before you judge a person, walk a mile in their shoes
Last Sunday was world poverty day. More than 13.6% of Australians are living below the poverty line. One in six Australian adults haven't had enough to eat in the last year and 1.2 million children have gone hungry. Ref Anti-Poverty Week On Tuesday Pru Goward, former Howard era Services minister, penned an opinion piece that has been roundly criticised. In it she classifies people from lower socio economic backgrounds as dysfunctional and lazy. She further characterises people living with hardship as appalling housekeepers and neglectful parents. By contrast we want to share with you a story sent to us from a young Hughes resident. We have been asked to share this widely to amplify the message. We are proud to do so.
s I started my travel home from work in Haymarket yesterday, I came across two homeless Aboriginal men. One of them, who I later came to know as Kojak asked if I had any money. I gave him the only money I had, 15 cents. The other man, who soon introduced himself as Urunga was in the middle of drawing. I complimented his art, and he asked if I would sit with them so he could draw me.
Over the next hour, we sat and talked whilst Urunga drew me. I learned about who they were and where they came from, and they learned about me. They were two kind, gentle, and very funny men. I learned about their culture, their language and their families. Unfortunately, I also learned about the discrimination and hatred they feel on a daily basis.
“People will walk past and call me a black c*** every single day. And the worst part is, they do it in front of their children, so then their kids think it’s okay to treat us like that. I can’t help it, I feel so angry afterwards, I don’t want to feel like that”.
Urunga asked me to take pictures of us together and his art so that I could share it with the rest of the world. he wanted me to post about them and tell as many people as possible that having conversations like ours is important, that connection is a way to learn, and to move past the hate. This is a message directly from Urunga:
“to sit with an aboriginal artist will make you less wary, you’ll see that we’re not scary people, that there’s nothing to be afraid of. You’ll learn to see past your prejudice. Once I start talking about my artwork, I invite you into my world. I love to tell people about the Dreamtime. We can connect as humans over more than what separates us”.
Perhaps the most poignant aspect of it all, was what they said to me when I was leaving. as I was hugging them goodbye they said to me “be careful getting home, there are some scary people out there”. The awful thing is, many in our society seems to think they’re the scary ones. Urunga hopes that next time you see an indigenous artist or homeless person that you’ll sit and talk with them, and if they’re willing, learn about them and their story.
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Opinion Piece by Pru Goward : Why you shouldn’t underestimate the underclass.
"They are damaged, lacking in trust and discipline, and highly self-interested. But the poor are still a force that Australia needs to properly harness." Pru Goward Oct 19 Financial Review Reference articles: Pru Goward AFR column on ‘underclass’ condemned as disturbing and abusive - The Guardian, Amanda Meade, 20th October Anti-poverty Week