Purple Hibiscus

A night old and still
Let the moonlight kiss his caramel skin
Let the stars bless his soul
As the air fills his newborn lungs

A mothers love so strong
Unable to release her grip
That wrapped his young heart
A mothers love, so strong

His name, she cries
Echoing in all the havoc
But she is silenced by policy
And defeated by force

In the distance,
She stands withered and broken
Her eyes on the horizon
As he disappears,
To a dusty road, filled with the unknown

Lost to a system,
Where the only one who wins is you,
A.O. 
Take him because of his skin,
But you can not take what is within.
Oh-eight, 'Sorry', 
She hears you,
But that will never undo,
All the lost time you can not deny.

I see her, we cry.
I am wrapped once more, a mothers love
The light that kisses,
The stars that bless,
The air that fills,
I am reborn,
Together we are strong.

Together we stand
Together we heal
Together we are the future

 

Allirra Winmar is a Noongar Balladong yorga from Quarading, WA. Allirra believes that with knowledge comes confidence, and is driven by her desire to learn more about her family's history and connections. Working as the Indigenous Engagement Officer at the ICEA Foundation, Allirra wants to empower young people to talk together about how the past impacts the present and inspire conversations that will develop mutual understanding and respect.

What is 'Community Development'? A personal reflection

I’m wondering if you’ve ever thought what reconciliation might look like? What would be different? What would be better?

When I was a kid, I found going in to school everyday exciting. Some of my earliest memories are of learning Noongar slang - shouting ‘Balay!’  to put people off as they kicked the footy-  telling scary stories about the mamari (a kind of bad spirit) and learning how to do a corroboree. Oh, if you’re wondering, Balay is a slang word meaning 'look out'.

As an adult visiting my hometown, it doesn’t ring of the same innocence and joy as it did when I was younger, or at least as it does in my memory. There is a shift happening in many communities - not just rural or remote ones. It’s something that is happening on even the smallest of scales. Our school communities, friendship groups even - they are different places as adults. They are filled with complexity and things to navigate, politics and emotions. For many people, both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal, this becomes our reality.

My interest in community development sprung from my early experience and has been piqued over time by different events and experiences. I’m tormented by how we define ourselves as Australians. I often find it too difficult to see the ‘fair go’, the common sense, the grounded nature that I once did and that I know is there somewhere. It dismays me to know that in many cases, the relationships I enjoyed so much with my Aboriginal counterparts as a kid would now be riddled with an inability to communicate across barriers that, over time, have been inflicted upon us, often without our permission, realisation or acknowledgement. My Aboriginal primary school sweetheart, for example, who kissed me on the cheek behind the tennis courts in Year 7, and whose last name I was too ashamed to share with my high school friends upon getting to Perth. I’ve reencountered him in adult life and since working in the reconciliation space, and don’t know how I could ever have allowed myself to be convinced that our friendship was something to be ashamed of.

This is really the crux of what I want for you to understand if you are a Non-Aboriginal person reading - it isn’t about feeling guilty for the way that society has been shaped up until now. It is about taking responsibility for reshaping it into the future. We all have the power just as we are to assume this role - to become an ally in reconciliation for the future and to begin a learning journey that will not only benefit our collective future but can positively transform our own world view.

As a young person, how we come to identify as Australians in the future is incredibly important to me. I do what I do because I believe that all Australians are deeply and negatively impacted by the fractured relationship between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australians, and that our freedom, happiness and success is bound up in that, unable to be fully realised.

Today I work alongside people from all walks of life and in many capacities, and every day I am reminded of the value we bring to each other’s lives. My vision is that every Australian comes to see this truth, so that our Australian identity may be healed and may truly flourish.