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Byron Shire
October 3, 2022
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Mandy Nolan's Soapbox

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: War on Trauma

In the War on Trauma we care for hurt people. We understand the importance of safety, of nutrition, of connection to community, of addressing loneliness, of the power of being in nature.  Being locked in jail for drug-related offences doesn’t change the underlying reasons for why someone has addiction issues. It just amplifies the trauma. And amplified trauma leads to drug harm.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Being Ready

I used to love the sound of rain. Now, like many others, it frightens me. It reminds me that we are not ready. That...

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Last Queen

The Queen is dead. Surprisingly it’s no surprise. She was 96. An age colonised Indigenous women will never reach. The Queen never had to...

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: A very sober noodle 

It’s almost 6pm. I’ve been checking the clock. At 6pm I have a glass of wine. I start looking forward to it around 4pm. There’s a warm fuzzy glow knowing that at 6pm I get to open a bottle and pour a fresh red.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: 100 years of the CWA

In nearly every small town in Australia there is a modest hall where older women meet to have tea, compare crotchet patterns and commit acts of random kindness, otherwise known as improving conditions for disadvantaged people in their rural communities. They have been doing that for 100 years. They are the CWA. A non-party political, non-sectarian organisation that mainly relies on volunteers. 

The man who broke democracy 

Right now ex-Prime Minister Scott Morrison is the most hated man in the Liberal party. He has broken the trust of his nation. He has deceived his own party. He has given satirists, bored with the well-meaning and benign Albo, a small renaissance into the narcissism of old. He’s memed himself into the history books. 

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Lock On

My heroes are people like climate change activist Mali Cooper, the 22-year-old Lismore woman who was among 12 people charged for blocking the entry to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel. Mali and her friends brought Sydney to a standstill and they did it knowing the consequences under the new NSW protest laws. It’s no longer a $400 fine. Protesters now face up to two years jailtime and/or a fine of $22k. 

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: For Sale: Moral compass

Some weeks it’s hard to navigate the big feelings I have around injustice; the kind of injustice that occurs every day, everywhere, underwritten by the privilege of some at the expense of the many. The shit stuff people get away with! The shit stuff no one notices. Shit stuff always happens to people who don’t have much to start with. I sometimes wonder how you can hear story after story and not realise the system is broken. Capitalism sucks. Let’s go break stuff – like, the dominant paradigm! We haven’t managed to subvert it – so can we smash it into tiny pieces? Please?

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Voice

This weekend this country lost Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and storyteller Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung) – Archie Roach. He was just 66. An age indicative of what First Nations people can expect in Australia – to die 8–9 years earlier than non-Aboriginal Australians. A shorter life expectancy brought about by trauma and institutionalised racism created by colonisation and assimilation. 

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: I went to Sydney for work and ended up in a COVID-19 Ward

There are three places you don’t want to end up in this country: mandatory detention, jail and a COVID-19 Ward. Ten days ago I lay in a bed in a big Sydney hospital in a glassed-off room with three elderly covid patients, and I wondered, how did I get here? 

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Vaginas Are Us

Your vagina is perfect. Has anyone ever said that to you? A doctor? A friend? A lover? Your mother? Perhaps they should. Vagina dysmorphia has extreme consequence. In fact, it’s become a thriving industry.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Feel the Pain

Around 20 per cent of Australians live with chronic pain. It’s consistent with worldwide stats that indicate one in five people suffer from chronic pain (CP) with prevalence increasing with age. I woke at 1am and started thinking about this. And then I woke again at 1.30am and 2am and then I lay there until after 3am. I might have drifted but woke at about 4.30am to roll over. I am in pain.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: To Hall and Back

There is something magical about a country hall. These small wooden buildings dot the landscape. They have a frugal modesty and an old fashioned generosity. If they had names they’d be called Thelma or Rose or Alan. They’re a pungent olfactory mix of last week’s wedding enmeshed with yesterday’s committee meeting. Curry and Jatz, tea and beer, tears and laughter.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: War on the Wombs

The right to safe abortion is the cornerstone of the women’s movement. It’s the ground on which we stand to become lawyers and academics and policy writers and journalists and activists. It’s allowed us reproductive freedom and put us on equal footing with those without wombs; mainly cis men who, for centuries, saw our bodies as countries to rape and pillage. Our wombs were colonised – the cock was the flag that ploughed deep into our stolen earth.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Lettuce to the Editor

As a writer you never really know what is going to strike a chord with your audience. What will inspire them? Make them think? Make them change their mind? Make them angry? After more than two decades of publishing I am still surprised by what rocks a reader’s boat. About a week ago I discovered that a lot of people have strong opinions on the humble iceberg. I’m not talking about the one that took out theTitantic. I’m talking about the one that has been sinking wallets at the supermarket.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Bring them ALL Home

This weekend the country watched the Nadesalingam family return to Bilo. They saw Tharnica, a little girl born in this country who had spent four years in detention celebrate her fifth birthday. After four years this family of Tamil asylum seekers have gone home to the central Queensland town of Biloela. The love of a small town for this family tells a very clear story; that there is a place in this country for resettling refugees. 

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Assange, Muffins and Media Freedom

This June it’s ten years since Julian Assange sought political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Disguised as a motorcycle courier the WikiLeaks publisher sought refuge from extradition to the US – where they want him to face 17 charges of espionage and one of computer misuse. After seven years in the embassy Assange was removed to Belmarsh Prison, and in April this year after three years of incarceration, a British Court approved Assange’s extradition to the US. 

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Shooting Kids for Freedom

Welcome to America. Where the Second Amendment right to bear arms has become the right to shoot kids. Last week 19 children and two teachers were gunned down at the Robb Elementary School in Ulvade, Texas. Since the 1999 shooting at Columbine more than 311,000 students have experienced gun violence. 169 people have died.  And still they don’t change their laws to keep children safe. The same place that has introduced ‘the heartbeat law’ where women can go to jail for having an abortion at seven weeks, won’t bring in regulations that might protect actual children from being gunned down at their desks.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Another Day in Hope Purgatory

Politics is a phenomenal experience. To work harder than you thought possible, to put yourself so absolutely in the public domain full of hope and belief. Then to ask for judgement. It’s high stakes. A kind of ethical and philosophical extreme sport.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Insights from the campaign trail

The election is almost here. Hooray. It’s time we got down with Elvis Presley’s suggestion of ‘A little less conversation, a little more action, please.’ I’m a big fan of action. I’ve been at this for 14 months, and as a writer who holds the ear of the community each week I’ve been cognizant not to turn this into a hostage situation. For twenty years I’ve talked about politics and social issues and shared insights into my personal experiences, but this is one journey where I’ve had to keep you locked out. 

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Aborting Freedom

Why are women still having to fight for bodily autonomy? What’s happening in the US right now could have more sinister implications for the reproductive rights of women all around the world. And let’s be clear, data from the World Health Organisation shows that banning abortion has no effect on abortion rates throughout the world. It does however have an impact on women’s safety and their mortality. 

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Mothers We Miss

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers. This complex role of nurture is so unappreciated, so deeply embedded into our sense of worth, so important to how we conduct our relationships, how we feel about ourselves. So here’s to the stories we don’t see. The mothers who exist in the margins. I see you. We see you. Happy Mother’s Day.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Bless Me! Are we willing to talk about ableism?

We live in an ableist world. When Scott Morrison said that he and Jenny were blessed not to have a disabled child, they were repeating a historic belief that has been echoed by the world.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Uncertainty, Ukraine and The Cat Empire

Right now there’s a lot of people doing it tough.   I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a home. Owing to covid and extreme weather, my partner lost income, I lost gigs and our daughter lost her school – but we’re okay.and I, like many, have lost income  – but we’re okay. I don’t need much and I’m not a materialist. 

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Mr Binary and his lack of Trans Empathy

Scott Morrison is a binary man. He see’s things in black and white. He is in a two party political system. His religion tells him clearly that things are either good or bad. He’s as binary as they come, so it should be no surprise that the only way he can mobilise public support after three years of appalling leadership is to target the trans community.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Open letter to holiday makers

You are welcome to visit, but we are in this conflicted position you see. Our community depends on you coming here. Our businesses need you. But could you help us out? Maybe, instead of us looking for other options for our region’s homeless, maybe you could bring a tent with you? Hire an RV? Bring a caravan? Hell, why not buy one and leave it here!

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Shoes off or shoes on?

There are two types of people.  Those who, on coming home, take their shoes off, and those who leave them on. I’m a shoes-on person.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: First Nations and the Flood

‘These disasters have exposed the consequences of a lack of planning and preparation in and with Aboriginal communities. They have also shown how entrenched inequality produces further vulnerabilities in times of crisis.’

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: It takes a village

They say ‘it takes a village’, but you don’t know what kind of village you are until disaster hits. We have just found out that our villages are amazing. For years in our region, as the housing crisis hit, people started to say ‘this community is gone’.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Why we should blame the government

When the head of the federal government’s disaster recovery agency, Shane Stone says ‘You’ve got people who want to live among the gum trees – what do you think is going to happen? Their house falls in the river and they say it’s the government’s fault’, well that’s not help. That’s actually abuse. 

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The High Ground

I write this on Monday morning. The rain is coming down. It’s like a torrent. Like someone left the bath tap turned on fully and forgot. The water is rising. My town is going under.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: On Sunday we smash the Patriarchy

Calling for an end to Patriarchy is not saying you hate men. It’s saying you hate a system that gives privilege and purpose to one particular group at the cost of others. It’s saying that there has to be a better way.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: No More Nice Girls

Men love ‘nice’ girls. We laugh at their dumb jokes, we ignore their boozy hands, we smile when they say something creepy. Nice girls don’t make a big deal. Nice girls ask what they could have done differently. They blame themselves. They swallow their narrative. Nice girls don’t make trouble.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Women at risk

Imagine if your life changed instantly.  Imagine if you were told the job you had done for 20 years, the career you had was over because the government believes women should not work – especially in the arts. Imagine if you were the person supporting your family, and now there is no income, and because of the work you did you are in fear for your life. Imagine if you were in hiding. Imagine you are no longer safe in your own home, or anywhere in your country. Where do you go?

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Heeling Circle

Some people make an impression. Heeling Dean was one of them. Sadly she died last week, and I wanted to dedicate my Soapbox to her in honour of a truly unique individual.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Listening to the truth tellers

Colonisation and invasion didn’t just happen 250 years ago at Botany Bay, it happens every day in a country that has been stolen from the traditional owners.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Emergency response for our emergency responders

We need our nurses. Right now, they are the most important workforce in the country. Not politicians or real estate agents or tradies or miners. Nurses. Paramedics. Hospital doctors.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: RAT hunters

I’m out RAT hunting. I’ve been on the road for an hour checking for local infestations. My daughter’s at home on the Rat App and...

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Covid Crocodile and other Stories of Wonder

Whatever you believe about covid, however, is irrelevant. We are here. It is here. It’s the crocodile skimming past you in the river. It might miss you this time, but get you next

‘Sad and distressing’: massive numbers of bird deaths in Australian heatwaves reveal a profound loss is looming

Heatwaves linked to climate change have already led to mass deaths of birds and other wildlife around the world. To stem the loss of biodiversity as the climate warms, we need to better understand how birds respond.

CWA push for improved maternity services

The W in CWA stands for Women and the CWA have been standing up for women yet again during their recent webinar and annual Awareness Week campaign.

Chris Minns visits Kingscliff to look at floodplain development risks

The potential future risks and costs of flooding to the community and government if approved, but yet to be built, housing is allowed to go ahead in floodplains was under the spotlight last week in Kingscliff.

The Tweed Artisan Food Festival is almost here

The sixth Tweed Artisan Food Festival will be held at the end of the month – the festival runs for 10 days with 20 curated events showcasing the people, the place and the produce of the Tweed.