25 years with the ABC, 25 years in AustraliaPosted: January 30, 2011
I want to start this post by congratulating and thanking my father. Apparently, late last year he very quietly celebrated 25 years as a radio broadcaster with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. This was commemorated with the ABC Medallion, which I have now claimed as my own:
Radio broadcasting has been his lifelong vocation. Now an Executive Producer, his ABC service began in the 60s – he started out as a translator and announcer for the ABC in Port Moresby, before working as the Station Manager of Radio East New Britain. From there he moved on to the NBC (of PNG) upon its establishment, overseeing the commercial operation of NBC’s Kalang FM. After rejoining the ABC at Radio Australia in 1985, he became the first Melanesian to head the Tok Pisin service, and more recently was involved with the ABC International Projects training team in Papua New Guinea. Which, from the sounds of it, was an awesome experience: he got to travel to different islands, meet great people, impart his knowledge and put his expertise to good use, training provincial broadcasters in the ways of the then new digital recording and reporting. Also, I hear, good fun for my mother, who joined him for part of its duration in the capital, and thoroughly enjoyed time away from Melbourne and, more specifically, me. Whilst I run amok and turned the house over to illicit activities.
But I digress.
There are three people I always think about when I think about professionalism: my older sister, my older brother, and my Dad. I always feel like a bludger when I think about them. But my Dad was obviously the first model of professionalism I had. One of the things that I’ve always noticed and appreciated about him is how ridiculously hard and steadily he works. Too hard, sometimes, and he has suffered as a result. But he never does anything half assed – he always tries to do his best. I have enormous respect for this. Though I’ve fallen short of this standard in the past, I’m trying earnestly to emulate this characteristic these days.
My siblings have followed different career paths, but for all my rebelliousness, I seem to have inherited my Father’s passion for media, communication, and clowning. And he has an unrequited interest in writing and storytelling he will surely have more time for post retirement. I see good things ahead in his post-work work. My mother is an avid reader and very analytical, so a husband and wife team (her on research, him on the tech) could well be in the pipeline. I have everything crossed for them.
Anyway, my parents are getting older, as am I, so of late I have been thinking about what I’ve learned from them, what I’m thankful for, and all that. All this reflection and examination is being goaded by my documentary filmmaking project. In the workshops I have been involved in – which I have been thoroughly enjoying, despite having an epic stack yesterday whilst filming a scene during an exercise (camera shaped mark on my forehead) – we have had extensive discussions around all things to do with the Pacific diaspora – including how migration affects Islander families and identity. My family moved to Australia 25 years ago when my father joined ABC Radio Australia (there you go… there’s the connection to the previous thread). When we arrived, I was a blissfully unaware baby, who turned into a blissfully average Australian kid. But moving to Australia was a massive life change for them, and my older siblings, which presented lots of challenges I’ll be exploring in the documentary. Migration to a different country, culture is always an emotionally complex experience. I think it affected each of us in different ways. My parents grew up in colonial PNG, which was then administered by Australia. They grew up in a vastly different world to the one they migrated to in the 80s. My siblings were 15, 11, and 6 at the time. Their different ages and very different personalities meant that each has had a different experience and different levels of assimilation and identity confusion (upon graduating from high school, my sister opted to go back to PNG to study medicine, where she remains. Apart from vacations, she has only returned to Australia to live once as part of her specialisation).
The recent Australia Day celebrations made me think about identity and my family’s journey to Australia, too. I’m really comfortable with my identity as an Australian, and appreciate all the opportunities I have just by being an Australian. There is so much I love about this country, and those are the things I celebrate on Australia Day (slash Survival Day). Yet, I despise nationalism of all kinds. And I’ve been wondering recently why I feel this way: is it just because of an understanding of the lessons of history, and the dangers of nationalism? Is it because of my universal mindset? Because I value loyalty based on common values and decency well above loyalty based on national origin? Or is it, perhaps, because, as an “Other”, I must constantly travel between worlds, floating in and out of many, whilst not really sitting completely in any of them?
I don’t know.
I guess I’m going to find out when I finish the documentary. I may just end up with more questions than I answer. But I hope it will be a healing experience for both myself and my family.
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