Casey is currently homeless, living in a state forest reserve several hours north of Sydney. His situation raises many concerns and conversations surrounding Australia's approach to Aboriginal rights, homelessness, mental health, drug use and the penitentiary system, but I won't get into any of these now.*
What struck me most about Casey was his honesty, his smile, and his passion surrounding his aboriginal ancestry. He connects with the land at least once a week, finding a quiet place in nature to listen to the sounds, to feel the trees, and hear the creatures. With knowledge passed down from his grandfather, Casey sits in the bush to connect with his elders, learning the ancient stories, seeking advice, and importantly, keeping the beauty of the aboriginal culture alive.
*Maybe I will a little... Here are some of my thoughts:
- Aboriginal life and tradition seems to have been almost wiped from the face of the earth. From my travels around Australia, I've seen nowhere near as many mentions of the Indigenous peoples that lived on this island for 40,000 years before the Europeans arrived. People like Casey here feel like they have some kind of ownership over the land they stand upon, and in large, I agree with them. I feel like there needs to be much more recognition of this ancient culture, and it can start with all us lucky people, living in Australia, showing our gratitude to the elders of the land.
- How are young people like Casey (or anyone) with mental health issues able to live on the streets? Regardless of whether it's safe for the public, what about the state of their own lives?