‘Grounded in Truth’: Young Dark Emu

It was Reconciliation Week last week in Australia and this year’s theme was ‘grounded in truth’. It highlighted Aboriginal and Torres Train Islander peoples’ call for a process of truth-telling about Australia’s colonial history as a way of healing historical wounds. Because let’s face it, someone has to – there’s a leadership void where the political classes are concerned (apart from in Victoria, of course).

While this country remains in deep denial about the trauma white settlers visited on this continent (just change Australia Day goddammit!!), I figure one small, small way that I can contribute to reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians is to educate myself better about the wrongs of the past and to understand their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I shake my head whenever I reflect that I never learned anything about this trauma during my decades of formal Australian education.

Young Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe is the perfect entry point for this. By reexamining journals and drawings from early Australian settlers and explorers, Bruce Pascoe paints a radically different picture of Aboriginal people and their culture.

Fighting, feminism and Ford

I’m a feminist.  Every day I notice how women’s lives have been shaped to sustain male privilege.  I get angry when I think about the gender pay gap.  I’m furious about the prevalence of family violence.  The way that women in particular (but men too) are poked and prodded into hating their appearance by global beauty companies makes me livid.  But I am nowhere near as angry as Clementine Ford.

Heidi gives us hope

I have a deep sense of pride that an actual person that I know has won a writers’ prize in a hugely competitive and highly esteemed writing competition. The person I am referring to is, of course, Heidi Catherine.  Heidi has won herself, and her story The Extra Piece, a commendation in the Hope Prize short story competition and therefore a place in the very recently published Hope: An Anthology.

heidi-0990The Hope Prize was held for the first time this year by the charity the Brotherhood of St Laurence to encourage Australian writers to tackle the subject of poverty. It’s a vital topic that simply doesn’t get enough coverage in our press, despite the alarming statistics: one in eight people and over 600,000 children are living in poverty in Australia.

I spoke to Heidi about how it feels to win a national competition centred around such a vital topic and to be commended by a judging panel which comprised actress Cate Blanchett, author Kate Grenville and the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce.

Australia’s asylum shame

A year ago, I moved back to Australia after 10 years in Scotland.  Over these last 12 months, I’ve been relearning what it is to be Australian – not in the cliched sense, but in terms of the nuances of daily life that I’d just clean forgotten about (such aggressive driving, for example) or never even known about (the oddities of school drop offs).

But more than anything, I’ve had to confront and compute my country’s attitudes to its indigenous people and its asylum seekers. I feel like I’m seeing these issues with fresh eyes, and I really don’t like what I see.

The Dry: A scorching Aussie thriller

I’ve just finished reading what I reckon will be one of my top books of the year, The Dry by Jane Harper.  Within minutes of starting this book I knew I was in safe hands, and right to the very end I couldn’t put this book down.  It’s the kind of book that makes you miss your train stop; it’s an engrossing and very satisfying read.