Message from Quenten Agius

“It was the year of the re-enactment of the invasion when the white man first came to our country. Something stirred inside me and I couldn’t rest for a couple of days. As we walked, we seen something that looked like a rock. I looked at the nephew and said, “Nephew, that’s a rock.” Black people can sense things and can feel things. He said, “No, Uncle, that’s a scull.” We both turned towards the sea and seen the tall ships coming. They were sailing past with their full mast out. They said to us we was meant to find her. She wanted to show herself to somebody. . .

There are many stories, dreaming stories, through our country. Stories have been told in a lot of different ways. But the old people say the meaning’s still the same. The dreaming stories I’m telling come from my mother. And her father before her. And his father before him. These stories, dreaming stories, of country – they have been entrusted to her to teach the next generation. All the next descendants of the traditional owners of this country. Without being educated in the mind, you would not know what the stories mean. Now my mother has handed the stories down to me. Now it’s my turn to do teaching of the stories down to my generation.”

(Quenten Agius)

Dreaming stories have to be passed onto the next generation if they are to survive. Indigenous people who have been cut off from culture, community and country, because of past Australian policies, are at a much greater risk of mental illness and suicide. Warlpiri elders are reaching out to those people, and to all young Indigenous people, with a new app designed to reduce suicides and build resilience.

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(photograph by Judith Crispin)

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