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Hope can be hard to sustain amidst the erosion of the world we love – Maya Ward

Some weeks are defining. Weeks when you get a sense that the world you know has changed fundamentally. They make everyday preoccupations seem unimportant. I remember feeling this way in Johannesburg on hearing of Steve Biko’s death.

This Hockey/Abbot budget week has felt like such a time.

The budget that seeks to dismantle the framework for action on climate change on which the future of each of us so fundamentally depends.  The budget that undermines all the values that successive Liberal governments have appropriated and codified as expressing what it means to be Australian: the fair go, mateship – all felled by the hand of Hockey.

This summer, on one of those hot hot nights, I spotted this little sign on Lagoon Pier, Port Melbourne and filed it away for a day when its message would be called upon.

Lagoon Pier, Port Melbourne

Lagoon Pier, Port Melbourne

Young people were jumping off the Pier as young people have jumped off Port’s piers for generations. This hope is offered to those young people sentenced to bear the burden of this punitive budget.  The generation of which I am a part, who have benefited so much, denying young people the opportunities we had while expecting them to support us when we grow old.  With housing unaffordable, transport expensive from places that don’t have work to places that do, with work casual and intermittent, education increasingly out of reach – the underpinnings of fairness on which Australia has built its story are completely eroded.

Maya Ward, who wrote these words so suited to this time, walked the length of the Yarra River from the mouth to its spongy source. She writes about her pilgrimage in The Comfort of Water – a deep reflection on relationship with this land, its original and continuing owners and the transformative power of nature. Time to take a walk to the river…





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