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Free Aussie Kids, Some of Us Will Remember

Updated on February 27, 2016
T Garcia Martinez profile image

"Dear Aunty" is the alter ego of author Kartanya Martinez. 'Aunty' is a little bit sassy, naughty & swears a little bit.

Free Aussie Kids

There was a time in the 'Lucky Country', Australia, when children would play until the street lights came on and then go home. Throughout summer and daylight savings, this would alter to even parents congregating on front verandah's and interacting together.

It is sad that these times have seemed to have disappeared, and amid a new Government initiative being debated and possibly introduced that any child outside on the streets after dark will result in parents being reported to child welfare services.

The Freedom of Australian Summer

Wallaroo Jetty South Australia.  So much fun jumping off the top pier into the netted off public pool.
Wallaroo Jetty South Australia. So much fun jumping off the top pier into the netted off public pool. | Source
Calvin Klein Little Boys' 2 Piece Swim Set Tank Top and Printed Short, White, 7
Calvin Klein Little Boys' 2 Piece Swim Set Tank Top and Printed Short, White, 7

Calvin Klein Little Boys' 2 Piece Swim Set Tank Top and Printed Swim Short


Do You Remember

Do you remember a time we would see children playing in the streets with all the neighbourhood children? Don’t know about you, but in my street we all had 'camo' pants and the green and gold tank tops with the boxing kangaroo and we would play “Stealth Armies”. Boys and girls running around, hiding behind landscaped walls, toy guns in their hands, or sticks that had fallen from trees. Teams evenly divided into the enemy and the Aussie Army.

Old Mrs. Bond used to get cranky when I would lie among her daisy bushes, but with a wink she would point out where the “enemy” was, and then under the guise of watering her garden she would squirt me out of her daisies and yell, “Go Get Them Girl”. Leaping over her garden wall, with my toy gun and the appropriate noises being made, I would shoot the person she had pointed out. Rather than parade around victorious that we had ‘got the enemy’ we would rush to the one we had shot and get bits of old rag we had stuffed in our back pockets out and play medic. Looking after the ones we had ‘wounded’, telling them they would be okay. It wasn’t unusual for another team member to come and help too, and all the while we would tell the wounded that really there was no better army than ours and that we didn’t really want to kill them, but we must fight for freedom because it is the Aussie way, convincing them to defect to our side because once we win, we can drink ‘beer and laugh and dance together, because Aussie’s are the best and the most friendly in the world.

The children in our street never fought with one another. We came from different ethnic backgrounds and different socio-economic backgrounds. One lad down the end of the street, his dad was a very rich man. He had the latest BMW and a Mercedes in his driveway. One day a boy called Shane raced down the street with his plastic pistol blazing behind him, and roared up the driveway where these cars were parked, and in a dramatic death scene because he had been ‘shot’ he scraped the BMW with the handlebars of his bike as he fell to the ground. The lad whose father owned the car came down and simply said “oh shit Dad’s going to crack it”. Shane went around the back door, followed by all of us, knocked and walked in. We all followed. Shane fronted up and told Mister what he had done and how. Mister came out, surveyed the damage, shook his head and turned to Shane and said, “Shane, its significant damage but not terrible. It’s going to cost me some money to get that fixed”. Shane trembled, told Mister that his dad didn’t have that sort of money (Shane was the only child of a widower. Shane’s dad was a Vietnam Veteran and was on an invalid pension due to the injuries he sustained in the war). Mister acknowledged that he knew this and that he had no intention of making his dad pay for it, however, he did say to Shane that it would be fair if he mowed his lawns and bought him a newspaper every day for a month. Well a newspaper cost 20c and Shane knew he could cover that, and he was more than happy to mow the lawns he did it for his dad. So with a handshake it was done and dusted, and with a hand ruffled through Shane’s hair, Mister told us to carry on and he said he would move his cars to make it easier for us to play and that the cut-off point was the end of the house we were allowed no further.

We had about 7 Vietnam Veterans in our street, and 3 patched bikers. On the weekends when we would be playing armies wasn’t unusual for them to come out and play with us. We would love it when that happened. Because even though we were playing a game, an adult playing was awesome, because they would hide better, and they used to teach us how to be more “stealth”. They would take crazy risks to get us running out in the open to rescue our wounded because “we never leave a mate behind”. Especially during summer, as our parents came out to water gardens or sit on the porch to have a beer, somehow the adults would all end up together in some ones yard drinking, music blaring us kids having water fights, eating ice creams. We would play well into the night.

We felt safe in our neighbourhood, we never seen adults fight when they were drinking together. Every parent would take responsibility for every child in the street, not just their own. We were made accountable if we stuffed up, we never had our parents confronting each other over our behaviour, because it was dealt with by the adult on the spot at the time and never would we disrespect that adult.

I believe these values are still here, still underlying in the Australian psyche, but for some reason we are scared to reach out and live it. Has Government and media socially engineered us to judge each other that harshly or to be more inclined towards our materialistic existence that we do not identify to our way of life as Australians? We the adults of the next generation hesitate because we are scared; we know the old school values are the best, we also know that as children we were better protected. We need this way of life back; we need this sense of freedom back for our children, and our children’s children.

If you read this, and you remember, let’s remind each other what we had, and stand together to get it back.

Would You Like To See Neighbourhoods' Like This In Australia Again?

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© 2015 Kartanya Martinez


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