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Most of us already know sport or hobbies like art or craft are 'good for the soul'... but what about music?

Not just any music of course - it has to 'sing to you'... (no pun intended!) - And we all have a story to tell - good bad or indifferent, but when your life's story turns your early love of music into 'self healing'  - that's something very special.

At our caravan park in Hervey Bay QLD, we woke one morning to the most beautiful sounds - a flute - almost next door.

This HAD to be a professional getting ready for a gig somewhere right?,,, Wrong! as you'll hear in this lovely chat we had with Judy Lattas.

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TRANSCRIPT

MUSIC– Flute ….  

BRIAN:
We're sitting in the G'day Parks Caravan Park in Scarness in Hervey Bay QLD and we've been here for a little while, but there's some new neighbors that just happened to be in a cabin near us and one day we heard this music playing… This beautiful flute and I thought, WOW… gotta go see who that is.  What are they doing there?  They're obviously professional!

JUDY:
(Laughs…)

KAYE:
Yes, we seriously did think that you were rehearsing and you're gonna play somewhere !

JUDY:
Well really?  

BRIAN:
Judy Lattas… welcome to Food, Wine, Pets, Travel… Come on are you a professional or what?  

JUDY:
No, absolutely not… this is my retirement play time!  Now I've now got the chance to actually practice and I've taken to the flute and I like to do it often.

KAYE:
So how come you took up the flute?  

JUDY:
Well, I played whistle and I had I got myself a low D whistle because I like the tone of it.  The mellow tone, and we went (sadly) to the funeral of some Greek academic friends of ours and they played this tune, which was the lament of the flutes.  And Andrew said, can you learn that for me?  And I tried to learn it and it was all in these flats that I just couldn't…   You can bend notes, on a whistle but I just couldn't get the right key and I remembered that I tried to play the flute years ago, so I got that out, but it was pretty unplayable and I said to him, “you buy me a flute for my  birthday, my upcoming birthday” which I was just  turning  60 and retiring  and he did!  And that was the first tune I learned

KAYE:
Okay  Andrew is your husband? (Yes. He's Greek ) So he gave you a flute for your birthday  and you're now doing all this magical stuff!!

JUDY:
Well, I played Celtic music before  I played tin whistle and a bit of Mandolin and stuff  like that  so I knew some tunes and because I've learned violin, I knew about  music, so I never had a lesson with the flute…  I just started!  And you can find whatever you need to know off  the internet anyway, but I very soon found that I really  liked the sound of it and other people did too.  I think they liked it better than hearing whistle all the time, because it's a bit more mellow  
It's really become my preferred instrument, too.

KAYE:
And you live in one of the most unusual  places in Australia?

JUDY:
Yeah, that's right.  In Dangar Island, which is a little Island just to the North of Sydney in the Hawkesbury River. There's no cars.  It's very village like - no colleagues there either, but everyone's, my friend and we have day trippers, tourists… and they like to hear it, too!

KAYE:
So why are you here in Hervey Bay in Queensland?  

JUDY:
My daughter got a job - her first academic job.  She got a lectureship in social work here at the University of Sunshine Coast and I had gone to school here in my last two years of school and I was curious to come back and I wanted to  help her move up here.  She was trying to avoid doing hotel quarantine in Brisbane, so we felt we would just hang out in Northern  New South Wales, and I could drive her up and  drive as much stuff as could fit in the car up with  us.

KAYE:
Fantastic! and  Dimity is absolutely gorgeous… and we'll have to talk to her another time.
But you've got your own collegiate background  that I think we'd love to talk about because you've  been instrumented on lots of things at Macquarie  University in Sydney

JUDY:
 Yeah, well, just as Dimmy is the first appointment in social work in Hervey Bay, I was the first  appointment in what was called ‘women's studies’  at Macquarie University…  So my history was that I was an activist and I was living up in Cairns.  I had started a rape crisis centre up there and I'd worked in the first women's shelter, and then I started my PhD and I was very  surprised to get that job in Sydney.  I was living in Adelaide at the time doing my PhD and doing a little bit of casual teaching… and Yeah, I got offered it and went over there.

So I was there 30 odd years at Macquarie and I built it up from scratch until it was called gender studies and  had about a thousand students a year.

KAYE:
I guess it's very hard to encapsulate in just two  minutes or so, but what are you most proud of  that you did while you were there?  

JUDY:
It kept it alive when a lot of other programs folded.  And that was really, really a struggle at different times. I'm proud of the teaching program that I developed and the amount of students that it touched.  And I got a lot of really great feedback from students about how important it was to them.  So that was important to me.

KAYE:
So people who don't understand about gender studies and women's studies what is it in a nutshell?

JUDY:
It's about what it means to be male, what it means to be female in a society that’s structured according to gender norms and  symbolic structures and it just has implications across so many  different fields.  I couldn't cover them all.  I'm pretty focused on the symbolic structures and the sort of metaphysics of it, but with it, my husband's an anthropologist. He worked a lot in gender in Papua New Guinea with cargo cults, which were often built around female figures.

It could be in psychoanalysis I did some study in…  anything I can… even if it’s to  do with business and diversity and sexual violence  as well.

Because I come from that background.  Violence was important.  The analysis.

KAYE:
Dare I ask why violence is important?  

JUDY:
Because I worked in a women's shelter and a rape crisis centre.  And that had always been my focus.

BRIAN:
So that obviously affects you personally as well just seeing these cases and these people and all  the rest of it.

JUDY:
Yes, it did.

BRIAN:
So does the music help you  cope with that do you think?

JUDY:
In some way… in a very general sense. It really is my mindfulness practice and I find it's a way of calming myself down every day and I find I actually need to play and it's like I then  can settle, so it does help in that way  psychologically. It does help me sort of live in the present a little bit more. It also helps my lungs.  I've got a lung condition so when the doctor said “play a  lot of flute”  I did!! (Laughs)!

MUSIC: Flute…

KAYE:
WOW!... Judy Lattas absolutely extraordinary and we feel very lucky that we actually met her she was  just in the cabin next to our caravan and I could  have talked to her for hours Hopefully we will again. She has so many interesting stories and she is so positive and so not ready to stop doing anything!

BRIAN:
Absolutely!... and a wonderful thing she's doing with her daughter as well.

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