29. Ambulances at the bottom of the cliff
We have children standing at the top of the cliff on communities and lots of ‘ambulance’ services at the bottom waiting to pick them up and help. But what is making them jump? This is what we need to find out.
Richard Trudgen and Nikunu Yunupingu discuss the need to look deeper into issues of Yolŋu adolescent behaviour. They talk about the need go to the top of the cliff and find the real reasons why children want to jump. And it seems there are several reasons, many of which also need further investigation by Yolŋu themselves.
It seems many children find school an unsafe place where they feel bored and stupid because they learn nothing and understand very little of what’s going on as they’re not allowed to speak and learn in their own language. School becomes a place where children feel hopeless, worthless, and traumatised.
Then there is severe confusion about economics, where young Yolŋu believe all Balanda get vehicles, boats and houses given to them by the government. So they think their parents should somehow have the same access to these goodies. This results in parents being threatened, “No good gifts? Then we will sniff and cause trouble”.
Yolŋu children have also become convinced that all their cultural ways are from a past era that is no longer relevant in a modern world. So they tell their Elders that, “Your time is up”, and “We live in a new age now”. Some talk of “Going to follow the Balanda who have all the money”. Many government programs do have large funds, so sadly and unintentionally do take children further away from their poverty-stricken parents and grandparents, causing rifts in families and communities.
Now the young people are rebelling against their own relatives as well as the state authorities, creating a state of lawlessness, filling jails and taking their own lives. We need to find the real reasons why young people want to stand on the edge of the cliff and fall.


There are 6 stories in this podcast. Please see time stamps below-

  • Ambulances at the bottom of the cliff.        0:00
  • How can we help our children?       13:20
  • Young people push parents and grandparents aside.     26:55
  • Balanda culture Inderpendance Yolngu culture Inclusive.     40:08
  • “Gift us with good things or we sniff & rebel”.        50:33
  • Are Government programs taking our children away?     1:02:04