There are families in family violence Although great steps have been taken to address the issue of family violence in Australia, the whole conversation still largely frames the problem as something that happens between adults. Children also experience violence in the home and it is time they were given a greater stake when reporting on and considering the issue of family violence. This issue is deeply personal for me. My first memory when I was three years old is of being hit by my father after he discovered the label from a box of tic tacs I had stuck to […]
Fingers crossed for the digital archive The times we’re living in seem like an Age of Exposure—exposure of, exposure to. But if our digital lives were to disappear, so little record might survive of this moment in time as to make it seem, to anyone looking back, like a new Dark Age. The traces of our times, of us—our images, our words—we blithely consign to safekeeping in strings of 0s and 1s. Yet digital data is vulnerable. Whatever the hardware or software or the imagined sanctity of the ‘cloud’, its eventual failure is all but guaranteed. The same was doubtless […]
Australia is defined for me through its landscape. My first memories are of a country town crouched at the edge of mountains, a mighty river, the mysterious ‘outback’ somewhere beyond.
In the late 1990s I had a vivid dream about my old street in Glenroy where I grew up. In the dream my father (who is now dead), my mother and I were standing on the street, pausing in front of a vacant paddock and staring at the swaying grass. I knew, the way we know things in dreams, that it was summer. That it was a Saturday night in 1957 and from the colour of the sky that it was early evening. We all had our best clothes on: my father in a starched, white shirt, my mother in […]
Towards the end of last century between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, Channel Nine broadcast a television show called Hey Hey, It’s Saturday. It was a peculiar show, featuring a genial host, an ostrich puppet, an unseen voice-over man, a hat on a stick, a band, singers and entertainers and a range of fun games and segments. One of the segments was the Great Aussie Joke. Shane Bourne and Maurie Fields would tell jokes sent in by viewers: Little Johnny is sitting in the gutter. He’s playing with a bottle. The local priest walks by and says, […]
The Art of Confessional Writing Walking home down George Street, in Fitzroy, last year, I saw a front window of a former shop, now a private residence, covered in hand-written notes. On the door were instructions: Pssss! Tell us your secret. Have something you need to get off your chest? Something to say, but you can’t? Write it down and put it through our door. We’ll post it in our window. No names please. The window was filled from top to bottom with scrap notes such as these: ‘Everyone thinks I’m cute, but won’t fuck me’; ‘My sister walks […]
It’s not that I fear death; I fear it as little as to drink a cup of tea. —Ned Kelly In one of my early roles as a newly minted Australian helper, I worked as a counsellor with people in law enforcement. On my first day in the job, I set the room up with lights garnered from the store of unused furnishings on the witness-protection floor and waited to see who might come through the door. The biggest part of my job turned out to be talking about such things as: it isn’t dangerous to cry; and accepting death […]
Our vision is continually active, continually moving, continually holding things in a circle around itself, constituting what is present to us as we are. —John Berger, Ways of Seeing At the age of 50, I am going to a life drawing class. I have had the desire to do so for a long time but I am terrified. It is an untutored class at 6.15 on a Wednesday night. You can turn up without notice and this gives me the possibility of an out. In the hours beforehand my mind attempts to trick me: dishes up to the ceiling, […]
‘Sometime around 1932, when she was about four, she remembers the coming of the welfare men. Her family had feared that day and had dug holes in the creek bank where the children could run and hide…The kids were found; they ran for their mothers screaming but they could not get away…Tears flowing, her mum tried clinging to the sides of the truck as her children were taken away… Nanna Fejo never saw her mother again.’ —Kevin Rudd, National Apology to the Stolen Generations, 13 February 2008 There are high steel gates at the back of Parliament House, usually […]
There were settled people here when Cook claimed the continent. We are still here, have always been here and are going nowhere.
At Meanjin we are privileged to publish essays by some of Australia’s finest thinkers. Narrowing them down to this few finest has been a challenge. 2017 was an exceptional time for prophetic writing…
A week after the fire I drove with Chris along a ridge, heading towards whatever might remain of his home. It was a clear and cool morning. Everything around us had been reduced to stumps of charcoal or the skeletal remains of houses, trees, farm sheds and machinery.