By Paul Stewart.
The Koori ``spirit’’ has made it all the way to the small East Timorese village of ``BALIBO.’’
At the house where five journalists were murdered by invading Indonesian soldiers in 1975 it gave my great satisfaction recently to place one of Aunty Jan Brown’s Koori `Sprits Of The Dreaming’, above the photo of my brother Tony, 21, the youngest of all the journalists killed.
Aunty Jan, a proud Gumbaynggirr woman, is a true and close friend of my family and her unique hand painted ``Spirits’’ are classic works of art.
She is also a member of the Aboriginal Catholic Social Service (ACSS) who run a Community Centre for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people who live in Western Sydney including the Penrith, Mt Druitt, St Marys and Blacktown areas.
This fantastic bunch of women looks after many people in counseling/healing and support groups or art and craft activities.
``We are inspired by the actions of Mary Mackillop and the way she just helped everyone. She was also a firm believer in all children learning to read and write which we want young Koori kids to do.’’
A few years back I was real sick in hospital waiting for a new liver and was the prayers and messages of support from the women at the ACSS got me through some real tough times.
Readers of the Koori Mail may now be familiar with the incident at ``BALIBO’’ in East Timor, as this year a major film about the event starring Hollywood star Anthony La Paglia was released too much acclaim.
Along with Samson & Delilah it was one of the big winners at the recent Australian Film Institute awards.
I was lucky enough to get a new liver and came out of a hospital to work on the soundtrack for the movie.
A coupe of months back we actually won the 2010 ARIA award for ``Best Soundtrack’’ album where I met leading indigenous singer songwriter and ex-Pearl fisherman Seaman Dan from Broome, who won the award for ``Best World Music’’ album.
This year I got to return to East Timor to deliver some donated guitars but I was determined to get one of Aunty Jan’s Spirits Of The Dreaming up to the BALIBO House which was purchased by the Victorian Government several years ago and set up as a community centre.
While in the capital of East Timor Dili, I met a group of blind musicians who were ``blown away’’ and greatly impressed and encouraged when I played them some of the music of indigenous superstar Gurrumul Yunupingu
What many Kooris may not know is that many East Timorese people consider indigenous Australians their ``cousins.’’
Their elders up there tell their classic song-line story of a huge crocodile that lived in the Top End of Australia.
One day it went for a swim and where it put its head up above the water, became the island of East Timor.
I have been involved with helping the East Timorese in their fight for independence for 25 years now and have produced four compilation charity albums for the mob up there.
Generous and loving indigenous musicians to donate songs for East Timorese young mums, war widows, orphans and students include Archie Roach, Yothu Yindi, Kerri Anne Cox, The Briscoe Sisters, Christine Anu, Black Velvet and Liz Cavanagh.
Many of these albums featured artwork designed by leading Koori artist Donna Brown, also a proud Gumbaynggirr girl.
Big thanks also to the crew at 3 KND (Kool And Deadly) in Melbourne, for all the airplay as well and to Aunty Jan for her DEADLY piece of art