Amid so much grim news, it is timely to also remember some recent wins. In the poem below, published as part of our occasional ‘Poems of Public Health’ series, Professor Megan Williams reflects upon new protections recently afforded the Gardens of Stone, on Wiradjuri Country in NSW, following decades of environmental activism.
She wrote this poem, titled ‘Is it a win?’, during a ‘Deadly Poets’ Society’ meeting of the Centre for Research Excellence: STRengthening systems for InDigenous health care Equity (CRE-STRIDE).
Megan Williams writes:
We had a win
Gardens of Stone might be left alone.
We are impressed
21 million-plus protected hectares of wilderness.
We have a need
Our ecosystems buckling under the stress of human ignorance.
We feel distress
Solastalgia upset homesick soullessness.
We are inseparable
Gamilaroi Dharug Gundangara Wiradjuri songlines and Country.
We are the wilderness
Centre our Elders and Indigeneity in all you do and be.
We are the owners
Not pastoralists settler coloniser convict landholder cow goat sheep herders, please.
We are the one
Who were here before and always will be.
But mandaang guwu thank you
Stretching the conservationalist actions of Myles Dunphy.
Professor Megan Williams is Wiradjuri through paternal family and Head of Girra Maa, the Indigenous Health Discipline in the School of Public Health, Faculty of Health at UTS. She is a contributing editor and Chair of Croakey Health Media. This poem was first published at her blog. Follow on Twitter: @MegBastard.
Breathtaking wilderness in the heart of coal country: after a 90-year campaign, Gardens of Stone is finally protected. By Hannah Della Bosca, a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, and a geographer whose work and expertise span generational coal mining communities, community resilience, and energy transitions.
Read more Croakey articles on the environmental determinants of health.