Blog – words & images

Voluntary societies in crisis

A year ago I wrote (in Triple Whammy) about voluntary organisations in decline as members aged. Here I extend the analysis to other demographic inequalities and then look at their death spiral in more detail.

(1) Diversity and organisational health

There’s a tipping point in any group below which any minority begins to feel marginalised and above which they can feel comfortable, heard, accepted.

Let’s be clear: I’m saying only that being a member of a small minority, anywhere, usually makes life more difficult. (That shouldn’t be controversial.) What defines a person as a “minority” below is just being different enough that they don’t fit in socially. I’m not talking about active discrimination, but about mutual awkwardness or inability to relax.

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Triple whammy revisited

Here are three statements and a cluster of questions, all confirming and extending what I said in The triple whammy of an ageing boomer cohort and the need for generational change in voluntary societies, published here on this blog a year ago. The first has been edited from a local club newsletter (I have chosen not to identify the club) and the others were responses to my blog post.

Phil (Townsville) said…

In early 2010 I joined the committee of The Club as Vice President. Although asked about serving a higher office I believed it to be inappropriate for a Johnny-come-lately to do that: it might injure toes of longer-serving members of the Club. From the lofty role as our VP I moved to the role of Secretary in either 2012 or 2013. … Almost a year ago at our AGM I became the President. This has been an honour and a privilege…

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Singing the Coast: Masks, Mists, Mirrors, Maps

  • This is a reflection or meditation on Singing the Coast, rather than a review as such. It grew out of a short review I wrote for the Townsville Bulletin at the time of publication. I may have submitted it to an academic journal (I can’t even remember whether it got that far) but really, I wrote it for myself as a way of trying to make sense of a very strange piece of story-telling. I have posted it here on Words & Images because it connects with concerns about indigenous history and heritage in The European colonisation of Australia. A word of warning: it’s long.

Singing the Coast
Margaret Somerville and Tony Perkins
Aboriginal Studies Press, $34.95
May 2010

Singing the Coast attempts to preserve a specific Aboriginal vision and share it with white society. One of its two authors, Margaret Somerville, is Professor of Education at Melbourne’s Monash University, while the other, Tony Perkins, is identified as a ‘cultural knowledge holder and member of the Garbi Elders of Corindi Beach’. With the help of Tony’s fellow Elders, they present essential elements of Gumbaynggirr culture through stories passed down in aboriginal families on the coast between Nambucca Heads (NSW) and Yamba, stories which relate the patterns of their daily lives and weave them into the timeless presence of the country.

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January 26 – Australia Day or Day of Mourning

“What’s on my mind?” Facebook asks.

I’ve been thinking about why I am increasingly uncomfortable with celebrating January 26 as Australia Day.

My parents arrived from England as post-war migrants. Growing up, I felt little connection to Australian, let alone indigenous, history. It wasn’t my history at all, and no-one on either side of it was any relation of mine.

In due course, my brothers and I married Australian-born women and produced children. In doing so we acquired families with longer Australian histories than our own, going back in some cases to the 1790s in NSW, the 1840s in Victoria and the 1890s in North Queensland, all well within the period of the displacement of indigenous people from their land.

At least some of our children are therefore direct descendants of settlers.

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The European colonisation of Australia

This post continues a sequence that began on Green Path with Where did we come from? and People in Australia before Europeans arrived. Those two, covering the evolution of Homo sapiens from ape-like ancestors to the beginnings of modern history, fitted well enough in an environmental blog. This one, continuing the Australian story from 1788, is primarily social and political history. As such, it is a better fit here on Words & Images.

Much of the “new” history is disturbing but, as Alex Miller’s Landscape of Farewell tells us, we have to come to terms with it so that we can move out from beneath its shadow.     Continue reading “The European colonisation of Australia”