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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 40 - 02 of 02 (Raw)

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Respondent Interviewer
IN 00:00:00 OUT 00:32:04
Trish FitzSimons
Julie Hill
Griffith Film School
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40 - 02 of 02
19 June 2000
Updated 15/01/10. Timecode from tapes 40_BC_SP Topics in Bold Transcript missing until 16:14:00:12 Like all it might be, you just ring … we’ve got our own support mechanisms amongst the mums and you just ring up somebody and have a whinge and ummm but then it’s all forgotten, like you know, you sort of talk to each other and all you need to do is have somebody to listen to you and I just realise what a great benefit that was to me.
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 40 - 02 of 02
Race Relations Women of Power
PTB Refers to Part B of Tape 40
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Julie Groves
Interview of Julie Groves. Part 3 of 4. Some signs of water damaged but footage generally ok. Transcript doesn't start until approx. 13minutes into the clip.
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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 40 - 02 of 02
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                                  19 June 2000
               Updated 15/01/10. Timecode from tapes 40_BC_SP
                                 Topics in Bold
                       I = Interviewer R = Respondent

Transcript missing until 16:14:00:12

        Like all it might be, you just ring … we’ve got our own support mechanisms
        amongst the mums and you just ring up somebody and have a whinge and
        ummm but then it’s all forgotten, like you know, you sort of talk to each
        other and all you need to do is have somebody to listen to you and I just
        realise what a great benefit that was to me.

I       That role of being both mother and teacher, did you take to that easily or
        were there difficulties in it?

R       Women/Work/Correspondence: Teaching Kids

        16:14:29:08     Ummm I suppose it was just one more thing and it was
        accepted. I didn’t … I had absolutely no training ummm and because you’re
        a mother teaching your child, you expect perfection from your child, so it’s
        sort of … I don’t think there’s too many mums that aren’t in that boat.
        Ummm but yeah I suppose because I started from Year 1, ummm everything
        had to mesh around it ummm and you just had, my day is just set up, like for
        fifteen-and-a-half years now you sort of turn the radio on and you listen to
        notices and then you sort out your … you sort of start school at eight o’clock.
        No matter what happens the child is at that desk and I think that just has to
        be, no matter what happens later on, but no as a mum it’s not easy. There’s a
        hell of a lot of tears go into it. Tears with your child, tears from you. You
        question yourself, you question your ability. I’m lucky with the husband I’ve
        got, he ummm yeah, if I’m sort of screaming too much, he’ll come in and let
        me know ahhh and because he’s been through it, he’s sort of also seeing it
        through, I suppose for him, through his mother’s eyes, and the frustrations.
        But he’ll also come in and he’ll cook a meal, you know, he’ll just come in
        sort of different times and you know sort of cook lunch or say, ‘Well I’ve
        thought of something to cook for tea tonight’ and he’ll do it. So I have been
        really lucky like that. But people would come into my house and this is
    probably the tidiest it’s ever been because things just get saved up for the
    holidays ummm and that, and that’s when you sort of catch up on you know
    you sort of throw everything in a box and you sort it out in the holidays sort
    of thing. If the cobwebs are there, well, if you don’t get time to do them,
    they get there and you’ve probably got dirty windows and everything else,
    but just as long as the floor’s clean and there’s enough clothes and food
    ummm but, yeah, so it’s definitely not easy.

I   How about the curriculum? Have you ever had parts of the curriculum that
    have been sent to you that you haven’t been happy with?

R   16:16:49:06    Yes.     Ummm we’re sort of as parents we’re sort of … I
    suppose you’re that involved with your children’s education, we have
    questioned it. Ummm when they rewrote papers, we sort of had input ummm
    or not sort of actually the curriculum part, just the time it’s taken, because
    ummm sometimes they just take that long to work that the children just
    haven’t got a hope of coping and, to me, it’s sad because our kids are under
    pressure. We’ve got them under pressure and nobody’s got, because we’re
    not trained teachers, we’ve got no idea that there’s too big a workload on the
    children and that filters down that gradually, as the mums say we can’t cope,
    well then they come in and our school actually takes ummm part out of it to
    try and let them, because we work in a two-week cycle. But, yeah, some of
    the content ummm you know sort of the community that my children have to
    live in, there’s some of the content that ummm no, I don’t teach because I
    don’t agree with what they’re teaching.

I   Could you give me an example of that? I’m interested in the example we
    discussed last night.

R   Race Relations/History/Education

    16:18:11:13    Ummm yeah, my children grow up, have lived with
    Aboriginal children. Ummm to me, my upbringing and my husband, it
    doesn’t matter what colour your skin is, everybody comes into this world the
    same and goes out the same. We all live and breathe. And ummm my
    second oldest child, they’d rewritten the papers and they had a segment on
    Aboriginals and they sort of went into it, and he asked what an Aboriginal
    was and I had to tell him that his mates were Aboriginal and that really, that
    upset him because he thought they were the same as what he was. And he
    didn’t even realise that their skin was black ummm so that was how much
    notice the kids took and after that child, the next two I vowed and declared
    that I would never name an Aboriginal ummm because there were Aboriginal
    people come in and out of our family life. Ummm Aboriginal people I think
    the world of. I really admire them. But to me it’s not because they’re
    Aboriginal, they are a person. And then with my last child ummm in Year 5
    they studied Aboriginals for over six months and, to me, they were making
    out that they were a different race of people ummm they were sort of creating
    segregation and all sort of all the talk of ummm sort of resolving our
    differences and everything, to me, I could see it splitting our little community
    and making one race of people seem different to another. So I know I wasn’t
    the only mother that was concerned. Ummm there were mothers from all
    different areas because there’s Aboriginals in all our little towns, like larger
    country towns as well as our small towns, and stuff was … mothers were
    taking stuff out of the paper ummm yeah, and I will admit I cut stuff out and
    I put a note to my teacher and explained that my child lived in a community
    with Aboriginal children and she was reared to believe that neither child was
    any different. She was friends with them and that was the way I wanted it to
    stay and I refused to teach that they were different to her. 16:20:44:10

I   And the stuff that you found problematic, did you feel like it was idealising
    Aboriginal people or portraying them negatively?          What was it in the
    curriculum that upset you and upset your child?

R   16:20:57:12    It wasn’t negative. To be quite honest, the child just got sick
    of studying the same thing, paper after paper after paper. It just kept coming
    up. Like there was no variety of it. Ummm I suppose what they were doing,
    they were ummm portraying Aboriginal people ummm like as in today, but
    then the child would sit there and watch a video and say, ‘Well why are they
    Aboriginal?’ because the person that they knew, they’re black, and these
    people weren’t very black at all. Like they obviously had white blood in,
      they were not pure-bred, and then they had a video clip of ummm a hunting
      segment and this eight-year-old child sat there and said well, you know sort
      of the old Aboriginals they sort of walked everywhere, they used a spear, and
      these people turned up to go hunting in a four-wheel-drive with a gun,
      dressed in modern-day clothes and that was to show the child today how they
      ummm how they lived a long, you know, sort of a long time ago and, to me,
      that was an insult to the people because like you hear some wonderful tale of
      some, you know, some of the droving trips and some of the achievements of
      the Aboriginal people and like their ummm just their stamina and, I suppose,
      things that aren’t recorded and yet the children were taught none of that. It
      was sort of, yeah, like in our home it just seemed to be teaching them that
      they were separate people.

I     Being divisive rather than inclusive?

R     Yeah.

I     Was there anything … I know there’s been drama in the curriculum in
      Brisbane about presenting white occupation of Australia as invasion, let’s
      say, rather than … was that any part of what was problematic? Whether one
      presents we white occupants of Australia as having originally been invaders
      or whether the land was empty.          Have those issues arisen for you in
      curriculum at all?

R     16:23:27:04    I suppose we’re lucky ummm talking amongst some other
      mums ummm we can look at what’s being taught. Ummm some of the stuff,
      I suppose, we were taught differently. I don’t think anybody’s ever got away
      from the fact that it wasn’t ummm, there wasn’t conflict but it’s still ongoing.


R     History
      16:23:56:14    It’s still ongoing in life today ummm in other countries so,
      yeah, as far as the invasion ummm it depends which side you look at
      because, let’s face it, like sort of the Aboriginal people come through from
      the north and they come here, then we had sort of Dutch settlements, or the
    Dutch sort of come in and like for centuries, just on the fringes, not so much
    in the interior, there’s sort of been people mixing in and my family didn’t
    invade and I can’t see why I or my children should be held responsible for
    something that, in that day and age, that seemed to be, that was the done
    thing. You know, we can’t change history and we have to take what was
    there ummm work with it, work through it and move forward. But this
    business of paying ummm you know if it was invasive and sort of paying,
    who do they pay? I’ve got a bit off the track here. Ummm yeah, because it’s
    not filtering through, it’s not creating jobs for our children. That’s not my
    particular children, but to me our children are the children in our community
    and that, sort of if it’s going to do good for those people and everybody
    mixes in together well, hey, we’re all the same and I suppose that’s the way
    that parents are … I suppose we interpret that curriculum as to where our
    children live ummm in society. Whereas out here they have to live with the
    children so we don’t teach any different.          16:25:51:00

I   Okay. Let’s move on to your political stuff. When did you start to get
    involved outside your family in political activities, Julie, and I’d love you to
    tell me the story of that.

R   16:26:05:10     Ummm oh, I suppose it all started ummm I suppose the basis
    of it was when my daughter come along. We were in Windorah and we
    ummm the centenary come up and we were sort of catering and that ummm
    and we had a committee. And the money that we made out of the weekend
    we wanted to … we were going to put into a park. Like we had a vision that
    there wasn’t a park and a park was needed and all we needed was some
    ground so the council sort of got a fence built around the block where the
    park is today. Ummm and there was a bough shed put there and we wanted,
    a friend and I, we wanted to sort of go ahead and put the money into putting
    trees and grass and playground equipment and somewhere for us to go with
    our children to get them away from the pub, because the only place to go,
    you had a lawn at the pub and you could go to the pub, I don’t know, to have
    a cup of coffee, and it was sort of like a gathering place, and we’d sit up in
    the bar and drink tea and coffee. So it wasn’t the alcohol part, but then we
    didn’t want our kids there. Like, they could play out the back but you
    couldn’t really see them, otherwise they’d be out in the street, and we just
    saw a need for a park and when we wrote to the council we were told that it
    had to be landscaped and approved and everything else and they pulled the
    fence down. In the meantime, the friend and I that were behind it, she sort of
    her husband died and she moved away and I was up here and I suppose
    things settled down for a while but then, I suppose, in January, I suppose you
    did a lot of whingeing and things you’d like to see, and in January 1999
    ummm we had, there was an announcement on ABC radio that the ummm
    Mines and Energy Minister of the time – it was a Labor government – had
    announced     that   the   deal   we’d   been   negotiating    through   Caplec
    which was the local electricity authority that covered our area, and they were
    in Barcaldine, or Rockhampton rather, and the head of it, and the previous
    ummm Coalition government ummm, that had been knocked on the head,
    that was to bring power into here, this area. And we were to run with ummm
    RAP power was the answer for us and …

I   RAP?

R   16:28:35:07    Remote area power supply, as in solar. And anyway, I think
    when that announcement was made, I’d had an afternoon tea here a couple of
    weeks before and, of course, everywhere you went power was an issue for
    us, and becoming more and more so, and I had about four phone calls from
    different women saying, ‘Did you hear what was said? What are we going to
    do?’ And there was a community cabinet meeting to be held in Longreach in
    two weeks’ time and the ministers of the Labor government were coming out
    and we didn’t, none of us had a clue, knew anything about politics, so said,
    ‘Oh, well, we’ll all just write a letter and tell of our hardship, how we have to
    live, and we’ll put them together and we’ll take them up’ and we were going
    to target ummm Judy Spence, the Minister for Women’s Affairs, because we
    felt that a woman would listen to us more than a man. We didn’t know what
    you did. I did ring up the phone number and found out that we couldn’t book
    a deputation with a minister. We didn’t even know what a deputation was.
So we were ummm put our, still collecting letters when we went to Jundah,
through Jundah.

Women for Power

16:29:45:10   There was nine of us went up and there was five of us in our
car and I said to the women, ‘Well, we’re going to have to have some sort of
a summary of these letters’ and gave somebody a pad and a pencil and they
were supposed to go through the letters one at a time and summarise them.
But people were shocked at some of the things that were in those letters.
Like, we used to whinge about it amongst ourselves but everybody was in the
same boat so I suppose we just waited for the government to bring power one
day. Ummm and the women got that involved, you know, sort of by what
come up in somebody’s letter and then … I suppose it was therapy for us in a
way, you talk about experiences. So the long and the short of it was by the
time we got to Longreach, we didn’t have very much written down for the
summary. We collected more letters. We met in the park about an hour
before this meeting started and we collected more letters and one of the
sisters had a computer so she was going to summarise these letters and she
sort of had a bit down and she sort of wanted facts like how far we were from
Longreach. Well that was okay but then sort of just the information on how
many people in our shire and how many places involved and families, and
we realised we didn’t know very much at all, but she put together a summary
and another sister was waiting to photocopy it, and we had to have it
professionally bound, so it had holes punched down the side and a binder put
in. So we sort of had three copies of this, so this is what we turned up with
but ummm two of the women went off to do that. We were in the park and
we had name tags. People were going to have to know who they were
talking to. And they said a name and we hadn’t thought of any of that, we
just thought we’d just have a name tag, and I said, oh, you know different
ones that … they said ‘What are we?’ and I said, ‘We’re just women here
and we want some grid power’ and we couldn’t put ‘Women for Grid Power’
on our stickers so we just had ‘Women for Power’.      And what I was told,
people kept saying later on, was that nobody knew who we were. Nobody
    knew what we were after. Ummm they just thought we were another power
    group that was sort of different political arm or something, and anyway the
    Premier went and asked one of the women you know what we were and what
    we wanted, so through that, we got twenty minutes with the Premier ummm
    Minister McGrady the Mines and Energy Minister. I’m not sure who else
    was there but it was all new, like sort of the bureaucratic officials with them.
    And we were asked to put our ummm point lightly and not beat about the
    bush because time was short. But that man did give us twenty minutes and
    he ummm sent us off with the Mines and Energy Minister who women had
    been writing to for years ummm you know, sort of with their hardships and
    that, and they’d get a reply back and that was as far as it went. But I think it
    was just we had to do something rather than write on an individual basis and
    our letters, nobody told any lies, they just … some of them haven’t even told
    how hard it is for them to live and the stories behind it and, yeah, I just
    ummm was spokesperson on the day and ummm never done any interviews
    before and really got thrown in at the deep end, didn’t know how you
    addressed ministers or how you went about it. Ummm and we had our time
    with Minister McGrady but didn’t feel that we were sort of getting anywhere
    with that and we had gone there to meet with Minister Spence and she was
    excellent, ummm sort of listening to us. Ummm we went to the Health
    Minister but didn’t get a very good hearing there because her mother had
    lived without power in the hills behind Maleny and said it was the worst
    thing she ever did was getting power onto that property. But I don’t think the
    minister in this day and age would like to live without power. But that was
    her opinion. Ummm and yeah, and we just sort of handed out our booklets
    and we thought we’d leave it at that and then it was sort of just on a roll. It’s
    just continued on, it hasn’t gone away, and people from all walks of life have
    just said, ‘Don’t give up’ and ‘Keep going’ and it’s not me, it’s the women’s
    letters that are just speaking for them. And ummm …

I   So going from that day when Women for Power was created, just tell me
    what’s happened since. So that’s a year-and-a-half ago, what has Women for
    Power done since then and have you had any outcomes so far from your
R   Women for Power

    16:34:45:12    Ummm yeah, we sort of got as far as … we’ve been lucky in a
    way ummm Federal government had a community, or had a cabinet meeting
    in Longreach and we got to meet John Anderson and had time with his
    advisers. Ummm we’ve sort of been lucky that the government has these
    things like the Coalition – Queensland Coalition – we went to Blackall and
    met the ministers there. It’s all really hard because we’re just a group of
    mums ummm that didn’t know what you did or anything and then, through
    Women for Power, it became not the power, we were picking up other issues
    in the community and you were sort of picking up ideas from the people you
    met with. And the long and the short of it was that I was encouraged to stand
    for ummm local council and was lucky enough to get on there. And, yeah, it
    was just sort of one step forward to just the things that we were picking up on
    ummm but you’ve got to get out of your area down here. The information
    and things we’ve found out and discovered, people aren’t going to come here
    to this isolated community really, and you know sort of give you answers
    you have to actually go out and look for them.         The power’s ongoing.
    Ummm we have got, or the minister’s answer is remote area power supply
    solar. It’s been here for nine-and-a-half years now, it’s worked for six-and-a-
    half. We’ve just about worn out a $12,000 stand-by generator. Ummm it’s
    sitting over there at the moment but just doesn’t work. It needs a major
    upgrade. It’d cost about $150,000 to replace.      16:36:32:00