A to Z Challenge – L is for Lost

April 14, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Australia, Health | 9 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

There are some things about living and working in indigenous communities that are heart-breaking. During the time I was in the Northern Territory in the 1990s, there were two problems that were endemic.

Alcohol abuse was rife, and quite obvious in some places. Many indigenous leaders, along with government and welfare organisations, decided that one way to attack the problem was to make a rule declaring their communities “dry”. That meant no alcohol could be brought into or consumed within the community and a defined area around it.

In a lot of communities, it didn’t work, and ‘grog’ runners made a fortune bringing in illicit liquor at highly inflated prices.

A second scourge in some places was petrol sniffing. This was mostly among youngsters and young men and women, who got some sort of high from sniffing leaded petrol. There were kids as young as seven or eight with brain damage as a result – but the damage was done to the older ones as well.

I wrote this poem after I left the N.T., when  I’d heard about more problems with alcohol and petrol.

Lost Generations

He awakens in his bed of rags

by his brother down the creek.

Just seven and ten years old they are,

with a life that’s cold and bleak.

Their parents lost in grog’s embrace

are hardly ever seen;

the boys once better off that way

than being victims in between

periods of sanity

glimpses of lucidity



They feel no hunger pangs although

no food they’ve seen for days,

for they’re caught in another hell

that leaves them in a haze,

wiping out their intellect,

emotion – caring – being

a can of petrol all they want,

vacant eyes no longer seeing

periods of sanity

glimpses of lucidity



Linda Visman


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  1. So sad. What can be done? It seems everything tried by each successive government fails and no one can agree what is the right thing to do. Now ice is the new scourge for all Australians. I just think how lucky I am that I grew up in a loving, caring family.

    • Yes, tragic, Linda. We were fortunate weren’t we! I count my luck stars that I also come from and also still have a great family.

  2. Yes, this is terribly sad, Linda. In the United States, too, alcoholism is rife in Native American communities. One of the most devastating books I’ve ever read is The Broken Cord, by Michael Dorris, about a by he adopted with foetal alcohol syndrome. Once the damage is done, it’s permanent.

  3. The jump from a life with the land to a western “advanced” one is too big a jump for many traditional tribes around the world. It is all the worse that it is the young generations who pay the biggest price. Look at all the young juveniles in jail, with no education, and no support systems to help them adjust to their new world.

    • That is all true, Paul. It is hard to know what to do about it. Throwing money at the problems don’t seem to help any. There must be some way to bring out the positive in their lives and give them reasons to want to live a -productive life.

  4. It’s a story that owes little to geography, because you can find such communities anywhere in the Western world, I believe. They are futureless and they are bored. Do we really want to do something about it? If we were less po-faced about imposing our own society’s disciplines upon families accustomed to different rules and met them on some middle ground we might be able to make progress. There must be ways to bring young men into the world of work more satisfactorily: methods appropriate to us in the west do not seem relevant to ethnic groups from other lands. Our solid rules about employment need review – not to instill a regime of slave labor, but simply to make it easier for employers to employ. At the end of my working life I ceased to employ workers or consider expansion, simply because the rules were too exhausting, and the ‘big brother’ overview was too intrusive.

    • One would hope there is some way, Frederick. I just wish we could find it and then follow through.

  5. […] L is for Lost […]

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