A couple of weeks back I caught up with an old friend. The friendship goes back a very long time to when we were bright new 20 yos. We were living at that two story unrenovated  5 bedroom share house at 40 Edgeware Rd, Enmore which is probably a many million dollar mansion by now. Back then it was a right of passage living in crusty old share houses in inner Sydney – how things have changed for youngsters today.

This  friend and I went to Japan once for Xmas. We stayed at another friends (of that time in Enmore) place in Tokyo who was teaching English there. It was a great experience being all together again and we shown around and educated a bit on the differences in culture. There have been many adventures over the years and it is a strong friendship that has stood the test of time.

So I was very excited to see my friend again. She was here in Sydney to do a presentation. She is a filmmaker and after we spent some time together catching up, she invited me to see the new media she had made. We walked down from the old stamping ground of our youth in Newtown to the Redfern Community Centre.  The presentation had an Aboriginal panel, as well as my filmmaker friend presenting to a group of Aboriginal activists. It was a big deal it was a full house with people sitting on the floor to pack everyone in to see the media and take part in the discussion.

So, I realise am this Caucasian who lives in inner west Sydney and does not know much about Aboriginal issues other than what is perhaps on SBS, and what is followed on online forums. I had watched first contact documentaries and was really disturbed about the challenges for Aborginal people the first people of Australia. A race of people who are the most marginalised and disadvantaged of all. It is shameful and what has happened in the past is human rights abuse. But being just concerned does not help them does it? So, there was my friend making media and doing interviews and community presentations that educates non indigenous and actually employs Aboriginal people in a job. Jobs equal opportunities.

Lately I have had the task of helping my mother arrange her will. A bit grim, but there you go. She believes that some part of ones estate should be donated to charity. She believes that in different circumstances any of us might need help. She herself is donating part of her estate to five charities. I share the view, if you can help you should help. Not that we don’t enjoy nice material things ourselves from time to time but there is a balance between looking after yourself and caring about others and bigger issues world issues outside of yourself/ your own lived experiences.

This got me thinking, I too would like to do something this year. Why not, parts of the world are in a mess, including here in Australia. Then I decided that this Xmas I would give what I would spend in Xmas presents to my family to an Aboriginal charity. It is important to make sure that the money is well spent and getting to the people it should help. Then I decided maybe I should give my friend the money as her company directly employs Aboriginal people in a job. So I asked the opinion of all of this from another friend who said “If the film company is employing Aboriginal people then your charity is VASTLY more effective in their hands than anywhere else. Employment in real jobs is their only chance. My general view is that charities easily become promoters or a cargo cult mentality that ultimately undermines the disadvantaged they seek to help”.

Took this information back to my film maker friend who also shares this view. She decided not to take my money because she has a production company rather than a org or a charity. She herself donates to different causes and gave me a short list of her favourites, which being the sort of person she is would be very well thought out. This is good information because there are so many charities and if I am asking my family to forgo presents for Xmas to donate to orgs, I want to make sure I had made the very best choices with the resources, like you do.

The film maker friend also suggested another thing to do was to go to Arnhamland myself and see the way Aboriginal people live in this country first hand, which I think I may do in the next year.

If I sound lofty or something along that tangent believe me that is not the intention here at all. I am fully cognizant that activists spend their life and time crusading for the rights of others and this planet and that is such an honorable thing to do.

This is who I have donated money to this year.

. Amnesty International

. Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontieres

. Australian Conservation Fund

. Touching Base

Thanks again to the escort community and my clients.

Not everyone does Xmas so I wish you goodwill and all the best of the season.