Patsy’s Speech From Farewell Afternoon Tea
I acknowledge this beautiful Wadjuk Noongar country and the Elders custodians and community leaders’ resilience, generosity of spirit and hard work in our community. Since coming to work here, at 26 Railway Parade, now a beautiful new building for Ngala and the Swan Alliance, I have begun to learn the true value of community. Whatever you give, comes back in buckets.
With great respect and appreciation, my Aboriginal friends and family Nytunga and Dianna and the beautiful children have taught me, reinforced by working with Aunty Di Ryder and listening to the wonderful stories of Aunty Josie, then hearing the words of Harley Eagle, that with knowledge comes responsibility, and the way through whatever detail of the mess we find ourselves in, that Aboriginal knowledge can inform healthy communication and respectful practice. I have deep appreciation for the gentleness and kindness that I have been taught these things, with patience and generosity and time to absorb and process. They have allowed me to honour myself and once you have your song, you can always sing it!
I want to thank those, some of whom first walked in escaping violence and abuse that many years ago, and who have come to say “adieu” to me today, that I am almost overwhelmed (it’s always better to be overwhelmed than under-whelmed) by the wonderful powerful women that they have become. I think I have learnt the most from the desperate and homeless who have taught me so much, their resilience and power in reclaiming their lives, and I thank them for their generosity in sharing their struggles as well as their tears and their joys.
In the last few days, I have also heard disappointment in in people’s voices and the sense of abandonment that sometimes comes from our experience as women.
We have a held to our vision “Healthy Women, Strong Community” and we’ve worked together through our fear of abandonment, by facing that fear and using our connection and our love, to overcome it. We stand on the shoulders of those who come before, many of whom I am honoured to join us today. I sincerely thank you for your integrity, foresight & inspiration.
I feel I’ve learnt so much about our community over the years and I celebrate as I look through the treasure trove of our gathered jewels. We have tried to do things the right way, respectfully and inclusively from our Smoking Ceremony that the Architects and Builders had never experienced before, our partnerships with City of Swan and Lotterywest for this building, which stays the hub and heart of our work, and recently for our Lotterywest Grant to future proof the organisation with the computer system that will make it easier for us to give funders the numbers for the supply chain.
I’ve learn that we Wadjellas often focus on “stuff” – how many meetings have I been to where we sit & whinge about resources (?) and what I’ve heard from a wonderful international Indigenous leader who visited Midland – yes, he came to Midland this week – Harley Eagle from the Dakota peoples, is that with knowledge comes responsibility. If we peel back the layers of our own experience, in our own hearts, the sexism, the racism and fears, our struggles to overcome require courage and integrity and managing that process is our journey.
The sense of abandonment I mentioned before, speaking from my own personal experience, comes I think form feeling “dumped on”. As women we get dumped on a lot, abandoned with other people’s junk, from violence to bills and I have learnt from sharing stories with individual women, that it is our capacity, our resilience and our love that carries us through. I might even suggest that this “being dumped on” is something that we share with the dispossessed in our society, for whatever reason. This year, I have also shared some experiences in losing children, that I would not wish on anyone, but it has given me the capacity to start to understand what grief of losing our younger ones, and the hammering that inter-generational trauma might generate.
I’ve been accused of being passionate, as if it’s a bad thing. Sometimes words like passion can be used by people to maintain the status quo but I choose to accept that passion can inform practice, and its not what they call you, its what you answer to that counts. My passion is about inequity – we have enough stuff and we can share and heal together
I came here to use my head, heart and hands and I hope to overcome frameworks of fear, the iceberg of racism and the structures that demand explanations all the time; that we can play our bit, supply the information, look after the money, provide the evaluations, prove our worth, but the biggest challenge is to keep focussed on what is important.
In reflecting on these past few months, as I congratulated the Young Parents graduating with their Certificates in Education, met a young man from Karnany’s Fathers Project, was invited to the launch of Meerilinga’s RAP program, met with the inter-generational Aboriginal family that came to WRD was smoked at the White Ribbon Day march, pushed shopping trolleys off the pavement for the Police Pipe Band, carried messages from the children of Swan View Primary school to stop violence, and had Vision building workshop to give us some direction for the next twenty years, I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I have benefited from.
If we can create the kind of safety to hear the uncompromising truth, not to turn our backs with fear in our hearts, or reject the truth tellers, and share the responsibility of knowledge, then we have the opportunity to heal together.
I heard recently on the radio, from Elder Jack Charles, who I was privileged to meet in the street one day, that resilience is holding back your pissedoffedness.
I also heard that same day from a Sami Elder from Norway, a traditional Joiker who sang a wolf song and then said, “if someone finds the wolf inside them, then I have reached the stars.”
My sincere thanks for sharing your journey with me, my gift to you my head, heart and hands, is that I won’t go away because you are too precious to abandon.
So please step through the fear of abandonment. I am still here, connected by my passion to this most precious jewel, this country, this Midland community. Stand on my shoulders and see ahead, steer us towards our vision, Healthy women Strong Community.
24th January 2018.