THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: What’s Goin’ On?…

THINKING - postThe week that was…

Have you ever had the feeling that everything you say is wrong?… That even good friends are focussed on “shooting you down”?… That once again you are being denied your own opinion/ your own voice?

The thought flies into my head re: a possible “persecution complex” then I crack up completely with remembering the old maxim:

“Just because you’re paranoid… doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get ya “

1511767

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Reflecting on matters grabbing my attention this past week I found my inner self wailing the words from the old 90’s song… “What’s Goin’ On???”

Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julie Gillard, has had two attempted leadership spills from the bloke she replaced and, on 21 Mar 2013, yet another was being played out. I kept shaking my old head remembering that only 9 days earlier, despite internal rumbling from within her own party, the Polls reported that her public popularity, and that of her government,  was on the rise again.

What’s eveb  more confusing/ frustrating is that this was brought on by a highly respect senior member of her front bench, Simon Crean.  As it turned out, the man in question, Kevin Rudd, decided not to stand saying he didn’t have the “over- whelming numbers” required… so it was very much a “Clayton’s” leadership spill.

Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. March 2013

Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. March 2013

Understandably, public criticism of our present Government is on the rise again… However, the level of argument/ type of debate has me thinking we’ve flipped back 40 years to when this audio recording was made.

Seems that in the rest of the world many believe we Australians have gone completely “nutso”… and I tend to agree. You can read about it HERE.

My beautiful mum...

My beautiful mum…

Enough said about all that shenanigans except that, at times like this, I miss my mum SO terribly.We’d be having great fun “chewing the fat” over this and she’d speak of similar manoevrings and politicking in days gone past and, like me, mum would have immediately seen how the really important “News of the Day”, was being overshadowed.  i.e. “The Australian Prime Minister’s Apology to the Victims of Forced Adoption”.

This LINK will take you straight through to the Video of the Apology by the Prime Minister of the behalf of the Nation.

Apology Audience.2

To read the entire ABC news item, please click  HERE

Monica Jones, a teenager in the 1960’s with her life before her…

Monica Jones c.1960s

Monica Jones c.1960s

50 years later Monica shares the pain of having two of her babies forcibly removed for adoption.

Monica Jones, 2013.

Monica Jones, 2013.

If you wish to watch that news report and/ or watch the video of Monica, and other women with the same experience, please click HERE

I wrote earlier about the “Magdalene Laundries”. Some of the victims, to whom the Prime Minister referred, were from these Convents but no all.  In mid 1960’s My work colleague, and friend Carol, was incarcerated in “Mc Bride’s Maternity Hospital” here in South Australia, and manipulated/ coerced into signing the adoption papers for her beloved little boy.  The pain never left her and I’m hoping that this public recognition/ apology helps just a little in easing that life long agony.  I also live in hope that David, and his mother, have finally become re-united.

How ironic that these upheavals were occurred on “Australia’s National Harmony Day”.  Mum would have chuckled about that too.

I happily leave the final word to the wonderful Corinne Grant where she advises: “How to Burst a Blood Vessel”.

Corinne-Grant.bio

My most favourite quotes from Corinne are:

“In the end, all that transpired was that a bunch of self-entitled blokes finally cleared out of the cabinet and left Gillard to get on with the job of running the country instead of baby-sitting their egos.

Who the hell did this woman think she was? Their leader?”

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Be sure to swing over to Julie Goucher’s Blog at Anglers Rest where she’s written a delightful “Thursday Thought” about Easter Bunnies.

Don’t forget that if you have a “bee in your bonnet” and/ or a happy thought/ memory that maybe does or doesn’t fit within the Genealogy framework you’re most welcome to share and I’ll put the link HERE  on “Sharing our Thursday Thoughts” for others to enjoy.

Cheerio for now… and may life be kind to you. Catherine.

CATHERINE.ME~~~~~~~~~ 

Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Australia’s “Close the Gap Day” and Constitutional change…

THINKING - Hmmm.cloudThinking… navel gazing… reflecting… call it what you like.  I love it!

From the time I was “knee high to a grasshopper” I’ve always wondered WHY? … asked endless questions and no doubt driven those around me nearly crazy, which is probably why I’d sometimes get infuriating answers like:

*  It’s  a wig- wam for a goose’s bridle.
*  That’s for me to know and you wonder about.
*  Just because…

As this blog is a legacy for my descendants, I’ve decided to start up “Thoughtful Thursday” posts to share some of the thoughts which have engaged me.  Maybe other readers will enjoy them too and may have had similar thoughts?

If you have your own “Thoughtful Thursday” reflections it’d be fun if you share and I’ll set up some sort of a link. How I would do this I have no idea… guess that’s another “Thoughtful Thursday” post for another day… but seems pretty “do-able”, I reckon.

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My thoughts, this week, have been flying around all over the place… hither and thither… and is why, despite having done all the research long ago, this weeks “Tuesday Trove” post was rather late off the “starting blocks“.

Australian Aboriginal Flag

Australian Aboriginal Flag

Then not so long ago it all hit me right in the very centre of my forehead and my thoughts focussed totally on matters to do with our original Australians. This was prompted by a FaceBook post from Lanie, the delightful niece of my former husband whom I also claim as my own. Up popped the following vid, from Lanie,  titled “Generation One Real Studies”

Aboriginal warning.vid

Ohhh… reached into my very soul, touched my heart and gave it a good old tweak. Of course the long term unemployed, and those who’ve grown un with generations of welfare dependancy, are stuck in a rut don’t know how to get out and need REAL training for REAL jobs, not these “mickey mouse” training schemes which “tick all the boxes” but are meaningless, useless and unfocussed.

Close the Gap

So me, being me, I went “a-googling” and was SO surprised to discover that TODAY, the 21st March 2013, is our Australian “National Close the Gap Day”

HOOLEY DOOLEY!!! … how come I knew nothing about this? …

Closing the Gap.

Then, a little earlier today this wonderful breaking news hit the media…  the South Australia’s Parliament is expected to approve recognition of Aboriginal people in the state’s constitution.

So proud, am I to be a South Australian on this memorable day. A bill to amend the constitution received bi-partisan support in the Lower House and will go before the Upper House this afternoon and is expected to be passed. The bill recognises past injustices and acknowledges Aboriginal people as the traditional owners and occupiers of South Australia. Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Ian Hunter, says the change is long overdue.

“For too long, our foundation document, our South Australian constitution was a blank canvas in terms of mentioning Aboriginal South Australians. It had no recognition of them and paid no respect to them whatsoever.”

Aboriginal leader and convenor of an advisory panel on the bill, Professor Peter Buckskin, says the amendment acknowledges that Indigenous people were dispossessed of their land.

Professor Peter Bucksin

Professor Peter Bucksin

“There is now a new respect for our culture that has survived the 175 years of that dispossession.

This process has really been one of continuing the reconciliation journey. It’s getting more South Australians to understand Aboriginal culture, traditions and knowledge and our connection to our country, land and sea”

Here’s a clip of the wonderful Warrumpi Band with “Jailangaru Pakarnu” for your enjoyment and in celebration of “Close the Gap Day 2013”.

So, there you have it… my focussed thinking for this week.

Hoping that if this week hasn’t been the most WONDERFUL ever for you that you’ve got through it OK and have come out smiling on the other side.  Cheers, Catherine.

CATHERINE.ME

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RESOURCE re: Constitutional Change in South Australia.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-21/constitutional-recognition-for-indigenous-south-australians/4586158/?site=indigenous&topic=latest

Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

TROVE TUESDAY: St Patrick’s Day in the times of my Ancestors…

ShamrockAs the St Patrick’s Day excitement and celebrations  were coming to an end… the flow of green beer drying up and the green wigs shoved back in the cupboard to await their re- birth in 2014, I reflected on St Patrick’s Day past.  Despite growing up in a family  closely, and proudly,  identifying with the Irish Diaspora I have no memory of celebrating St Pat’s Day.  Curiosity aroused I turned to Trove for some answers.

Always fascinated by the daily life of my Ancestors  I’ve found Australia’s free digitised newspapers, on Trove, as a perfect way to satisfy my curiosity and have decided it will be fun  to share these discoveries with readers by participating in Amy Houston’s, theme of Trove Tuesday.

Back in Time

The first to catch my eye was from the Broken Hill “Barrier Miner” in 1897. After arriving from Ireland in 1855, as an 18 year old, my maternal Great Great Grandmother, Susan Kelleher Nicholls Rowen settled in the mid-north of South Australia. Thirty two years later, and 10 years before this article was published,  Susan had separated from her husband and moved with her children to Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia which is just over the border in the North East corner of South Australia.

What a delight to read how she may have spent St Patrick’s Day, as a 51year old Irish immigrant, 116 years ago.

Banner. The Barrier Miner

ST PATRICK'S DAY. B.H.MINER. 1897.re Adelaide

The first article to appear was in regard to the celebrations way down south in Adelaide, South Australia. The final sentence was a little confusing re: “no counter display” until I remembered that, at that time, in the South Australian mid north town of Laura my Great Grandmother (Susan’s daughter) was being abused as she walked through the town and called a “filthy Irish bitch“… mmmhhh…

The next article, also appearing on page 1, described the sports activities held at nearby Silverton. As my great great Aunt Susan’s husband was a manager of the mines in Silverton I expect the family living in Broken Hill and Silverton may well have attended these celebrations.

ST PATRICK'S DAY. Broken Hill. 1897

Twenty seven years later my Nana, Susan Kelleher Nicholls Rowen’s grandaughter  Elizabeth Mary Murray Evans Allan, had left her husband and three children in the mid-north town on Port Pirie and moved south to Port Adelaide with my Grandfather, Frederick Alexander Allan, and 12 months after St Patrick’s Day my mum was  born… “on the other side of the blanket”… so I looked to the Adelaide newspapers to see what was happening there on St Patrick’s Day 1924.

Banner. The Register

ST PATRICK'S DAY. Adelaide.1924.(1)ST PATRICK'S DAY. Adelaide.1924.(2)ST PATRICK'S DAY. Adelaide.1924.(3)

Clearly they celebrated St Pat’s Day in great style, in Adelaide 1924, and unlike today it seems to be largely a Catholic celebration.  My mother certainly would never had been included because, being illegitimate, was unable to take up the Catholic faith and would have had to listen to her cousins, who all went to Catholic schools, talking about their celebrations, dressing up, performances and parades. Must remember to ask Helen about it.  Now I understand why St Patrick’s Day celebrations were never a part of my childhood experiences.

Thankyou Trove!!!

TROVE

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RESOURCES:
 Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, NSW. 18 Mar 1897. Pg1.

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/44184711

The Register, Adelaide, South Australia. 15 Mar 1914. pg9.  

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/64206807

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Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

TROVE TUESDAY… of Washing Days & Suffragettes

Back in TimeAlways fascinated by the daily life of my Ancestors  I’ve found Australia’s free digitised newspapers, on Trove, as a perfect way to satisfy my curiosity and have decided it will be fun  to share these discoveries with readers by participating in Amy Houston’s, theme of Trove Tuesday

The plan is to select items at random from a range of South Australian newspapers, from 100 years ago, and have a look at what my Ancestors may have been reading.  It will be interesting to see what turns up.

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The Advertiser - Banner

Washing Day a Pleasure

Washing Day a Pleasure
12 Mar 1913. pg 3.  The Advertiser: Adelaide, South Australia.

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The Border Watch - Banner

Those Suffragettes

Those Suffragettes
12 Mar 1913. pg 3. Border Watch: Mount Gambier, South Australia.

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 map-south-australia

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Thankyou to Crissouli of “That Moment in Time” for the opening image.

TROVE

Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

The Year that was… International Women’s Year, Australia, 1975.

Wedding Day 22 Dec 1941. (c) C.Crout-Habel

Wedding Day 22 Dec 1941. (c) C.Crout-Habel

“Well Kathleen, you choose which one of them will go through High School. Of course Catherine doesn’t count  because she’ll just get married, have children and leave.”

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This makes my dad sound like a heartless beast but he was simply reflecting the social beliefs and expectations in our part of the world, Port Adelaide, South Australia, at the time – the mid 1950’s.

Women's Year. 1975. equal pay. opportunitiesFortunately my precious mum had ideas of her own. From her earliest years and right throught to her dying day mum loved books, whom she considered to be her “best friends“. She valued education, delighted in learning and always regretted that, despite gaining the QC (Qualifying Certificate) which was necessary if one were to attend Secondary School, the family situation required that she leave school and begin paid employment at about 12-13 years of age. So when dad presented mum with that choice she rebelled, challenged the social mores of the time and started working outside the home to ensure that all of her 4 children, and especially her only daughter, were provided with the education she yearned for but was denied.

Women's Year. 1975Trying to explain what it was like growing up through the 1950’s and 60’s, and coming into maturity as the second wave of the so called “Women’s Liberation Movement” gained momentum is very challenging. It was far easier to do a “wrap up” of the origins of International Women’s Day because that is “one step removed” and requires no emotional investment.

Personal experience, filled with all the highs and lows, the excitement, the hope and the opening of opportunities… combined with the personal conflict, disappointments, mis-understandings and outright nastiness which certainly was “another kettle of fish” but it’s a story that must be told to help the present, and future generations, begin to understand the ex-periences, and decisions, of their Ancestors which helped shape the world they now occupy and indeed helped shape them. I’m referring here, of course, to my children and grandchildren.

Women's Year. 1975. owning my bodyIt was a time of protest when more and more women began to challenge the status quo. It was a time of marches, protest, and demands for equal pay, equality in employment and education, free 24-hour child care, the right for women to control their own bodies, safe contraception, abortion on demand, and an end to both violence against women and discrimination against lesbians.

In Australia  thousands of women formed women’s groups and organisations and, through direct actions such as marches and demonstrations, women vocally demanded change to economic, political and social discrimination. Women’s liberation influenced women’s fashion, with women favouring the ‘natural look’, long hair and comfortable free-flowing clothes, including bell-bottom jeans.

In order to focus attention on women’s rights, the United Nations declared 1975 to be International Women’s Year and 1976-1985 to be the UN Decade for Women. On International Women’s Day (8 March) 1974, the Australian Government announced its own program to mark IWY.

Women's Year. 1975. reclaim the nightThe Whitlam Labor government, which had demonstrated its commitment to women with the appointment of Elizabeth Reid as the special adviser to the Prime Minister on women’s issues, allocated $2 million for 1974–75 and a further $1.3 million in the 1975–76 budget for International Women’s Year activities. A National Advisory Committee was Womens Year. WELestablished in September 1974 with Reid as convener. Its role was to publicise and coordinate the government’s IWY program, and to allocate funding to individuals and groups for projects that supported the three objectives: to change attitudes, reduce discrimination and encourage women’s creativity. The National Advisory Committee was supported by the IWY secretariat which was located within the Department of the Special Minister of State.

International Women’s Year also marked the debut of ABC Radio 2’s Coming Out Show dealing with women’s affairs. The weekly program covered issues of importance in the struggle for gender equality. Behind the scenes, the show was a training space for women in broadcasting, a place for skilling up and enabling women to take over the airwaves – or at least to claim some of the airtime.

To hear the Audio of the inaugural  ABC  “Coming Out Show” please click HERE

Women's Year. 1975. shelters.refuges

For this inaugural edition broadcast on 8 March 1975, reporters took to the streets to record some of the excitement of the International Women’s Day demonstrations. Comments from those interviewed in Sydney range from the chauvinistic to the evangelical, including a precious cameo from the late Bessie Guthrie who founded the first refuge for women and children in Australia.

Bessie Guthrie's house     - 97 Derwent St, Glebe, NSW. Australia

Bessie Guthrie’s house – 97 Derwent St, Glebe, NSW. Australia

Collectively the women driving these initiatives were known as the Australian Women’s Broadcasting Cooperative. The Coming Out Show ran for 23 years and changed forever the way ABC Radio sounded and the issues it canvassed.

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Protest March in Melbourne - International Women's Year, 1975

Protest March in Melbourne – International Women’s Year, 1975

As I said, it’s very difficult to explain to the younger generation(s) just how very different life, opportunities and expectations were for women “back when I was a girl“.

This video explains it far better than I ever could. Please click HERE  to view. 

The Women’s Movement, those heady days of the 1975 International Year of Women, combined with the many reforms of the Whitlam Labor Government, after a lifetime of a Conservative policies, all combined to provide opportunities I’d never dreamed possible.  Of course I paid the price with spiteful behaviour, attempts to undermine my confidence, my marriage and more examples of negativity than I even care to think about, but who cares??? … I certainly came out the winner which is reflected in the achievements of my 3 beautiful children.

Mum always said that it’s a parent’s responsibility to give their children a “leg up” that rickety ladder of life. She did that… I did that… and my children are now doing that with their own “chickadees”.  Life is good.

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RESOURCES & FURTHER READING:
http://australianpolitics.com/2001/03/19/womens-electoral-lobby.html
http://www.whitlam.org/gough_whitlam/history_and_legacy
http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs237.aspx
http://www.myplace.edu.au/TLF_resources/R2736/description.html
http://www.abc.net.au/archives/80days/stories/2012/01/19/3415303.htm
http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/international-womens-day
http://youtu.be/b0TgGb8f-SE
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Anne_Reid
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/guthrie-bessie-jean-thompson-10382
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/creating-a-space-the-life-of-bessie-guthrie/3218016
http://www.glebewalks.com.au/Politicians-Publicans-Sinners-14.html

Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

International Women’s Day… what’s it all about?

international.womens.day.logo.2After many decades of  celebrating International Women’s Day, and fully understanding its purpose and ethos, I decided it well past time to actually look closely at its origins.

International Women’s Day (IWD), held on March 8th across the world, is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.

Although much progress has been made to protect and promote women’s rights, in recent times, nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men. According to the United Nations (UN) the majority of the world’s 1.3 billion absolute poor are women and, on average, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work. Women also continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women worldwide.

Women's Day, Clara_Zetkin_Denkmal_Dresden

In 1910, Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. The proposal received unanimous assent from over one hundred women representing seventeen countries. Meetings and protests were held across Europe with the largest street demonstration attracting 30,000 women. The day sparked great public debate, and advocates drew attention to the absolute necessity of extending the right to vote to women to make parliament more democratic.

Women's votes

The very first International Women’s day was held the following year on March 19th. The March 19 date was chosen because it commemorated the day that the Prussian king promised to introduce votes for women in 1848. The promise gave hope for equality but it was a promise that he failed to keep. The inaugural event, which included rallies and organized meetings, was a big success in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In 1913, IWD was transferred to March 8th and has been held on this day ever since.

womens_history

The UN drew global attention to women’s concerns in 1975 by calling for an International Women’s Year and  held its first official celebrations in Mexico City. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace inviting Member States to proclaim a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace – International Women’s Day – to be observed on any day of the year in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

UNWOMEN.lofo

Since then, the United Nations Organisation has observed March 8th as International Women’s Day The UN considers the purpose of this day is to recognise the fact that securing peace and social progress, and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, require the active participation, equality and development of women and to acknowledge the contribution of women in achieving these goals.

women_india

Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nation’s women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

Indira Ghandi.

For the women of the world, the symbolism of International Women’s Day has a wider meaning. It is an occasion to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change.

women.worldwide

For newspaper articles which discuss the continuing challenges facing women, in 2013, please click on the following links:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/international-womens-day-has-yet-to-achieve-its-purpose-20130305-2fiv3.html

http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/1349889/international-womens-day-is-to-recognise-plight-says-ballarat-scientist/?cs=12

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jill-van-den-brule/this-international-womens_3_b_2828951.html

http://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/media/news/2013/20_13.html

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/this-womens-day-remember-fallen-in-domestic-wars-20130307-2fo1v.html

RESOURCES & FURTHER INFORMATION:
http://www.isis.aust.com/iwd/stevens/origins.htm
http://www.isis.aust.com/iwd/stevens/firstiwd.htm
http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/international-womens-day

Since 1999 International Men’s Year is celebrated on 19 November each year.

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Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

International Women’s Day: The Gender Agenda

A SILVER VOICE FROM IRELAND

centredinternationalwomensday“The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum” is the theme for International Women’s Day on Friday next 8, March.

The story of how this annual celebration came about is  so worth repeating as it is in itself a triumph  of ‘ The Gender Agenda’ and an inspiration to all of us girls who want to celebrate the road  travelled in our name, or raise awareness of  paths that still need to be trod on behalf of our sisters across the world.

From my blog of March 2011, to mark the centenary of this international event:

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in March 1911. It had its origins in America a few years earlier where women had come together to protest against poor working conditions, resulting in a National Women’s Day being declared by the Socialist Party of America. Subsequently at an International Conference for Working Women in Copenhagen, attended by delegates from 17 countries…

View original post 376 more words

Tombstone Tuesday: Your tombstone stands among the rest…

Lonely gravesites

“Your tombstone stands among the rest,
Neglected and alone.
The name and the date are chiselled out,
On polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who cares,
It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist,
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you,
In flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
Entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled,
One hundred years ago,
Spreads out among, the ones you left.
Who would have loved you so?
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
And come to visit you.”

Author Unknown.

(Many Thanks to Sandra Playle for the poem & photo)

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Eliza Jane (Rowen) Murray - (c) C.Crout-Habel

Eliza Jane (Rowen) Murray – (c) C.Crout-Habel

It took a great many years for me to eventually track down the final resting place of my Great Grandmother, Eliza Jane (Rowen) Murray in the Cheltenham Cemetery, South Australia. A desolate, lonely, abandoned place… caving in and with just a weathered flower pot bearing her name…. but as I stood there, claimed her as my own and took steps to stop her gravesite being re-cycled and desecrated, I knew that she recognised me and was pleased…We must not allow the sanctity of our old gravesites to be defiled…

Please sign this Petition so that, in time, the descendants of the Pioneers in those Graveyards which are now controlled by the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board of Western Australia , will be able to find them when they come… for they will come.

To sign, please just click HERE … many thanks, Catherine.

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Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel 

Reconciling Black & White Australia

Eliza Jane (Rowen) Murray - (c) C.Crout-Habel

Eliza Jane (Rowen) Murray – (c) C.Crout-Habel

I well remember the sob in mum’s voice as she spoke about how her Grandmother was abused and often called a “filthy Irish bitch” as she walked through the streets of her country town on the way to do the washing for the local hotel… with a child in tow and one on her hip.

My Great Grandmother Eliza Jane was a first born Australian with an Irish mother who had immigrated, at the age of 18, to escape the aftermath of the “Irish Potato Famine” into which she’d been born and had managed to survive. The family story is that her parents were told, by their Landlord, that at least one of their children had to emigrate or they would be evicted and so my Susan Kelleher, and her sister Bridget, headed for South Australia under an “assisted passengers” scheme.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that the following may contain names, images or voices of the deceased.

Part of my Family History narrative is also about the problems my pioneering ancestors had with “the Blacks“. Stories of how, as Eliza Jane would sit on the verandah of their modest homestead, whilst her husband was working away, with a babe in arms to try and escape the cloying nightime heat  and being terrified by the eerie sounds of “the Blacks having a corroboree” in the nearby creek. Added to this was her fear, when she was home alone, and aboriginal women would come knocking on the door for “tea and baccy” whilst their men were standing further back with spears in their hands.

So many similar stories peppered my childhood. Added to this is that my very first personal experience was when I was about 10 years of age an Aboriginal family moved in nearby. It was not a positive one. However, what is also very clear in my memory is mum talking about the Aboriginal families, who shopped in the Port Adelaide branch of David Murrays where she worked, and how they were the best “payers” and the most honest of their shoppers.

Inspired to paint the Playground equipment in Aborignal colours. (c) C.A.Crout-Habel

Inspired to paint the Playground equipment in Aborignal colours. (c) C.A.Crout-Habel

Of course it’s not surprising, given my family background, that matters of Social Justice were always at the forefront of my professional life and so was delighted to join with others in agreeing to “pilot” the draft Aboriginal Education programme in our South Australian school. The “lightbulb moment” came unexpectedly and I burst forth with copious tears on the realisation that my GGGrandmother, who fled her home-land because colonisation had dispossesed her Ancestors of their land, then became an instrument for our Indigenous Australians to also have their land taken from them.

We were taught how our Aboriginal people passed on their Family History in dance (c) C.Crout-Habel

We were taught how our Aboriginal people passed on their Family History in dance (c) C.Crout-Habel

It’s such a joy to remember back to those years when we happily worked to educate the new generation about the culture, the spiritual “dreamtime” and customs of our “First Australians”. We read their “dreamtime” stories, sang songs, cooked their food, experimented with their art work

How wonderful it was to have teachers and students from the nearby “Kaurna” kindergarten come join us and teach some of their language. e.g. the well known “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes” ditty but sang in the language of the Kaurna people. What a privilege!

To read more about this programme please click HERE

There’s been a bit of “blah blah blah” circulating and some very blatant racist comments hitting the airwaves, and social media, recently as a result of Australia Day 2013 which is so expected it just about bores me “to smithereens”… but am delighted that the Reconciliation Australia Blog clearly  describes how there has been a huge change in attitude with younger Australians which gives such hope and points the way forward for the continuing healing of our peoples.

Music and song has always been a wonderful way of reaching through differences, making connections and healing pain so, in closing, must share one of my most favourite songs… “My Island Home”. This is the original version by the renowned, and celebrated, Warumpi Band.

Cheerio… Catherine.

Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel