and peoples have received from God; (F).and Encourages World Council of Churches to support the continued development of theological reflections by Indigenous Peoples which promote indigenous visions of full, good and abundant life and which strengthen their own spiritual and theological reflections. I learnt later that a lot of these people blamed the Govt more than the church and felt that the church, our church would have a solicitude feeling for them, be compassionate and considered to the plight of the Stolen Generations and their future generations to attain nirvana, securing a spiritual sanctuary for those dispossessed. After all, the fact is that the generational trauma continues and will continue on as quoted by many medical health experts.
So many Aboriginal children have a wounded soul from the layers of grief and loss, yet so many of these children can still experience the joy in life and warm our hearts” Aboriginal psychiatrist Dr Helen Milroy. “The history of colonization, and its aftermath, including the forced removal of children, has been the most significant reason for today’s picture of Aboriginal health and other problems. The evidence is overwhelming of the effects of loss of culture, land, voice, population, parents and children” Professor Fiona Stanley Former director of Telethon Institute and 2003 Australian of the year I have also learnt that human beings have weaknesses and it does not matter which religion or culture, we sometimes break the golden rule of hurting and creating suffering to our fellow man. This makes us not perfect but vulnerable, to tests, challenges and weaknesses and it’s our faith, humanity and spirituality that govern us as creatures of love and respect rather than envy, anger and violence. As individuals we must choose. As individuals we take our own journey or create our own paths and we must live with our conscience, ourselves, our communities and our own state of mind. Our lives are governed by our history. I share here a little story taken from a Cherokee Native Americans elder but I changed it to suit our people for Australia. An old Aboriginal man is sitting, teaching his grandson about life. He says in every person there is a fight going on inside of them,” he says to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two Dingoes. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” Then he continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. That same fight is going on inside of you – and inside every other person, too.” He says. The grandson’s eyes open up with astonishment he thinks about it for a minute and then turns and asks his grandfather, “But Grandpa – Which Dingo wins the fight?” The old man simply replies, “The one you choose to feed.” I often questioned why did Jesus and John the Baptist, Moses and Noah go off into the wilderness to speak to God. I learnt that God is everywhere and the church is our community. Where we come together and worship, praise pray and celebrate the great divine, the great gift given to us by God if we are willing to open our hearts and minds to the great teachings, stories and events of the Bible periods. Aboriginal people have always been natural Christians in our traditional state, as we lived, shared, cared and worshipped a great spirit of the creator himself and his servants and helpers ie Angel’s etc for thousands of years.
In the Kimberley the ancient paintings of the Wandjina as the Great Spirit and creator of everything also moved me to see the connection to the bible stories of creation. As the Bible is a 3000 year old record of man and his relationship with God the Ngarinyin, Wunambal and Worrorra people including Bunaba and Kitja peoples relationship with the ancient rock art depictions of God and creation through Wandjina via 40 to 70 thousand year old paintings. God’s great story is older than the bible as we know; we have the ancient records also written on old rock paintings and carvings that are dispersed across the Kimberley and many variations across Australia, older than the Bible, the Pyramids and Stonehenge. God is alive in our ancient culture. Wandjina, came down from the Milky Way during the Dreamtime and created the earth and all its inhabitants. The Dreamtime is known as Ngarranghgunny time. Wandjina is the superior Spirit Being of the Ngarinyin, Wunambal and Worrorra people of the Kimberley, Australia. WANDJINA Maker of the earth and sea, Maker of you and me He gave man to live on this earth, In this world for what it’s worth Chorus Maker of the wind and rain, Perhaps your thinking we’re insane But we believe our body is our land, Perhaps one day you will understand Chorus And if you come from another race, Have pity on us and our sacred sites Cause we really love this land, Perhaps one day you will understand Chorus Aboriginal people was natural Christians in our traditional state. Despite what people may say like primitive, backwards, ancient etc. We must remember everything we have today come from someone else’s dream and creation. It was the divine gift given to those in the past who inherited the capacity to wonder, dream and soul searching for answers. We over time have inherited the greatest gift from God in all its different forms like technology, architecture; wisdom, knowledge, and agriculture over time, due to searching for the way to connect to God. A human hunger for the truth. But as we all know God appears to us every day sometimes we cannot even see God due to our own greed, selfishness and desires for materialism. These are human traits that really are about our own spiritual strength, faith and confidence, that a greater essence is the driving force to make us truly in the eyes of God. Sometime, many times in fact we have failed as humans due to greed, power, selfishness and lack of faith. These are all human weaknesses.
Bob Marley – “I don’t know where people get this idea that one man can rule over all the people; yet when you sum it all up, even the biggest man was one time a baby”. We are all dependence of greater things, spiritually, humanly and emotionally, God roles all this into one. Human endeavour and success comes from inspiration, belief, faith and information from many others. From ancestors, to present day to the dreams, vision and aspirations of mankind inherited, into the future. All IP belongs to us all. We evolve from the teachings and the gospels to achieve and strive into the future from out past. Redemption Song Old Pirates, yes, they, rob I, Sold I to the merchant ships Minutes after they, took I from the bottomless pit But my hand(was made), strong by the hand of the Almighty. We forward in this generation, triumphantly Chorus Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, None but ourselves can free our minds. Have no fear for atomic energy, Cause none of them can stop the time. How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look? Yes, some say it’s just a part of it, We’ve got to fulfil the book CHORUS If the Catholic Church, my church, my religion can burn someone at the stake than 500 years later make her a saint and if the church can excommunicate a nun form the church then to make her a saint then surely the church can find it in its depths of love, heart and spirit to assist the Stolen Generations and their descendants parcels or pockets of land to allow greater healing, dignity, pride and forgiveness, in playing its role in the removal policies of that cruel era. Was it not so that the two greatest love’s in Jesus’s life were two woman, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene. They were his strength, his rock and his pillar to praise almighty God. Woman who were the backbone to mankind, in this case Jesus, regardless of what language, culture, religion. I therefore call upon my church and its powers to be, to allow those places that became a place of incarceration, social engineering, mind formatting, breaking of Cultural shackles of one’s identity, a place that substituted a home, a place of punishment, discipline, worship, hard love, a place that established its solid base on broken love, pain, grief, a false impression of discredited Aboriginal mothers of being incapable parents, are a contradiction on what those sacred women meant in Jesus’s time. Those many mothers who cried themselves to death by waning, despair, grief and suffering like those great woman at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified.
TURN BACK TIME TURN BACK TIME TURN BACK TIME TURN BACK TIME (Its so hard for my heart) to set free Those good times and those memories And when I’m alone I think of you I pray to Jesus to take good care of you I cry each night and I cry each day Why oh why were you taken away From my heart and from my side I miss your love, I can’t take this ride (If I could turn back) the hands of time I would bring you back to me I would treasure each moment And not let go of you Oh Sweet Jesus, and Mother of God (Take good care of them) for I seek out your word (If I could call upon) your great divine (I would seek your help) (to turn back) time (I would seek your help) (to turn back) time My church and my religion have had a huge capacity to influence me in my journey in life since childhood to making a difference through music, song, storytelling and leadership. Leadership in terms of persuasion despite the phobias and fears of public speaking to use the gift to bring about positive change, thought and reconciliation of our country from an Indigenous perspective. I have had the great fortune to be gifted by the all mighty, a great character, tool and skill that has been honed and is still being honed by my own personal journey since childhood, learning, discovering and finding my own unique place in the world. Working with Mary G has taken me to places that I never ever thought I would ever see or visit or even heard of and to connect, touch and have a healing capacity through the work I do as Mary G. I did not calculate all of this; it came about by purer fate and faith.
I am an introvert, Mary G is an extrovert. But the impact, trust and the respect across Indigenous Australia in particularly regional and isolated Australia has even me, in awe at times. The journey across Australia through song, storytelling, and positive words of life change, humour and wit has allowed me to play my small part in the good work of social and emotional wellbeing for everyone. Sometimes even in through self-humility I have found power. Just the other night I was in Lockhart River Community and they put on a special traditional welcoming dance for Mary G and I was dragged up to dance, being tutored on the spot by a young woman Greta Pascoe who was so honoured to be teaching Mary G. She leaned over whispered to me that she just graduated as a teacher and can I announce that when I am back on stage. I was so honoured and putting her substantiating her was a duel empowerment action that was occurring for me as much for her. This power used correctly can make a difference and can change people’s lives. This, I firmly believe is God’s work and I was chosen to do this work. I believe it comes from all those years as a young man trying to find my place in the trials and the contemplations of being a clergy or a career vocation in the church. I also firmly have faith in that it also comes from the very deep suffering and pain that I have inherited generationally encompassing massacre of parts of my direct tribe, my grandmothers loss of a daughter, and my mother’s loss of her mother being stolen, my being; and the trials and tribulations that have tested me and my wife, all the similar issues that affect all our Indigenous people across Australia. But the pain of dealing with loss of a child, suicide and child abuse along with all of the above has bought me closer to God through suffering and Mary G has been my salvation and my desires through my sub conscious intents to making a difference. But I am just only one, and yes, one stick is easy to break but many like all of us here together cannot be broken. It cannot be broken because of our chose to stand by each other, support each other and trust each other in the name of God and Gods will and our collective Church and faith. Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20) I have used music as a powerful tool with song telling our stories and hoping that through song it will inspire and create change for the better. My life is about sustaining the grace to our people and through the gifts I have to assist our people to rise up despite difficult times. It is a proven record. I have to say that Cultural enrichment through the Gospel has been a huge part of my career with no doubt and has also been a guiding principle to my thinking, conviction and passion in bringing a great sense of hope to our people and our country. Our country needs to heal and our ATSI people have to be given back their stolen dignity. Until this happens we will continue to live a nation under a false perception in the duty of
care for protecting, nurturing and empowering our Ancient cultures that make up the diverse aspect of Indigenous Australia. I play my part and take my role seriously and share my journey with you all. We are all instruments of our good lord’s peace. Once I was going through a dark time and Jesus was holding my hand and walking right beside me…… Once I realised he was with me, my eyes, heart and mind was reopened. I have quoted a lot from Bob Marley in this speech as his song writing and his music was worked and performed to bring hope, love and peace into people’s lives. Bob Marley always wrote the majority of his songs from the bible and like him I also found my main sources of writing songs from, the Bible in particularly Proverbs, a wonderful source of inspiration. I have found a great vocation doing God’s work. Using music, theatre, Wit, Humour, Radio, Television, public Appearances, and my life skills based on love, hurt, pain, suffering and faith. I firmly believe in the work I do and I have seen up front the impact, the power and the capacity to bring good strong healing messages that helps our people even if it is for just a moment of their life. I feel I have been touched, gifted and given a job to do, and do it I will as I know that after all these years I have found that it is my calling and my destiny to play my role in making a difference. Thank you God. Bob Marley: I’m a man of God and I come to do God’s work. My hand is made strong by the hand of the Almighty. James 5:13 ESV / 26 helpful votes Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. I now finish my presentation with this great song that captures the great power of grace. It was written by a man in the Royal Navy named Newton who was a slave seller, a guy that went to Africa, got slaves, and sold them in the Americas, and during one of his trips, The turning point in Newton’s spiritual life was a violent storm and after he left the deck, the crewman who had taken his place was swept overboard. Although he manned the vessel for the remainder of the tempest, he later commented that, throughout the storm, he realized his helplessness and concluded that only the grace of God could save him. Newton took the first step toward accepting faith, He prayed to God that he would become a holy man and return the slaves if the storm went away. He also began to ensure that every member of his crew treated their human cargo with gentleness and concern. Well the skies cleared, and he turned around, dropped the slaves back in Africa went back to England and became a priest. This is the song he wrote and I will sing some verses of it for you. A song that you all know and a song that is very moving. I hope that I have inspired and touched you all with my presentation. May the Good Lord be with you all? Thank you all.
AMAZING GRACE D D7 G D Amazing grace how sweet the sound A7 That saved a wretch like me D D7 G D I once was lost but now Im found A7 D Was blind but now I see D D7 G D T’was grace that taught my heart to fear A7 And grace my fears relieved D D7 G D How precious did that Grace appear A7 D The hour I first believed. D D7 G D Through many dangers, toils and snares A7 I have already come; D D7 G D ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far A7 D and Grace will lead me home. D D7 G D When we’ve been here ten thousand years A7 Bright shining as the sun. D D7 G D We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise A7 D Than when we’ve first begun. D D7 G D Amazing grace how sweet the sound A7 That saved a wretch like me D D7 G D I once was lost but now Im found A7 D Was blind but now I see
FINAL EXCERISE “I LOVE YOU AND THERES NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT” Sing Hero’s as a Encore and maybe Three little Birds