Arts House and Campbelltown Arts Centre acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands we work on, the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples and the Dharawal people. We extend our respect to Elders past, present and future, while respecting Custodians of the vast Nations our digital platforms reach. We extend this acknowledgement to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, audiences and communities.
Crop mark design element
Crop mark design element

Assembly for the Future
– Beyond Whiteness – The Rise of New Power

Assembly 1 art work by Elliat Rich swirling black and white interlocking pattern close up

Futures generated by the Assembly

Provocation by Claire G. Coleman

Assembly for the Future: Beyond Whiteness – The Rise of New Power
By Claire G. Coleman

I would like to acknowledge I am speaking to you remotely from the hills near Naarm in the lands of the sovereign Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. The Kulin nation has been good enough to welcome me here, their council of Elders in the Kulin parliament are keeping their stories and wisdom alive for the future of this country and the continent as a whole. I am visiting here, from the distant Noongar nation, my homeland, the people of Kulin are our allies and friends. 

Knowledge sharing between the many nations of this continent keeps us strong.

I am going to tell you how white supremacy, systemic racism and the hegemony that those failings of society supported came to an end; how humanity finally realised that white supremacy was real and how it ended. I was there, and this is how I remember it.

People had been attempting to unpack, question and dismantle white supremacy in the Anglosphere for generations; since the days of European empires, colonisation and the racism created to uphold it. 2020 was when it began to unravel, when people who had never been the victim of racism started to understand that it is real, that true privilege is having the opportunity to learn about racism rather than living it.

The problem was, often, that people who had never experienced systemic racism did not believe in it or could not see it. They had to learn about racism, and sometimes refused to learn; while the victims of racism never had to learn.

But here’s where we back up a bit.

Racism in its current form, a belief in inherent difference between people of different skin colours, did not always exist. It was after the beginning of colonisation, when the colonial powers needed a way to determine who deserved power and money and who deserved, in their minds, to be enslaved, that superficial differences between people took on a greater importance. The concept of race, as we know it, did not exist until the late 17th century. 

Race, as we knew it, and racism, which needed the concept of race to even work, were always about power and money, about land and jobs and money, about slavery and colonisation and money and, when we thought clearly and honestly, about white supremacy. This is perhaps why the countries in the world with the worst race problems, with the highest tendency to white supremacy, the countries where white supremacists seem to lack the understanding of what a homeland is, were all colonisers or colonised nations.

It was a feature of 2020 racial discourse that people called for white homelands on land stolen from people of colour.

Racism was used to uphold the power of the wealthy and powerful; racism was a tool of white supremacy.

An analogy was provided by the BBC TV show, The Goodies, in an episode first aired in the UK on my first birthday on the 21st of April 1975 called “South Africa”. The black South Africans leave the country and apartheid falls. Having no simple way to decide who gets power and who does not, the government institutes “apart height” where position in society is decided by one’s height.

Just like in the real world where status was once decided by class, and then by race, in that Goodies episode it was decided by physicality. It could be said that the powerful find it easier to determine class using a physical shorthand; rather than a system where the powerless can masquerade as powerful.

Race used to operate that way, it existed to give a simple way to decide who is the owner and who is the slave.

So.

The People of Colour of the world – the descendants of slaves, the children of those whose lands had been colonised – had been aware of white supremacy for a long time; for centuries even… even if there was not yet a word for it, while the white people, supported, protected and privileged by the hegemony, refused to believe or understand that it even existed.

The people who denied systemic racism and white supremacy had a desire to do so. They had too much to gain, they benefitted too much from a system that defined their successes as merit despite the leg up the system gave them.

2020 was when it all started to fall down, when centuries of racism and white supremacy started its long, slow march to collapse. At the end, what changed everything was understanding, with the privileged asking, as William Foster (played by Michael Douglas) did at the end of the movie Falling Down: “I’m the bad guy”?

Like many cultural changes a lot of people were harmed in the process; many lives were lost before society found a new equilibrium. The times from 2020 were terrible; we must not forget the people endangered by the war and unrest that led to the end of white supremacy.

It started in the USA, the cradle of the worst of white nationalism (although it might be argued that the worst place was Australia where people could not even understand white supremacy existed; where people were as aware of white supremacy as a fish is of water).

It was impossible to be certain which police shooting, which iPhone video of a police officer killing a black man was the last straw in the USA but Black Lives Matter protests exploded onto the streets in fire and anger; the police, fearing their loss of power, perhaps fearing suffering the consequences of their actions, fought back.

The police were not keeping the peace, they became the counter-protesters. It was not long before the police and human rights protesters were on opposite sides of an undeclared civil war.

Australia, whose racism was unique and home-grown, borrowed its white nationalist rhetoric from the darkest places in the internet, from Americans who evangelised their form of white supremacy. With Australia’s far-right racists having assimilated American white supremacy, with some of them showing signs of having difficulty understanding what country they lived in, the need for a responsive Black Lives Matter movement in Australia was strong. In Australia, however, with the most endangered group being Aboriginal people you will remember the movement morphed into Aboriginal Lives Matter over time.

I was there, in the front lines. I was a witness. 

It was impossible to determine which was the last-straw Aboriginal death in custody; at which point the dam broke and the wailing of the Aboriginal people became the horror of everybody. The protests, particularly in Melbourne, grew into the hundreds of thousands, uncountable numbers overwhelming the streets.

In the end Australian Cities fell; the Black Lives Matter and Aboriginal Lives Matter protesters fought the fascists, the police stood between them when they could and business in the inner city stopped.

The United States of America descended into civil war, the police and much of the Federal Government against a loose alliance of private citizens and some state governments of some states that had decided police powers had gone too far. Cities fell under control of the BLM protesters and other cities became fortified enclaves with police arresting everybody they saw. The Black Lives Matter cities at first struggled to restructure, but, in the end, they developed a path of peace, where communities protected and aided each other, where consensus and egalitarian decision-making prevailed.

The far-right militias however continued to shoot Black Lives Matter protesters in the street. The boogaloo boys shot both sides.

Hang on, I need to back up and explain the Boogaloo Boys.

In the USA there were actually people trying to foment a civil war, particularly a race war. They formed a movement called the Boogaloo Boys after the joke title Civil War Two Electric Boogaloo, referencing the idea of naming a terrible sequel to anything after Breakin’ 2, Electric Boogaloo, known as Breakdance 2 in Australia.

History is not sure what they were trying to achieve; what a race war or a civil war would bring them; what they thought to gain. Perhaps they assumed they would come out on top; perhaps they just wanted an excuse to shoot people.

During the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, Boogaloo Boys attacked both sides in false flag attacks; shooting police so they will blame the attacks on Black Lives Matter protesters, shooting Black Lives Matter activists in the hope they will blame the police. Torching police cars and buildings to blame rioters.

To an extent they succeeded, despite some members of the Boogaloo movement being arrested they managed to hammer the wedge between BLM and the police deeper.

By 2022, the USA was embroiled in a vicious war. Australia’s government, being the only government who shared much ideology with the government of the United States, offered police and military forces to help the US Federal Government to regain control. 

By the middle of 2023 the violence came close to open urban war in the USA, becoming an embarrassment for the USA and her only staunch ally, Australia.

At the beginning of 2024 the European Union had no choice but to enforce economic sanctions on the USA citing their human rights abuses. Demands by the United Nations that the US accept peacekeepers from Europe were met with disdain by a government more interested in law-and-order and control than peace. What was left of the US economy was threatened with collapse; the money that had helped maintain power began to disappear.  

People already threatened by war started to starve.

Thousands of refugees flooded into Canada, a country that has always kept its borders open for refugees.

Only the United Kingdom, of all the countries in Europe, traded with the USA.

By 2024 it was only the USA’s veto within the UN Security Council that put them in a position to avoid censure by the UN. The USA, from its grandfathered position of strength as a permanent member of the UN Security Council threatened Europe with war.

The US, under President-for-Life, Ivanka Trump, was a war zone. The war between Black Lives Matter and heavily armed police and government forces, aided by far-right militias, was bloody and personal with families split along ideological lines. Most cities were divided street by street, house by house; although some states were “white states” and others were “BLM states” it was not always that simple. Deaths from sniper fire, knifings in the street, riots, lynchings, bombings and running gun battles in the streets were constant.

Eventually US democracy collapsed completely, rampaging gangs of what once were members of the police and military fought each other for supremacy and warlords took control of streets, blocks or cities.

In Australia there was nowhere free of racial violence. In the inner cities, hipsters, hippies and people of colour fought the police in the streets. Some small towns quickly became fortified enclaves, as the people tried desperately to keep the “wrong people” out. The populations of small remote Aboriginal communities exploded as the residents received firstly Aboriginal refugees from other regions and then later refugees from the wider community.

Roaming armed patrols from those communities were needed to keep the white supremacists out.

Melbourne became the most populated city in Australia by 2025, as projected. The people in the city, greater in number than those in the rest of the state, were horrified by the race hate elsewhere and voted in an anti-racist, socialist government.

I was there, in Melbourne, speaking and writing for the resistance, defying the death threats from the racist and fascist terrorists. I came close to death multiple times, but I thought it important, I think it’s important now, to bear witness, to speak for the resistance.

The Australian civil war disrupted what was left of Australia’s democracy; the toll on lives was unimaginable; thousands of refugees fled into Victoria, particularly people of colour who believed they were endangered by the racist policies in other states, cities and towns.

I was there, bearing witness, when the troops rolled over the Murray and down the Hume highway into Melbourne; when countless members of the resistance died. It was those deaths that ended the war. The United Nations would no longer sit back and watch. 

In 2027 the peacekeepers arrived in Australia from Europe, Asia and Africa to stop the ethnic violence. The governments of Australia fell, the warlords were besieged and bloody running battles between UN peacekeepers and far-right, identarian, white nationalist militias continued for many months.

Eventually cracks began to form in the forces themselves, police and army foot-soldiers despaired at fighting their own friends and family. The Police Union had been evicted from the union movement after their heavy-handed handling of the 2021 Flemington Riots and were left with no support when they claimed that the police were “just doing their job”. In 2026, hundreds of members of the police and army changed sides and the violence continued with military-trained activists on both sides.

Understanding dawned soon after in the minds of the police forces, that they had been used to oppress the people and uphold white supremacy. Teary confessions were televised and social media exploded with admissions of culpability. In the end it was those expressions, of the understanding that white people had not before seen their white supremacy; that taught us that white supremacy was real and dangerous.

Meanwhile the USA fell completely into chaos, a new civil war encouraged by police gangs and Boogaloo militants who were causing a war because they thought it would be fun to fight in one. The war reached that feverish place where even war-mongers thought things were going too far.

In the end, peacekeepers took the USA until elections could be held; elections won by an anti-racist coalition.

Racism and white supremacy had become too obvious, nobody could hide from it, nobody could pretend it didn’t exist anymore. Like at the end of World War 2, where the anti-Semitism that had existed for countless years became associated with evil and could no longer be tolerated; after the US and Australian civil wars, racism became intolerable.

It was at the end, when the world watched the USA and Australia being torn apart by racism, when Australia watched the damage racism was doing to the USA that everybody understood that ignoring or denying the existence of systemic racism is itself racism.

By 2028 white supremacy had become a fringe belief, the world could finally heal from the ideologies that had ruined so many lives. We owe a debt to the Black Lives Matter and Aboriginal Lives Matter protesters who held their ground, no matter how much danger they were in.

Now in 2029, we can no longer even imagine the racism we once accepted as a fundamental part of the human experience. Racism was a disease, hate was viral. What we discovered after the pain, violence and despair of the twenty twenties, with twenty-twenty hindsight (sorry bad pun) is that love and anti-racism too can be viral.

The racists and fascists, the white supremacists are still out there although now they are quiet. They went quiet after World War 2 as well, and they came back. We must remain vigilant lest they return to power once again.

Thank you.

Dispatches from the Future
These futures are generated by our Assembly #1 Future-Builders, cross-pollinated with Claire G Coleman’s provocation, stimulated by responses from Anne Manne and Ruth DeSouza and realised by our Moderators.

CONTENT WARNING Please note some of the Assembly for the Future written works contain references to themes including genocide, suicide and filicide and may not suitable for younger readers.
Welcome to the very first edition of the Murrnong Community Dispatch. August 2029.

August 2029

Welcome to the very first edition of the Murrnong Community Dispatch.

The Governance Committee thought it would be a good idea to communicate news, ideas and opportunities in this rapidly changing world we share.  We are also welcoming many new members to our community and hope this helps to ground new residents in our culture and practices.

We have also established this newsletter as we acknowledge a strong sentiment in our community, a feeling that we haven’t taken enough time to celebrate the big changes and achievements we have made together, as a collective of some eleven thousand people across this region. 

We have faced much adversity – the new forms of fire that started in the Fire Season of 2019-2020 that continue to ravage us, COVID-19 in all the waves we have experienced, and the steady degradation of our waterways and landscape through mismanagement and ignorance.  It took adversity to bring us together, but we are grateful that these catalysts have brought with them positive change. 

The Healing Ceremonies that began in 2022 were a big shift for us, starting the truth-telling and recognition of our shared past that we all so needed to start the healing for people and Country.  These ceremonies were a central element of our community’s growth and they are a regular and constant part of our calendar.  To find local healing ceremonies please connect with the Portal.

Another big shift for us was the Green Change of 2023 – where we welcomed many new community members from the cities.  As we all know, this has helped our region thrive, not just with the numbers of people now calling this place home, but also all the many cultures that have come to be part of our community.  The closing of refugee detention centres in late 2023 also brought a lot of new residents and we’ve become home for many more political and climate refugees since then – bringing new life and energy to what was once considered a dying region. Please visit the Portal to hear stories of our community or to share your story.

2024 saw the first meeting of our local Governance Committee.  This first Committee was formed from Mutual Aid groups established to respond to the many crises we faced and included many women, carers and people from diverse cultural backgrounds.  We all found this shift to local decision-making had a big positive impact on our lives.  It was also very welcome to have new voices involved in decision-making– such a variety of ages, skill-sets, cultural backgrounds coming together at a grassroots level to develop a future for our region.  The First Peoples Elders Council were crucial in framing the agenda for this committee – shifting the region from thinking short-term to planning for generations in the future.  Nominations for the 2030 Governance Committee are now open – please make your nomination through the Portal.

The Universal Wage brought in during the eleventh COVID wave in 2025 furthered the foundations for our new community structure – allowing us to allocate people to the jobs that needed doing such as Elder and Youth Care, Community Arts and Land Healing.  Of course, none of this would have been possible without the relationships that have evolved between First Peoples Custodians and the rest of the community.  One of our proudest achievements is the establishment of the First Peoples Land Handback scheme by our Governance Committee in that same year.

These changes have all been happening here on the ground and we have managed to survive and thrive but we have had some difficulty aligning our new system with the federal government’s representation of us. However, the new coalition government elected in 2026, under the stewardship of Penny Wong, has openly supported our new structure (and the structure of other regions who share this model) and we eagerly await the time when we can send our representative to Canberra to help us make the changes we want to our region and nation.

In the meantime, we continue the work of living respectfully on Country and through this, supporting our own survival.  Last month was a very busy time – we’ve moved into the fifth season of our local calendar which sees the return of the kingfishers to their nests, the laying of turtle eggs and the seventh burn in our cycle, focussing in on the maintenance of kangaroo grass and murrnong along the creeks and waterways. 

It was amazing – once again – to see small plumes of smoke everywhere as the controlled burns rolled out across our region.  We all know that this means increased safety for us as we come into our next Fire Season and that Country is being cared for the way it should be.  Congratulations to all the Fire groups for another successful month of coordinated burns and a very special thanks to the First Peoples Elders Council for sharing this knowledge with all of us. Express your personal thanks in the Portal or in person at your local community dinner this week.

The Land Healing groups are making incredible progress doing the work needed to care for Country as we have been taught and guided by our Senior Custodians. Each groups’ Elders are busy making plans for the next season’s work with their apprentices managing the workload of creating teaching materials and administering their activities.  They are moving as fast as they can trying to mitigate the many challenges on the horizon as we have already faced some heavy losses with patches of Country beyond repair. We are all very grateful for their continuing hard work which is so central to our survival on this Country. If you would like to change your job allocation and move to a Land Healing group we have two new groups starting soon on land east of the river. Register your interest in the Portal.

Take care everyone and look after one another. Fire Season starts soon and more severe weather warnings on the horizon – we all need to be extra vigilant and have our local event plans ready to be activated when needed.  Keep connected with your local network and stay safe.

Genevieve Grieves, Public Officer, Murrnong Community 

This future was generated by Genevieve, Joseph, Carissa and Tara

After Gil Scott-Heron, Remembering 2020

After Gil Scott-Heron, Remembering 2020
Performed by Eleanor Jackson at the Opening Ceremony of the Reparation Games, 2028

Ironically, the revolution was mostly televised,
Live tweeted and streamed to boot,
And everyone was staying home, plugged in,
Though nowhere near copped out, brother.

Though it took time, for the selves to dissolve,
The selves that blow the bugle or lead the charge
To seep back into the dirt and all its complexities:
The musty filth and loamy delight

From which we grow new shoots. Resistance
Sprang up here, there, everywhere, eventually.
Deep fingers of propulsive life shifted the locked-down
Land, creeping up under spontaneous orders.

Rhizomatically, we rose up, in a series of fits
And false starts that no one was really watching
In highlights or eleven o’clock news, but everyone
Was really watching because everyone was looking

Because the whole thing was happening, live. 

This future was generated by Eleanor, Elliat, Emily, Holly and Sam

Canberra People’s Forum. July 2029 Entry.

Canberra People’s Forum
July 2029 Entry

Reflections on a Post-Post-Truth Future:
The system relies on keeping us from the truth

It was the children who led the way. Of course. Kids have always hated being lied to.

In late 2020, the School Strikers for Climate launched a major campaign for truth to be told about the climate crisis in the school curriculum. Incensed by science classes which equivocated on the seriousness of the situation and cast doubt on proven solutions, they led a national walk-out under the banner “We don’t need mis-education”. Gathering in towns and cities across the country, they held “Real Science” classrooms, led by climate scientists, renewable energy technology experts, and ecologists, for themselves and their families. Demonstrating their deep recognition of the reality of climate injustice, they invited Indigenous elders and historians to join, leading classes on “Real History”.

Dwarfing the major 2019 rallies, this was the largest protest event in Australia’s history. So far. Not wasting the extraordinary opportunity, the students recruited tens of thousands of people for their next steps. Attendees agreed to hold “Real Classes” in their own communities over the weeks ahead, and to join the campaign targeting the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. They also took the “Don’t BBQ Our Future” pledge, where they would confront climate denial and racism among their family and friends at BBQs over the summer with messages about how those in power use misinformation to divide us and keep us down.

Things came to a head when, on the Twenty-Fifth of January, 2021, Sydney’s then major newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, ran their now infamous “What heatwave?” headline. The accompanying stories, syndicated onto commercial radio and breakfast TV, claimed that the Bureau of Meteorology was falsifying data and that it really wasn’t that hot. Despite temperatures across Sydney climbing into the high 40s, they said it was actually only about 30C. Articles, editorials, panels and opinion pieces encouraged people to go outside, go for a run, ignore the doomsayers and enjoy the good old Aussie summer.

In the days ahead, over 8000 people died. Hospitals still struggling with coronavirus cases were flooded with people suffering heat exhaustion and dehydration. Many never made it to the hospitals, dying on the streets and in their homes.

The school strikers’ numbers swelled again, including many who had lost their beloved grandparents due to the media lies, and they refused to return to school. A full 10% of students chose instead to split their time between mutual aid projects, caring for the vulnerable in the extreme heat, the curriculum campaign and a targeted “Don’t Fund Deadly Lies” campaign on advertisers to leave the Murdoch stable. The success of that campaign, slashing the Daily Telegraph’s advertising revenue by 35%, is now seen as the beginning of the end of Murdoch dominance. In parallel, the students forced Facebook to revisit its decision not to factcheck climate denial, a decision which was to have global ramifications.

Not many people now recall how pivotal to what came next it was that, tragically, among the dead from the heatwave, were protesters from Invasion Day rallies whom heavy-handed police had locked in paddy wagons in full sun. Across several cities, 12 people, both Aboriginal people and white allies, died on the Twenty-Sixth of January. Among them was a 17-year-old Noongar member of the Perth climate strikers.

The school strikers, devastated and enraged, formally expanded their struggle for truth-telling into a demand for history curricula to focus on the Frontier Wars, the Stolen Generations and the ongoing genocide of Aboriginal Australians. Working with an expanding team of academics who’d lost their jobs thanks to the Federal Government’s ongoing defunding of universities, several leading journalists made redundant by a shrinking ABC, and Indigenous groups including Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), the student movement’s “Truth Teach-Ins” became a focal point of the activist community. Many of them flowered into People’s Assemblies, yarning circles, and two self-declared Sovereign Spaces, in Narrm / Melbourne and Meanjin / Brisbane. In those spaces and elsewhere, artists repurposed statues of genocidal colonialists, turning them into moving memorials to the victims of genocide, and the victims of the encroaching ecocide.

The close cooperation between the climate and Indigenous justice movements sent the right-wing culture warriors into uproar. Controversy was never far away. Media attacks came daily. On several occasions, shock jocks actively encouraged white supremacist groups to invade the Sovereign Spaces, but the crowds were never large enough, even when silently approved by police, to seriously confront the supportive participants.

Things came to a head again on the Second of April 2022. Prime Minister Dutton, on the ropes after swinging from crisis to self-inflicted crisis, and holding off calling an election everyone expected him to lose, held a press conference flanked by national flags and senior Home Affairs officials, announcing the uncovering of a plot by the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance to bomb numerous polling booths in conservative seats on election day. While he was speaking, the army was sent in to clear the Sovereign Spaces, and, across the country, more than 250 climate activists, Indigenous activists, and students as young as 14 were arrested. If he had left it at that, he may have succeeded – we will never know. But he didn’t. Relying on the claim that WAR would be targeting polling booths, Dutton indefinitely postponed the election. Opposition Leader, Joel Fitzgibbon, gave Dutton his full support, stating that national security trumped democracy, noting that he was unsurprised to hear that climate activists were involved.

It was the suspension of electoral democracy which whistleblower, Jane Lee, stated gave her the courage to come forward, after a weekend of personal turmoil matching the public turmoil across the country. Lee, an Assistant Secretary at Home Affairs, revealed that the evidence for the WAR bombing plot was fabricated. It consisted entirely of statements made in assemblies by an undercover agent sent in by Home Affairs to foment discord. Phone camera videos soon emerged showing two cases where a man raising the idea in Assemblies was immediately excluded from discussions. Lee’s evidence was followed swiftly by that of two other officials involved in the fabrication declaring that they had done so in fear of losing their jobs, but that the threat to democracy was too great to ignore.

Uproar.

The Student Strikers and WAR called a general strike and the ACTU backed it. Friday Sixteenth of April saw Australia come to a standstill, with almost 15% of the population joining one of the 3000 “Truth Teach Ins” held in parks and halls, living rooms and Zoom calls across the country.

The Governor General, personally shocked by the revelations, received a delegation of cross-benchers and back-benchers, and agreed to immediately dissolve Parliament and call a general election. The campaign, with a start unlike any other, proceeded in a similarly unique manner, on multiple different planes of “truth”. The Murdoch press and segments of commercial radio and TV insisted that the bomb plot was real. ABC panels, carefully “balanced” by editorial, descended into chaos, shouting, and more than one fist fight on air. News media consumption by voters, as measured by ratings and exit polls, plummeted, with some 30% of voters saying they received the most trustworthy information for the election at “Truth Teach-Ins”.

The outcome was equally unprecedented. The combined major party vote, which had already fallen from 85% in 2007 to below 75% in 2019, plunged to barely 63%, with Independents of various stripes, Greens, and far right MPs elected to a cross-bench making up a full 35 seats in the House of Representatives. Both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader lost their seats to One Nation. After four weeks of negotiations, extraordinarily, former Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten declared he could command a majority of the House, between Labor, a dozen of the Independents and a block of wet Liberal MPs. In the Senate, a commanding block of 13 Greens, despite being locked out of government in the House, established a new, more powerful Committee system dedicated to truth and evidence-based governance.

Who can ever predict the moments that will trigger the greatest change?

It was in hearings of one of those new Committees, in June 2023, when it was revealed that the deal for the still-to-be-started half billion dollar expansion of the Australian War Memorial was made corruptly, including subtle but definite quid pro quo between major arms manufacturers and the Government. Reports from meetings at the time claim that attendees laughed at the idea that a memorial to the Frontier Wars might take precedence over displays of modern military hardware.

Remember the point in history when this was revealed. A point when it was impossible to ignore the fact that lies and disinformation had been blatantly used to drive us apart and keep us down. That the fabric of shared reality had been abused to build walls, to foster hate, to encourage violence. That untruth had been weaponised to drive us towards conflict and civil war.

Relevant, too, is that the Chief of the Defence Forces’ granddaughter was active in the School Strikes for Climate.

As the War Memorial controversy built, a delegation of Indigenous elders, senior military leaders including the Chief of the Defence Forces, school strikers and citizens demanded a meeting with Prime Minister Shorten. As a community activist and the proud parent of a school striker, I was privileged to be part of this delegation, alongside my child. Refusing to go to him, we insisted on meeting at Reconciliation Place on Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin, in direct view of both the War Memorial and the lake’s enormous jet fountain, which had recently been renamed from Captain Cook Fountain to Pemulwuy Fountain, for one of the earliest leaders of the Aboriginal Resistance. In addition, Reconciliation Place was hung with banners woven with the names of Aboriginal people killed in the Frontier Wars, murdered in custody, and stolen from their parents.

In an event broadcast live on the internet, the delegation demanded that the half billion dollars for the War Memorial be reallocated, to the support of veterans and other cultural institutions, and memorialisation of the Frontier Wars. But a full half of it – $250 million – would be allocated as seed funding to the establishment of a Truth and Common Future Commission. In a five-year program, the Commission would travel the country. Children, elders and artists would lead us in, creating a safe, generative space for everyone to listen and learn, contribute and participate. It would make all welcome, but would not shy away from requiring white settler-colonial people to do the hard work of acknowledging the systems of white supremacy we benefitted from, committing to dismantling them, and beginning to build new systems of equality and interdependence. As one of the elders, Auntie Bev, said, “Nobody is asking you to give up your privilege – only to share it. And after all, privilege is only privilege until everyone has it. Then it’s just life.”

What could Mr Shorten do but say yes? And history will thank him for it.

It could be said that that was the moment when everything changed. The systems of power and oppression rely on keeping the great bulk of humanity from the truth. Once we share in the truth, oppression cannot stand. And, as the Truth and Common Future Commission began its work, all of Australia began to share in the truth.

It wasn’t all an easy path. The Queensland Government briefly tried to stop the Commission from operating in the state, but uproar from the people and threats by southern governments to use the excuse of yet another virus outbreak to close the border soon put paid to that. The Murdoch papers screamed blue murder, but another targeted campaign on advertisers damaged their business so badly that several papers collapsed. Their columnists retreated to the darker corners of the internet, while independent media organisations, funded by readers, blossomed, as did “in person media”, where groups of citizens used public meetings and online platforms to discuss current affairs.

The “Truth Teach-Ins” continued alongside the Commission’s work. In their wake, communities began to firmly take control of their own destiny, setting up renewable energy cooperatives, community food programs, and People’s Assemblies. Thanks to this community engagement work and the fact that the messages of disinformation had lost their power, Just Transitions programs flowered, and communities in fossil fuel extraction zones swiftly shut down their polluting industries and moved proudly and confidently into a future of their own creation. In the wake of several horrific events where police cooperated with white supremacist groups in acts of racial violence, police forces first in Victoria, then in the ACT, and then remarkably in Western Australia, were defunded and replaced with community support and protection models working closely with the Commission and striker-inspired mutual aid groups.

As it’s easy not to notice what doesn’t happen, and the threat of misinformation always exists, it’s worth clearly reminding ourselves that four years of Indigenous-led burning practice has tamed the bushfire emergencies of the early years of the decade. And, of course, we have survived the five-year drought thanks to a combination of suburban permaculture and Indigenous-led regenerative farming.

And here we are, in July 2029, back in Reconciliation Place.

It’s spine-tingling to be here as Prime Minister Lidia Thorpe, Australia’s first Aboriginal Prime Minister and first Greens Prime Minister, leading the multi-party government formed after last year’s Federal election, receives the report of the Truth and Common Future Commission. As foreshadowed, Thorpe is today formally asking the Commission to continue its work for a further five years, with a mandate of working towards Treaties with Indigenous nations, and the reinvention of democratic systems suited to the new nation we will become. As one of the co-facilitators of Canberra’s People’s Forum, it will be my extraordinary privilege to be one small part of this next process.

They used to think it would take a civil war to get here. Well, we proved them wrong.

They used to say that truth was the first casualty of war. Well, we proved that war could be the first casualty of truth.

The old systems of power and oppression relied on keeping us from the truth. The new system relies on us coming together in a shared truth. How wonderful it is that our children led us here.

Tim Hollo
Co-Facilitator
Canberra
July 2029

This future was generated by Tim, Niamh, Zelda, Emma, Jodie and Tim.

A/Effective Rooms of Social Infrastructure. Dispatch 13.07.2029

This future was generated by Debris, Arya and Lex.

Dadirri and the fateful trajectory of 2020-2029, Conclusion (excerpt)

Jordan Lacey,
Dadirri and the fateful trajectory of 2020-2029, Conclusion (excerpt) Natural Economics, Vol 12, #3. 2059

It came to be that the power of revolutionary possibility, once articulated by human ideology, was actualised through the planet reassembling its equilibrium; that is, the possibility of revolution transmogrified from human intent to a non-human becoming. The year 2020 saw a rapid acceleration of shifting weather patterns and declining human populations—the trajectory to 2029 becoming a path of pain… But, 2029 also marked a point of transition; when human collectives that realised a social transformation was necessary for survival, began to emerge.

This trajectory is now perceived as an inevitable journey: a rebirth, requiring pain. Colonial structures tumbled due to a massive die back in human population numbers, caused by the ongoing dangers of COVID-19 mutations and the erosion of arable land. The once ubiquitous international supply chains were broken and those institutions that kept the capitalist machine running simply dissolved. Surviving populations realised they needed to take care of themselves. In the end these new communities did not emerge through utopian desire, but desperate need. The need to survive…

The failed structures of Capitalism are now attributed to a very simple driver: exploitation. Capitalism – despite its excessively complex systemics and vernaculars – thrived on this one thing. The Earth’s resources were extracted, without care. All colonial structures were built on exploitation – of the land, its animals, and human labour. New societies – collectives – have found a new way. No more rushing to work. No more competing to be number one. The rush to supremacy, recreated at every level of the social hierarchy, has gone.

The seeding of this new way is attributed to the great slowing down. It began with the lockdowns of 2020 when bodies were forced to re-entrain with the subtle motions of nature. Aunty Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, from Nauiyu country, shared with us a word from Ngan’gikurunggurr language to describe this—now part of the common tongue—dadirri: a deep listening to land and people. It began slowly. Watching the way birds search the ground for twigs and food; the subtle variation in the gaits of people walking past windows, people we never knew; the joys of pressing a seed into the ground and feeling the Earth’s electricity trickle up our arms; hearing our children play at home and the neighbours we always ignored. The spiritual skill of dadirri – inner quietness leading to new awareness – slowly took its place as the most important human attribute.

Through dadirri new understandings of care emerged, naturally – not as ideology. A caring for the land, for one another and for the self. The distractions of capitalism’s promises became absent: the rush of consumerism, now remembered as a dangerous drug, was suddenly unattainable. Instead, the new society of care provided opportunities to dive deep beneath the surface. A resurgence of interest in Aboriginal Australia followed: what does it mean to be Indigenous, the colonialist’s descendants asked? How do we go deeper into the land, and find connection? These questions led to journeys, both physical and spiritual, into the beating heart of Aboriginal Australia. Finally, white Australia reflects; without the colonial structures to support their economic and social privilege—their biases—they were able to hear the wisdoms of First Nations people. They finally started to listen.

Now, here in our future, the new rituals have emerged. Rituals that challenge those mental structures compelling people to exploit and hurt others. Through ritual, bodies have become entrained to the more-than-human energies of the vital Earth: providing a sustenance that capitalism could never provide. In the absence of colonial exploitation, which empowered people to see themselves as superior to others, human spirituality is thriving. Once more, we hear the land’s wisdom. The violent blip of colonialism has finally passed and the ongoing cultures of Australia’s First Nations have been propelled into new abundances—unimaginable to the perplexed inhabitants of 2020…

This future was generated by Jordan, Floria, Susan (Cohn), Sam and Scotia.

Memories of the Resistance: a living archive

Memories of the Resistance: a living archive
By Jen Mills
Black Rose Collective (eds),
Tharawal 2032

I don’t need to tell you what the war was like. You have the facts, the dates – treaties signed, sides taken. Maybe you have the wounds. I don’t really want to talk about battles fought and death and violence. There are plenty of images, films, stories like that, and I’ve gone to too many funerals already.

These days I’m more interested in the kind of changes you can’t quite see. As I get older, it’s these subtle shifts in behaviour that I notice, the way older folks notice the changed landscape more than younger people, and are a storehouse of memory as we try to manage what we have left: which plants used to grow here, how the river used to flow, where the old coal mines were and the poisons. The way systems change over time. The way that some things have to change forever, if we’re going to survive together.

It’s the little moments I remember. There was a day during the fires in Dja Dja Wurrung, a terrible summer. I had come over from SA on a strike team. Fire management was harder back then; it was a bit like the old approach to medicine, only intervening when someone was very sick, instead of doing all the prevention and care we do now. There were local leaders there, traditional fire management experts from the area, and they were speaking gently with the fire chief, and she just sat down with them and started listening. That wouldn’t have happened if the firefighters union hadn’t joined with the resistance at the start. The war had made comrades of them, and suddenly they could see each other’s point of view.

At those same fires, when I was taking a break with my brigade and getting a feed in the Jewish community centre – they’d cooked up a feast – I looked around to see who else was there. I saw hundreds of volunteers taking care of hundreds of other volunteers, and everyone with a role to play: farmers dropping off produce, kids running messages, medics checking for smoke inhalation, artists documenting the work. I saw two Black women laughing together, one in her firefighting gear and one in a hijab and a Food Not Bombs t-shirt, and I saw the country I wanted to live in coming into being even as it burned around us.

Another day I remember, I was walking along Karrawirra Parri with a friend when this scary-looking fellow, lots of tattoos, called out to her. She didn’t know him, but he gave her a massive hug and started to tear up and explain how he’d heard her poems on the radio. He said he’d never forgotten them. He’d listened in jail, before the justice shutdown. We all ended up chatting for an hour.

‘Those poems,’ he said, ‘did more for me than any program in there.’

And my friend explained how it was like a sickness, that it has to heal slowly. ‘I know,’ she said, ‘I was sick like that once too.’

I guess we’re all in that time now, where we’re healing slowly. From the war, and from the destruction we wrought on this land before we learned better (we’re still learning better). But like healing from sickness, it gives joy to all these ordinary moments. And like healing, you have to keep telling yourself there will come a day.

Because those days have come, and they keep coming.

I bumped into that young man again a year later; he was doing an apprenticeship at the Kaurna City Library. By then, the prison he’d been in had been knocked down, and they were building housing. A big new art centre too, with a new home for the community radio station he’d listened to inside. ‘Never thought I’d see the day,’ he told me.

It was very slow, but there came a day when white people stopped freaking out so much about facing up to it, when people simply stopped apologising for calling each other out. I was in the supermarket and spotted this woman with two kids in an otherwise empty trolley, frozen in front of the shelves, nothing there because of the shortages. I went over to see if she needed help, and heard her mutter a racist slur. There was a second white woman in the aisle beside her, in an AFL shirt – she was an Adelaide supporter, it was before they changed the name. And I watched her turn to the first woman, and saw that she looked just as tired. I probably did too.

The first woman had spoken under her breath; the second one could have pretended not to hear her. It might have been easier for both of them. But as I watched, the football fan simply and gently told her that what she’d said was not okay. ‘We’re on the same side in all this,’ she said, gesturing at the shelves. ‘We’ve got to play as a team.’

And the first woman looked at her, and instead of crying or getting angry, she just smiled and thanked her, like she’d dropped her keys and this other woman had picked them up for her. ‘It was careless,’ she said, ‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said it.’

There came a day when it suddenly seemed that simple.

There came a day when I asked a couple of Black women where they found support, and after saying they got it from each other, they could reel off a dozen other sources without having to think.

Just like white supremacy was everywhere, the water in which each of us sank or swam, dismantling it had to happen everywhere, in billions of little conversations. Of course, during the war, none of our conversations felt small. Talk always had a heaviness, with all that grief and trauma and fear, all that planning and organising. And it’s only now I notice the lightness in our interactions returning like sunlight; I can feel that a big shadow has lifted away. Like the slow and reluctant way that people recognised LGBTQI+ folks when I was younger, after so much hate and fear. These transformations were everywhere, and they felt impossible until they began to feel inevitable.

War seemed inevitable too, and I guess it was. I didn’t want to believe it; I fought for peace, like so many of us did, writing and agitating, marching and organising. But I knew all along that there could be no peace without justice, and those in power were stubborn. They kept refusing change. That’s what made it inevitable. I mean, they could have stood down in 2020, done some listening instead of sending in the riot police, and saved us all a lot of heartache. Instead they tried to save a bunch of statues.

There came a day when there were other statues. Other memorials. To the war we lived through, and all the wars, massacres and rebellions before that; but also to nurses, cleaners, teachers, volunteers of all stripes, and my personal favourite, the Grandmothers of the Resistance memorial, which involved a thousand artists, took three years to plant, and is quickly becoming recognised as one of the great public works of our time. They say it will take ten generations for all its habitats to mature, but the collaboration behind it is another kind of ecosystem, and it’s already flourishing.

I remember a time when my partner and I caught a train from our country town into the city. I looked around the carriage and saw members of the CWA, farmers, artists, refugees, tradies. Everyone was going in the same direction. Some of the kids my partner taught had dragged their parents along, and she stopped to chat with them. They had looks of wonder on their faces – the kids and parents both. It was the biggest Survival Day I’d ever been to.

Soon after that, there came a day that was Treaty Day.

There came a day in the time of mourning, when we started to laugh more than we were crying. It was sooner than anyone thought, because that too was part of surviving.

It’s just a start. Each little moment feels like it’ll never be enough, but they all add up. I know it’s hard work, fighting and healing. But there’ll come a day when joy as a form of protest, joy as an act of defiance and a means of survival, will just be joy as joy itself: the water we swim in, and the air we breathe.

Future generated by Jen, Mek, Meredith, Michael and Samira

The Moreton-Robinson Annual Address. Barak University BLAKFULLAS Campus.

DISPATCH
The Moreton-Robinson Annual Address
Barak University BLAKFULLAS Campus 

Delivered by 
Professor Zena Cumpston (National Sky Ranger Program)
July 9th, 2029

As we celebrate the first five years of the Barak University BLAKFULLAS Campus (Blak Lives And Knowledge Fundamentals University for Living knowledge Living culture And Solidarity), it is useful to reflect on our journey so far and to mark a path for our future. The events which led to the formation of this already world-renowned Aboriginal Institution were difficult and remain contentious. The huge loss of lives, violence and upheaval of the first part of this decade were traumatic for all. It is, however, important to acknowledge that these difficult times have also forged a path towards many gains, not the least of which has been the establishment and ratification of meaningful Treaty in Victoria.

After the significant loss of lives due to COVID19 across 2020, 2021 and 2022, the Aboriginal community found themselves in a rare privileged position having largely survived much of the carnage. Over time it became apparent that much of the reason we were able to navigate and survive the COVID19 crisis was a direct result of the efficacy of our grassroots community services which evolved from a sustained historical deficit in government services. Put simply, we’ve always had to fend for ourselves when it has come to empowering, protecting and advocating for our own communities. Our survival. Those who had, in the past, enjoyed almost unlimited protection and resourcing from the government were left completely vulnerable when governments repeatedly and catastrophically failed them. The wider Australian community did not have the means or networks to mobilise in the way Aboriginal community was able to.  

For us, as Aboriginal people, everything revolves around and is underpinned by our communities, by systems of respect and communal decision making. These core beliefs greatly assisted our ability to mitigate the harm as we quickly and effectively mobilised ourselves and worked as a community to meet challenges on every front. Conversely, the wider non-Aboriginal community experienced horrendous outcomes which can be linked, in part, to the very problematic world view fundamental to the capitalist structure at the core of their human interactions which promote the individual over the whole and, too often, effect a climate of privilege which promotes a disregard for the greater good. 

The mass deaths, the breakdown of government authority and the erosion of the capitalist system are still having widespread repercussions in Australia and across the world. But many new ways of being and doing have emerged as a direct result of this widespread chaos, and the establishment of BLAKFULLAS campus in Melbourne in 2024 can be seen to have risen from the flames of this devastating social and political landscape. 

When universities either frantically closed or spasmodically contracted, hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost almost overnight. Amongst the first to go were Aboriginal academics and staff members, the victims of predominantly insincere schemes to perform parity which had barely gained traction despite decades of hard work by many both inside and outside the Aboriginal community. In the absence of government funding, those universities that reopened did so with the ‘benevolent patronage’ of mining companies which had persistently shown a wilful disrespect for Aboriginal cultural sites. As the government pushed through laws to support their ventures, which were now almost entirely underpinning all aspects of the Australian economy, mining companies began to demonstrate a psychotic malevolence in their prolific desecrations and plundering. Aboriginal academics found themselves not only not being offered any work in these now (again) openly elitist, morally bereft and racist institutions, the very few who were offered work could not accept on moral, political and cultural grounds. 

As with all successful Aboriginal services, the BLAKFULLUS campus began with a small group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who identified the need to empower our communities. Working together to specifically mobilise the vast network of incredible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, researchers and support staff now discarded by the tertiary system, in January of 2024 the first classes began in Collingwood in a disused former hotel. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, not yet on the universal wage (not implemented across Australia until 2025) volunteered to teach courses in areas identified as potential boom industries. For example, Cultural Land Management/Fire has, since inception, had a 100% success rate in employment and is a booming industry largely as a result of the atomic bomb-like bushfires of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2025. Biodiversity management also churned out highly skilled First Nations graduates who had almost unlimited work opportunities due to the surge in rooftop gardens necessitated by the urgency in efforts to mitigate catastrophic urban thermal mass and the continual failure of electricity grids across every major city. Urban Indigenous Rangers proved themselves far superior in their knowledge and capabilities in this field and were highly adept in managing this new ‘Country in the Sky’ which saw more than 400 hectares of roof space in urban areas converted to green roof spaces between 2024 and 2028. The necessity of, and prolific boom in, rooftop gardens was also bolstered greatly by the inability of introduced crops and established agricultural systems to cope with dramatic climate fluctuations. Widespread food shortages necessitated the need to look to climate-stable indigenous plants and sustainable Aboriginal cultural food practices. Rooftops across the city now grew indigenous grain crops and the courses provided at BLAKFULLAS produced far superior graduates due largely to the on-Country learning from Elders fundamental to the structure of all BLAKFULLAS courses. With more students than could now be accommodated and with the introduction of the universal wage, it became possible for BLAKFULLAS to employ many more academics and therefore offer more courses. The Campus needed to expand.

Concurrent with the introduction of the universal wage, the government had been forced by the wider Australian society’s wishes to harness the opportunities which come from having to rebuild a society to enact the National Truth Telling Commission whose scope also extended to reparations for stolen wages. Companies (including many whose massive wealth came from the pastoral industry) were called to account for their participation in slavery. Forensic accountants worked with historians and others to meticulously pore over financial records dating back more than 180 years. Land holdings were sold to meet reparation orders and it was through one such sale in Victoria that the Wurundjeri mob received a massive payout (which was in fact only 2% of the offending holding’s wealth). The Wurundjeri community, acknowledging the work of BLAKFULLAS in providing employment and training for a huge number of Aboriginal community members (which was, and is, resulting in dramatically better health and equity outcomes) gifted more than half of the reparation monies ($80 million) to BLAKFULLAS and this money was used to buy a huge tract of land along the Merri Creek at Coburg. Starting in a shed as the new campus was built, classes continued and many more faculties were added. 

As the demand for indigenous grain crops grew the need to use old knowledge and develop new systems of processing for large populations became apparent and the Unaipon School of Engineering opened as part of BLAKFULLAS at the end of 2026, quickly gaining international attention due to its many successful programs aimed at empowering and illuminating Aboriginal innovation and sustainable practice. The School’s reputation was further enhanced when the now famous Pascoe Kangaroo Grass Mill was designed and patented by the inaugural class of 2026, and was adopted as the machine-of-choice for the production of the now-highly popular kangaroo grass bread, soon to be exported across the world. 

Central to the new campus was an extensive Aboriginal garden which provided on-Country learning for many of the emerging faculties, perhaps the most impressive of which is the Healing Centre devoted to training a new generation of doctors, nurses and health-care professionals. This cohort bring new hope in efforts to Close the Gap especially given there are more than 1500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students currently enrolled in more than 15 specialist courses in this faculty devoted to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The garden has also proved a valuable resource for the on-Country learning across all emerging faculties including the Agriculture Faculty (opened in 2027) and the Law Faculty (also opened in 2027) with the latter particularly focussing on the Intellectual Property rights of communities in relation to the pharmaceutical and food industries. 

As well as the industries which have boomed and been serendipitous to the strengths, interest and skills of Aboriginal communities, another huge aspect of the success and continual growth of the Barak University BLAKFULLAS has been the strength of the mandate on which it was founded. The mandate could be described as nuanced, extensive and reflexive. It can be best understood through its first two foundational principles; ‘When we look after Country, Country looks after us’ which reflects our essential role as custodians and ‘Do no harm’ which speaks specifically to the colonial history of knowledge production in the Australian context. Research has outlined the extensive damage this has done to Aboriginal peoples through not only exclusion but also in the establishment of many harmful ideological beliefs such as Dying Race Theory borne from the ‘work’ of academics that has dominated government policy since Invasion. 

The mandate of the Barak University BLAKFULLAS also, importantly, cements structural systems which reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, doing and being. All decisions are made as a community, with our community Elders providing guidance and support. Our teaching and research practice is embedded in positionality and works to decolonise knowledge production through empowering and resourcing our systems of knowledge. Whilst all of our academic, research and support staff and students are currently Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it is hoped that in the future we may offer some courses and opportunities for many of our allies from the wider Australian community, most especially as part of the recommendations made from the (National) Langton Truth Telling Report of 2026. 

Ten years ago, it would have been difficult to believe the journey of this institution and the empowerment it has enabled for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. We still have many challenges, including many ongoing disagreements between community members, but more horizontal systems of governance which are more in line with our traditional systems mean these problems are often easier to manage than they have historically been when we have been forced to work in western hierarchical systems. With our financial position underpinned by the outright ownership of our extensive campus all courses are currently free and it is hoped this will remain the case, especially as the universal wage has been guaranteed until 2070. There are plans afoot to open several more faculties and provide specialist training in several more areas. The gains in health and wellbeing through the improved employment opportunities of our targeted areas of learning as well as the graduates which are soon to enter mainstream systems, especially those related to health and environmental management, are a huge source of pride and achievement for all associated with BLAKFULLAS. 

We are greatly saddened by the many events which necessitated our inception but grateful that we have found a new platform to strengthen and empower our communities. In light of the incredible growth and productivity of BLAKFULLAS over the last five years, we look forward to the journey of the next five years and the continued movement towards a safer and more equitable world in which to be an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

This future was generated by Zena, Zac, Will and Dasha.

Australian Manifesto Design Project - Meeting Notes
The Centre for Reworlding, Umbilica homepage, December 2029

Please note this work contains reference to suicide and filicide. If you have any concerns, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

The Centre for Reworlding
Umbilica homepage
Posted: 18 December, 2029
Entry by Jen Rae

Today marks the tenth anniversary of our first formal gathering. We came together in mourning after the suicide of Marjory Jane Nichols and the tragic death of her one-month-old daughter Sion. In an act of desperation and love, Marjory starved her infant child of oxygen before terminating her own life in a bathtub.

Whenever a child is taken at the hands of their mother, speculation and rumours often point to postpartum depression, anxiety and/or psychosis. The mother is often relentlessly vilified in the media with intimate details of lives lost becoming fodder to internet trolls and story sellers. We knew a different Marjory than the one portrayed in news and social media. None of us knew her personally or could even point her out on the street if she walked past. But we knew her and her story through her writing as MJ in our private online mother’s group. We celebrated with her when she announced her pregnancy with a suite of ultrasound photos. We offered her anecdotes and advice through her second trimester to ease the common anxieties of becoming a new mother. We even sent a million love-heart emojis when she posted a selfie of her swollen belly immersed in bubbles in the bathtub…that same bathtub.

We won’t labour the story with details, except to add that in September 2019, her tone completely changed to one of dread and deep regret…’existential terrors’, she called it. Marjory repeatedly expressed profound sadness about bringing her child into an increasingly troubling world, the magnitude and ramifications of which she was only beginning to understand. News of the global School Climate Strikes and Climate Emergency declarations compounded by the catastrophic Australian bushfires that year were taking their psychological toll on this young woman. Housebound in another heatwave, cluster feeding Sion, she was isolated and glued to the television and social media. Many of us empathised with her remorse, acknowledged her pain and offered her coping and self-care strategies. We encouraged her to call the PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) and offered calls and visits. In between our own pregnancy and parenting challenges, we all took a measure of responsibility to check in with her daily, as her words triggered at some primal level what most of us were also feeling. Marjory’s last post to the group was a photo of Sion, where she expressed self-defeat in thinking a new world could be created for our children, when historically most revolutions were born out of violence. Her second final act was altruistic filicide before extinguishing her own.

The Centre for Reworlding was born on the 18th December 2019 in honour of Marjory and Sion Nichols. Our Centre is dedicated to reworlding in the climate emergency through commons knowledge sharing, radical empathy and child-centred trauma prevention.

_

We are the mothers of the alpha children living in and around Naarm on the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation. We are now 1.3 million strong representing motherhood in all its intersectional glory. Our offspring were in utero or born in 2010 onward, following the abject failure of the Copenhagen (COP15) climate negotiations, where we had a chance to divert catastrophic climate change. Our wombs carried and birthed babies through drought, bushfires, smoke haze and during the pandemic waves of Covid-19/20/21, where the lockdowns fostered the largest baby boom since the 1940s.

We endured through the rolling lockdowns, the subsequent race riots, food shortages, heatwaves, windstorms and floods in the years that followed. Husbands and partners left. Homes foreclosed. Jobs evaporated and suicides skyrocketed. While patriarchal institutions of the church, finance, judiciary, military and academia fell, starved of the oxygen that gave them centuries of caustic power, we were co-creating a reworlding curriculum for our children in the hours between naps and after bedtimes. We cohabitated and shared resources and childcaring responsibilities. Many of us wilfully left pay-for-service employment in favour of CFR roles, contributing our unique skills, knowledge and expertise to reworlding. We had nothing left to lose and everything to gain.

Our council of grandmothers, mothers and aunties representing the brains and nurturing trust built Umbilica, an alternate online and offline communication portal for reworlding pedagogical practice, maternal-child health and resource sharing. Core to our practice is critical thinking, collaboration and de-escalation training, to foster agile responsiveness and resilience in ourselves and children. Our work begins in utero through to adolescence. We have programs to help lessen cortisol and adrenaline in expectant mothers to support healthy foetal nervous system and brain development, as well as scaffolded activities to foster play, learning and emotional development for everyone.   

Our 8 Learning Areas include: Ceremony and Storytelling, Food Systems and Traditional Medicine, Future-casting and Scenario-mapping, Experimentation (science and art), Landcare and Remediation, Observation and Navigation, Leadership and Communications, and Care Economics. Central to the experiential instruction are our cross-curriculum priorities of social justice, maternal and child health, and disaster preparedness.  

Climate impacts continue to threaten our ways of life, but no longer our well-being. By investing in our children, we invest in our future ancestors’ capacity to build a world that should have been, before colonial disruption.

This future was generated Jen and Bron.

Excerpt from Vlog, Wiradjuri Land, 2029

Excerpt from Vlog,
Gibbs, El
Wiradjuri Land, 2029

Vlog Entry 05:35 Wednesday 15th April 2029
I’m tired and sore this morning. The kind of tired that flows from deep inside me, covering my limbs with heaviness, and swamping my thinking. My bones ache, grinding against each other as I slowly wake and breathe, dreading the meagre movement needed to get out of bed.

Just this week, I got another note from my local Care Centre, reminding me that they will be sending folk around to ‘take care’ of me. Whether I like it or not, I guess.

I know that having more help will actually help, but I’m resisting. The house is a mess, I don’t have any clean clothes, and god, a meal would be amazing. But the Care people, so eager to lend a hand, don’t listen to what I want. They make assumptions, judgements, interfere. I just wish they would allow me the space to have a say about my so-called care.

Since the Care Strike of 2025, there’s been much more discussion about this work of caring, of what that means, of how that work is valued, of why it matters. Disabled people rate a mention only so we can be the subjects of those that insist on caring, it seems. **sigh** It’s not as though we are the experts on care or anything like that.

Vlog Entry 06:39 Wednesday 15th April 2029
I pick up my battered, so well-read, copy of Care Work, from Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, that sits beside my bed just for moments like this, because they’ve already written the words running round my brain, already said what I need to hear a decade earlier, learnt a decade before that.

“I think about the needs I have that I am still too ashamed to let anyone see, let alone take care of” they write, talking of collectives of care run by disabled people of colour.

Their knowledge and expertise about different models of care have taught me so much, but I am cognisant of how whiteness also changes my experience of care and disability.  

My irritation, my resistance is grounded in my own experiences of abusive care, both from informal and formal care systems. I’ve had care imposed against my will, without my consent. I’ve been locked up in hospital. I’ve had the social workers visit and tut-tut over my life. But I’ve never had the police called when I’ve asked for disability support. I’ve never ended up in prison when asking for care. I’ve never had a guardianship order put on me.

All of these things happen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disabled people, to black and brown disabled people, to queer and trans disabled people, to people with intellectual disability, to people who communicate differently.

Piepzna-Samarasinha writes about how “people’s fear of accessing care didn’t come out of nowhere. It came out of generations and centuries where needed care meant being locked up, losing your human and civil rights and being subject to abuse.”

Care isn’t a neutral good, and is about power relations. Always. Care is often about non-disabled people deciding what is ‘best’ for us. Deciding how we should live our lives, how our lives should look, how we should be disabled. Fuck that.

Care can be coercive. Care can be abusive. Care can take away the scraps of dignity and control a disabled person has. This new enthusiasm for caring refuses to understand or acknowledge this, or learn the lessons of what happened before.

Vlog Entry 07:43 Wednesday 15th April 2029
I was up late again last night, re-reading for the umpteenth time, the findings from the Disability Royal Commission from 2022. Unpicking all those recommendations again, as I’ve done over and over, that tried to remake the way disabled people move through the world.

Disabled people poured their hearts into that Commission, telling stories of their deepest pains, of the most terrible things that happened to them, taking such extraordinary risks.

At the end of that three years, the Commission handed down volumes of reports that laid bare, yet again, how dangerous care can be for many of us, in so many places. And how unequal and unfair that danger is, how different disabled people face such danger for just being disabled.

I remember the day those recommendations came down, crying with the myriad other disabled people who had worked so hard to bring them about. There were recommendations to reshape our courts, the police, our prisons. Recommendations about access to everything. Recommendations for inclusion, for an end to segregation.

And yet, when the Care Strike came, and the Care Act brought about, they were all ignored. We were ignored. It’s not like we weren’t warned. Vanamali Hermans wrote all the way back in 2019 that “Royal Commissions do not promise justice – people may speak to them, but that does not promise they will be heard.”

Vlog Entry 08:47 Wednesday 15th April 2029
I finally summon the courage to get out of bed, the pain making me shake, and move slowly, into the kitchen to make a coffee, telling the radio and heater to turn on. The annoying talking house reminds me that I have to respond to the local Care Centre’s demands that I be cared for by the end of the week, or they will send the Care Coordinator to see me. Christ.

I wonder sometimes what these kinds of new care structures would look like if they bothered to ask us what we might want. If they stopped just for a second and looked at the reams of material that disabled, sick and older folk have produced about what we know about care work.

What would they look like if disabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to black and brown disabled people, if queer and trans disabled people created them, built them, were at the very heart of these care systems?

If only there was some way to go back and tell them. Future generated by Rayna, Lia and Lorna, realised by El Gibbs.

Artwork by Sam Wallman
Artwork by Amanda Anastasi

About

Our First Speaker Claire G. Coleman kicks off this Assembly for the Future by showing us the power of revealing the truth and remembering how we won the battles against colonial injustice. Coleman describes rapid demographic shifts worldwide and the global uprisings in the early 2020s, a world that began to spin on a different axis. As new models of power sharing and wealth distribution upended centuries of colonial injustice and white supremacy, new voices flooded the public domain, transforming society and culture.

Assembly for the Future is a series of participatory, digital gatherings of around 70 citizens who will create new visions for futures that may be credible, idealistic or utterly fanciful. Our aim is to develop the practice of imagination.

A multi-platform exploration of futures to come in the era of climates changed and changing, we transport collaborators, participants and audiences to 2029 when significant impacts on planetary health are a daily reality causing powerful transformations of our cultural, political and energy systems. Using a simple approach involving a keynote provocation, creative responses and facilitated collective creation, we will envisage new pathways for the coming ten years.

Working within an assembly of thinkers, artists and provocateurs, we invite you to become protagonists, to put your imagination at the service of creating other, better, futures.

Premiere status

World Premiere

Presented by

  • Presented by Arts House, City of Melbourne as part of BLEED 2020.

Artistic Credits

  • Keeper of Time and coCurator for the Future: Alex Kelly
  • Dramaturg and coCurator for the Future: David Pledger
  • Producer for the Future: Sophia Marinos
  • First Speaker: Claire G. Coleman
  • Respondents: Anne Manne, Dr Ruth DeSouza
  • Moderators: Genevieve Grieves, Jen Rae, Jennifer Mills, Zena Cumpston, Lawrence Harvey, Debris Facility, Tim Hollo, Eleanor Jackson, Jordan Lacey, El Gibbs
  • Assembly Artists in Residence: Sam Wallman, Amanda Anastasi
  • Usher: Robbie McEwan
  • Future Archive Commission: Gillian Lever, Lisa Bartolomei, Sophie Gleeson
  • Future Archive: Lawrence Harvey & SIAL Studios RMIT
  • Composer: Aaron Cupples
  • Visual Design: Elliat Rich

Supported by

  • Assembly for the Future is a project of The Things We Did Next collaboration. The Things We Did Next is co-created by Alex Kelly & David Pledger and produced by Not Yet It’s Difficult and Something Somewhere Inc.
  • This work is supported by Arts House, City of Melbourne as part of BLEED 2020, The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Bertha Foundation, Monash Climate Change Communications Research Hub and RMIT SIAL Studios.
  • This work was developed with the generous support of Arts House CultureLAB, Arts NT, Australia Council for the Arts, Besen Foundation and Vitalstatistix Adhocracy program.
  • BLEED is conceived, produced and presented by City of Melbourne through Arts House and Campbelltown City Council through Campbelltown Arts Centre. BLEED has been assisted by the Federal Government through Australia Council for the Arts, its funding and advisory body.

Schedule

This event occurred live on Thursday 9 July.

A recording of the First Speaker and Respondents addresses will be available to watch here from 13 July.

Watch

This was a free event.

Bios

Claire G. Coleman

Claire G. Coleman is a Noongar woman whose family have belonged to the south coast of Western Australia since long before history started being recorded. She writes fiction, essays and poetry while (mostly) traveling around the continent now called Australia in a ragged caravan towed by an ancient troopy (the car has earned “vintage” status). Born in Perth, away from her ancestral country she has lived most of her life in Victoria and most of that in and around Melbourne. During an extended circuit of the continent she wrote a novel, influenced by certain experiences gained on the road. She has since won a Black&Write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship for that novel, Terra Nullius.

Anne Manne

Anne Manne is a writer, social philosopher and essayist who has been a columnist for the Australian and The Age. Her first book, Motherhood, raised the way neoliberalism and the new capitalism was reshaping society, what we value, and our decisions around love, care, paid and unpaid work. It was a finalist in the Walkley award for best Non- Fiction book. Her 2008 Quarterly Essay, Love and Money: The Family and the Free Market, was a finalist in the Victorian Premier’s prize for non-fiction. She has also published a memoir, So This Is Life, and in 2014 she published the bestselling The Life of I; the new culture of narcissism, which was a finalist in the Queensland Literary non-fiction book award. Her longer essays on contemporary issues have been primarily in The Monthly magazine, such as The Great Domestic Hoax: Making women’s unpaid work count, and Rape Among the Lamingtons, Tragic Evidence of child sexual abuse in the Newcastle Anglican church. She is currently writing a new book on institutional child sexual abuse.

Dr Ruth DeSouza

Dr Ruth DeSouza is a highly experienced multidisciplinary educator, researcher and consultant, specialising in cross cultural engagement, cultural safety, and the interface of digital technologies within culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Her background is in nursing where she has extensive experience as a clinician, researcher and academic in New Zealand and Australia. Ruth is a 2020 RMIT Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, based in the School of Art and a member of the Design and Creative Practice Enabling Capability Platform (ECP). Her fellowship project aims to engage health professionals in finding new ways to understand, co-design and implement sustainable cultural safety initiatives in a range of health contexts.

Genevieve Grieves

Genevieve Grieves is a Worimi woman – traditionally from mid north coast New South Wales – who has lived in Narrm (Melbourne) for many years. She is an award-winning Indigenous artist, researcher, educator, curator, film-maker and oral historian who has accumulated twenty years experience across the arts, culture and education sectors. Genevieve has consistently won recognition and awards for the variety of projects she has undertaken throughout her diverse career including online documentaries, film, art and exhibitions.

Dr Jen Rae

Dr Jen Rae is an artist, researcher, facilitator and educator, based in Narrm (Melbourne) and the Director of Fair Share Fare. Her 15-year practice-led research expertise is in the discursive field of contemporary environmental art and environmental communication. It is centred around cultural responses to climate change/everything change – specifically the role of artists and creative inquiry.

Jennifer Mills

Jennifer Mills is the author of the novels The Airways (forthcoming: Picador, 2021), Dyschronia (Picador, 2018), Gone (UQP, 2011) and The Diamond Anchor (UQP, 2009) and a collection of short stories, The Rest is Weight (UQP, 2012). In 2019 Dyschronia was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, Australia’s most prestigious prize for literary fiction, the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, and the Aurealis Awards for science fiction.

Zena Cumpston

Zena Cumpston is a Barkandji woman currently working as a Research Fellow for the Clean Air Urban Landscapes Hub at the University of Melbourne, undertaking research and projects which explore Aboriginal perspectives of biodiversity in urban areas. Zena was the lead researcher, co-producer and co-designer of ‘The Living Pavilion’, a temporary living laboratory comprised of 40,000 Kulin Nation plants which celebrated and explored Indigenous knowledge, custodianship and belonging. She also works as a freelance writer, researcher and consultant. Most recently Zena’s freelance work has been with Science Gallery Melbourne as a researcher and mentor, working with young Aboriginal people to produce Indigenous Design workshops to be presented in high schools, aimed at encouraging students to consider Indigenous perspectives in tackling modern environmental challenges. In 2019 she collaborated with artist and curator Jonathon Jones, Uncle Bruce Pascoe and Professor Bill Gammage on ‘Bunha-bunhanga; Aboriginal Agriculture in the south-east’ as part of the Tarnanthi Aboriginal Festival at the Art Gallery of South Australia. She has recently been published in People and Nature, The Conversation, The Adelaide Review and the Australian Garden History Journal. Zena is currently curating an exhibition in partnership with the CAUL Hub, Science Gallery, The Old Quad and the Melbourne University Herbarium which revolves around Aboriginal plant use engaging with Aboriginal artists, research and community perspectives to interrogate the lens through which Aboriginal agricultural and plant knowledge has been perceived since Invasion.

Lawrence Harvey

Lawrence Harvey is a composer, sound designer and director of SIAL Sound Studios, School of Design, RMIT University. He has led various ARC and industry funded projects, supervises research candidates and teaches into the Spatial Sound stream of the Master of Design Innovation Technology (MDIT) degree. He is Artistic Advisor to the RMIT Sonic Arts Collection and directs public concerts and exhibitions for the collection on the SIAL Sound Studios speaker orchestra. Harvey has also collaborated in interdisciplinary teaching and research with musicians and artists, interior, digital and industrial designers, and architects. In addition to electroacoustic compositions, he has produced gallery and urban sound installations, spatial sound designs for VR and theatre, and performed around Australia and in Seoul, Huddersfield, The Hague and Vienna.

Debris Facility

Debris Facility Pty Ltd is a queer corporate entity formed in 2015 after 10 years of “solo” artistic activity. Usually inhabiting one embodiment, it works to disrupt boundaries of singular and multiple agencies. The Facility’s mobius input and output redeploy the im/material waste from creative industries. Through utilsing organisations as critical spatial practice, we highlight and morph existing exchange mechanisms. Through pedagogical commitments to Liquid Architecture, Victorian College of the Arts and Monash University, we extend our discursive investments.

Tim Hollo

Tim Hollo is Executive Director of the Green Institute, where he leads thinking around ecological political philosophy and practice, and drives policy discussion around Rights of Nature, Universal Basic Income and participatory democracy. He is currently a visiting fellow at the Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet). Tim was previously Communications Director for Greens Leader Christine Milne, has been both a board member and campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, and has worked for 350, Lock the Gate and others. In 2013, he founded Green Music Australia, an organisation which brings together his environmental activism with his experience as a musician, having recorded 8 albums and toured nationally and globally, from the National Folk Festival to New York’s Carnegie Hall with FourPlay String Quartet. Tim’s writing on environmental, social and political issues has been widely published, including at the Griffith Review, Meanjin, the Guardian, ABC, Huffington Post, and Crikey.

Jordan Lacey

Jordan Lacey is a writer, curator, composer and researcher of sounds, ambiances, and artistic methodologies. He is based in the School of Design at RMIT University. Jordan recently curated the Translating Ambiance exhibition, a hybrid sound-art exhibition-ethnography research event. He is author of Sonic Rupture.

Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer and community radio broadcaster. Author of A Leaving (Vagabond Press), her live album, One Night Wonders, is produced by Going Down Swinging. A passionate advocate for diverse and inclusive cultures, she is a former Editor in Chief and now Chair of Peril Magazine. She has previously held roles as Vice-Chair of The Stella Prize and Board Member for Queensland Poetry Festival.

El Gibbs

El Gibbs is the Director, Media and Communications for People with Disability Australia. She is also an award-winning writer with a focus on disability and social issues, published widely. Her work is available at elgibbs.com.au. El spends far too much time on Twitter at @bluntshovels.

Sam Wallman

Sam Wallman is a comics-journalist, cartoonist and industrial organiser based primarily on unceded Wurundjeri Country. His work has been published in places like the Guardian, The New York Times, the ABC and SBS. He is a member of the Workers Art Collective, and an artist-in-residence at the Victorian Trades Hall.

Amanda Anastasi

Amanda Anastasi is a Melbourne poet whose work has appeared on the walls of Windsor’s Artists Lane to The Massachusetts Review. Following her debut poetry collection ‘2012 and other poems’, Amanda engaged in several multidisciplinary collaborations that included ‘Loop City’, a spoken word/music show about Melbourne commissioned by MSO’s Sarah Curro. Amanda is a two-time winner of the Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize, and has appeared at the Emerging Writers Festival, the Williamstown Literary Festival and the Melbourne Spoken Word and Poetry Festival. Amanda was a recent recipient of a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship to work on a series of poems set in the year 2042. She is currently Poet in Residence at the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub (MCCCRH), where she is writing poetry to raise awareness on ecological issues and the climate crisis.

Sophia Marinos

Sophia Marinos has worked in diverse areas of social justice and the arts, both internationally and locally. Sophia was the creative producer of Big hART’s multi-platform Namatjira project from 2009-2018, leading a successful and historic campaign to restore the copyright in Albert Namatjira’s works to his family. With Big hART she was National Producer, producing numerous theatrical works, community engagement programs and social impact campaigns, on issues as diverse as slavery at sea, Indigenous languages policy, cultural diversity and Indigenous incarceration. She has produced Man With The Iron Neck for Legs On The Wall; worked with Indigenous strategic design and technology company Old Ways, New on how Indigenous Knowledges can inform new and emerging technologies; produced monthly singing events for The Welcome Choir; and has worked with Bob Brown Foundation.

Robbie McEwan

Robbie McEwan is a cross-platform producer, filmmaker and assistant director from Aotearoa New Zealand who has produced with Screen Australia and screened films at MIFF, SFF, MQFF and international festivals. Robbie’s audio productions have been broadcast on RNZ National, ABC RN’s 360documentaries and Earshot. For the audio feature ‘Chasing Meteors’ he received a 2017 Kavli Science Journalism Award for Excellence in Audio Reporting from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Warnings

  • Please note some of the Assembly for the Future written works contain references to themes including genocide, suicide and filicide and may not suitable for younger readers.

    If you or anyone you know needs help:
    Lifeline on 13 11 14

Terms & Conditions

More Assembly for the Future

Crop mark design element
Crop mark design element
Skip to content