Age at interview: 59
Oscar is a 59 year old Birrkeli man from Arnhem Bay. He is married and has five children and 14 grandchildren and great grandchildren. Oscar trained and worked as a carpenter then took up leadership roles within the community including Chairman of the Community Council, representative on the North East Arnhem Land Regional Development Board and the Northern Land Council. He was General Manager for Marthakal Homeland Resource Centre for many years. More recently, Oscar has been working in health promotion to reduce smoking in the community. He lives with his wife and his son's family in Galiwin'ku, Elcho Island in the Northern Territory.
More about Oscar
Oscar is looking forward to getting older but still wants to work and be active by going fishing, hunting, walking and cycling. He believes that keeping active will help him live longer and that if he doesn't exercise it will make him weak and lazy.
Oscar thinks it is important to get enough vitamins and minerals from eating three meals a day and to avoid eating take-away food which is high in fat, sugar and salt. He believes it is more difficult to get bush food these days and that it is important to cook your own meals and for older people to get assistance with meals through the aged care service.
Oscar explains that old people are dying rapidly due to the influence of the foreign culture, which was brought to Arnhem Land by missionaries in 1942. He talks about the importance of balancing Western influences and Government laws with the existing Yolngu system which has been in place for much longer. When working with Aboriginal communities, Oscar stresses the importance of consultation, working together with a shared understanding to achieve good outcomes for the community. He hopes there will be more investment in education, health, housing and roads. He would also like to see more constructive outlets for youth in the community, such as a swimming pool, gym and BMX bike track, so that kids are not just wandering around.
Oscar talks about his role as a grandfather and head of the family, and acknowledges the difficulty he has keeping an eye on where his grandchildren are and the worry this can cause. He describes old age as a time to look after yourself and your family and to encourage youth in the community. He believes that to be a leader in the community is to be wise, respectful and kind to people. As Oscar ages, he wants to keep working for the next generation, to encourage them to get an education and to invest in training the leaders of tomorrow.