Art of Ageing: Meet rouseabout Arthur
ARTHUR is an everyday senior who represents the wonderful diversity of NSW's older residents.
His story reflects an Australia unique to its older generation - a contrast of values, emotions and personality in an ever-changing landscape.
Seniors News, with the help of the NSW Government, will be telling Arthur and many more seniors' stories in a six week series.
Arthur's story can also be glimpsed in a 30-image exhibition that will be touring NSW throughout 2018 and 2019.
The story of rouseabout Arthur
Arthur was raised on a mission called Nanima, or Blacks Camp - the earliest remembered Aboriginal camp in the Wellington area. Wiradjuri people lived segregated from the town's people. "The Mission was a good place to be," he says. "Nobody bothered us. We did what we wanted to do."
Arthur and his wife of 48 years, Eileen, have three kids, 13 grandkids and two great grandkids. "My wife is white, in case I get barred from the pub," he says with a cheeky smile. "Her father didn't want us to marry but it was a case of 'with or without you mate', and that was that."
At the age of 10, Arthur was diagnosed with a leaking valve in his heart and told he would never be able to do physical labour. Hailing from a family of shearers, he refused to be cast off and went to work in the sheds as a rouseabout. After undergoing a knee replacement, Arthur was forced to give up the shearer's life and applied for the position of Aboriginal mentor at Wellington Correctional Centre.
Arthur's job as a mentor is to listen to the needs of Aboriginal inmates and negotiate these with the authorities. "It's about trying to be there for inmates on a needs basis, connecting them to their family," he explains. "If a loved one is sick or in hospital, I'll try and get him to the hospital for a visit. I'm mostly successful. It's very fulfilling - especially when I've done something to help someone."
"I'll retire when they cut my legs off, or something."