Here I am, leaning in with Yvonne Weldon at her Gleebook event last night where she shared the story behind her debut novel Sixty Seven Days.
It’s a story about love and loss and it’s set in the heart of Yvonne’s proud Wiradjuri heritage. Yvonne is a First Nations Australian.
Some of Yvonne’s mob have asked her if the title is a reference to the significant and life changing 1967 referendum – life changing for all Australians, that is, not just her people.
She says it’s a coincidence – but an interesting one.
Why is Good Grief! celebrating this book?
Because Yvonne’s work – all of it – draws attention to First Nations people in Australia, their needs and their political aspirations. But most importantly, she highlights their unrealised potential to take their natural place in shaping the shared future dreaming of all of us, white and black.
Good Grief! looks for the explanations for mortality in our modern culture. And Australia’s First Nations people, while a small proportion of our population today, are significantly over-represented in our death statistics.
Their deaths are tied to historic disadvantage, a direct impact of being aggressively and shamelessly colonised over the last 200+ years. And 1967? That’s the year Australians voted yes to a referendum to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander as part of the population.
“to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander as part of the population…”
But wait a second! As recently as 1967 white Australians got to say whether a people who they had colonised and who had been here for 67,000 years could get the right to be counted as citizens? Are you kidding?
That’s the absurdity of how we frame these things, still.
If you think that’s hyperbole and exaggeration only this week, the family of Kamilario-Dunghutti man Ricky Hampson have called for an inquest into his death.
He presented at Dubbo Hospital with severe stomach pains, an elevated heart rate and a popping and tearing sensation in his stomach in August last year. He was sent home and not admitted. He died a few hours later due to perforated stomach ulcers.
Was Ricky’s bad death caused by racism?
His family believe this medical bungle was because of racism. Was it?
Good Grief! knows that incidents like this can happen in hospitals all the time for all sorts of reasons – especially in these times when there are more hospital admissions due to Covid-19 and far less staff to manage them.
But while ever the statistics show that Indigenous Australians carry unfair and disproportionate burdens of death and disease, it will only be right for our state governments to say yes to their families requests for inquests in such situations.
Because an inquest will dispassionately get to the truth, document what went wrong for future reference and make recommendations.
We hope the NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman says yes.
Why Australia Day is a day of mourning for Australia’s First Nations People.
All lives don’t matter until black lives matter.
Here is a TV news report about Ricky Hampson’s death.