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Unfinished business

Aunty_Gayle by Belinda Mason

Photographer Belinda Mason’s stunning ‘Unfinished Business’ exhibition provides an insight into the stories of Indigenous people with disability. It will tour Australia in 2015. Visit www.unfinishedbusiness.net.au for details.

Aunty Gayle Rankine
“Our Indigenous people of Australia are 3 per cent of the total Australian population. But of that 3 per cent the last statistics reveal that at least 50 per cent is affected by some form of disability. So it’s very bad numbers for our people. You must remember there is no word for disability in any Indigenous language. So a lot of our people haven’t connected with agencies, one, because of colonisation and the fact that you have the ‘Stolen Generations’, it’s the fear of having a child removed from them and growing up institutionalised. I am extremely passionate about it, but now I am here, fighting the fight, fighting the fear, fighting the racism. We face a double discrimination. Discrimination because of our disability and because of our race. Racism is based from ignorance I say. But having a disability, you get a double whammy.”

Gayle Rankine is a Ngarrindjeri woman born in Raukkan on Lake Alexandrina in South Australia. She is the chairperson of the First Peoples Disability Network.

Aunty Lesley Flanders

“I have been a foster parent for 28 and a bit years. I am just taking care of my ex-sister-in-law’s three daughters. Penny has cerebral palsy. I looked at every aspect of what I can do for them before I took them. So within my tribe I am their mother. I am of the same generation as their mother and that means the world to me. So just teaching them to be strong black women is my goal in life. To be a successful parent. I have always thought that people look at the disability rather than the ability. I want to totally explore and help Penny with her ability so she can live a full life and never be looked at as a disabled person. I went into fostering because my dad’s eldest sister was of the Stolen Generations and we could never find her. So I promised myself that I would never have another child in the Stolen Generations.”

Lesley Flanders is a Gumbaynggirr woman. She believes that “birth children come from your belly, but foster children come from your heart”.