poem: Hampton, Footscray and Nhulunbuy

Hampton, Footscray and Nhulunbuy


One thing about my GP work – I get

To meet, assess all kinds of folk.  We’re all

Of us the same but different – that’s because

Of money, cultures, education more

Or less.  In Hampton there’s more money, less

Diversity, ‘God’s waiting room’ perhaps,

With lots of oldies worried ‘bout their health

And wealth, replete with time to ponder aches

And pains, and google latest fads; too much

Anxiety despite fine homes and cars,

And income spent on vitamins and herbs

And naturopaths, massages, healers strange

And varied, though there’s wisdom, fruit of years

And grace in many older folk.  Across

The river, west, there’s Footscray, so diverse

And often poor, though middle class is here

And growing now; still lots of anglo’s, old

And living here forever, working class,

With pensions, little homes, TV and grog.

There’s hordes of migrants, African and Viet –

Their shops and cafes much have given us

From days when life seemed grey and lacking taste

Or colour. Gangs and violence late at night

Unsettle milder folk at times – that’s how

It is and always has been ‘til the new

Arrivals settle down.  And then we have

Asylum seekers, desperate people, poor

As poor can be, arrived in leaky boats

With nothing, traumatised by violence, war

And terror, just want safety, chance to start

Again; no English speech at all in most

And not allowed to work, so life’s as hard

As it could be in this the lucky land.


But then of course there’s black Australia, stain

Upon the national pride – these folk with less

Than nothing just surviving on the fringe

Of wealth and high consumption.  Nhulunbuy

So pretty, different nation, makes me feel

An alien though it’s here in Oz.  The blacks

Are mostly friendly, some are surly, some

Suspicious, well why not we took their land

And trashed their culture, both so closely linked –

We didn’t get it.  Now they die too young,

Beset by all the ills of poverty.

It’s good to help a little, help my guilt

At such a list of crimes against these folk.

Their lack of health is one big part of all

The challenges they face, but leaders strong

They have, and education’s helping both

Our cultures grasp a chance of better life.


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