Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 19/7/2011

A couple of weeks ago the Men’s Resource Centre in Albany invited Julian Krieg from Wheatbelt Men's Health to town and he gave a strong talk about men and their risky behaviour.

During his chat Julian said that throughout his life he had always had a older male mentor, someone other than his father, someone he could talk to about his journey.

In my boyhood years that man in my life was my grandfather, a journalist and story teller, a disabled man who never complained, even when the fish refused to bite.

For many of my middle years there was no such man, but last week an old friend turned up in Albany and as I sat listening to him I was reminded of his intelligence and wisdom.

This is him, I thought, if ever there was an older man in my life who caused me to listen and learn. The funny thing is, he’s younger.

I first met Richard Walley when he turned up at a radio station at WAIT, now Curtin University. I was working at 6NR as an announcer and Richard arrived with his friend and teammate, Ernie Dingo. The two were regular contributors to an Aboriginal radio show and inevitably they were tossing around a basketball and tall stories.

We next teamed up when Richard was the master of ceremonies of a weekly comedy show at the Federal Hotel in Fremantle, a hotel run by Mark Manea, of the well-known Bunbury Maneas.

By then Richard had all the poise and confidence of a seasoned performer and he could tell a joke, a long story rich with meaning and a bloke to leave the premises.

During that comedy run all kinds of funny people turned up, Austen Tayshus, Russell Gilbert, Elliot Goblet, Peter Rosethorn and a few humble locals desperate to make their way. These included this writer in a trio called Off the Wall.

Through all this mayhem Richard Walley stood tall, humorous and dignified. The rest of us did what we could and there were times when Off the Wall had to be scraped down from one.

Over the years I bumped into Richard here and there and he always sat, talked and left me feeling warm, honoured and enlightened.

About six years ago we spent a few days together in Manjimup, during a cherry festival and it was over that weekend that I realised the man meant more to me than I had previously acknowledged.

Richard Walley’s CV includes a gig blowing didgeridoo at London’s Royal Albert Hall, an honorary doctorate from Murdoch University and involvement in the greatest modern Olympic Games in Sydney, but all this fades when I consider what he has given and continues to give, to his people, both Noongar and Wadjela, his country, and to me.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 5/7/2011

Makes sense, doesn’t it, to get the police out of Police and Citizens Youth Clubs.

What the hell were they doing there in the first place? I mean, why would you want the police mixing with young people in a safe environment where they can get to know them, build a relationship and be a mentor for those in need of one?

All right, according to reports, the cops will still visit the centres to run certain programs. That’s very nice, and in the meantime they will be patrolling the streets wearing their authoritarian hats plus full battle kit and intimidating young and old for minor misdemeanours.

But before I get carried away, let’s remind ourselves.

The first PCYC was started in Sydney in 1937 as an initiative of the Rotary Club of Sydney and the Police Commissioner, William John MacKay.

The purpose of the club was to provide a venue where boys could engage in healthy sporting, cultural and recreational pursuits and mix in a safe, non-confrontational environment”.

When I was a boy my home town Bridgetown did not have a PCYC and so I never attended a club, but many of my city friends did, learning to play badminton, table tennis and to box. Along the way they also built firm relationships with policemen who had a strong sense of community.

Let’s face it, if there is anything we need to work on, it’s a sense of community. As our cities explode and neighbours find less and less time for each other, community is what we need more off, not less. Having a friendly face stationed down at the PCYC, who happens to be in a police uniform, can only be a good thing.

However, we can’t stop progress and we must come to terms with the modern world and realise that such decisions are not made lightly, or by people on the ground, but by eminently sensible economic rationalists who have nothing else to consider but the budget.

It may well be a budget based on a very narrow view of the broader economic reality, but it’s theirs and they will stick to it. And they haven’t got time for fluffy stuff like community.

But, heed my warning, removing the P from the PCYC is just the start. Other removals will occur shortly.

Here are my predictions: The C will be taken from YMCA, the E will be removed from AEC, the D from the GSDC and the CI from the ACCI.

Finally, I know it’s frightening, but I do believe there will come a time, that in order to save printing costs and infrastructure expenditures, days will be removed from our calendars.