‘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.

Resistance and Remembrance: Us Women, Our Ways, Our World

I had always thought, erroneously it turns out, that protests against Australia Day were a relatively new phenomenon. Yet since 1938 protesters have marched against the 25th of January being an Australian national holiday because it ‘celebrates’ Europeans landing on this continent. Known as the Day of Mourning, this 1930s protest was one of the first major civil rights gatherings in the world.

The genesis of NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week lies in the Day of Mourning, but unlike this earlier day of commiseration, NAIDOC week now is a series of celebratory events. It’s this approach – one of recognition and remembrance, as well as resistance – that Us Women, Our Ways, Our World takes to investigating the lived experience of Aboriginal women, through fourteen different pieces of writing. It seems fitting to take a closer look at this book during NAIDOC week.

Mullumbimby: another must-read Australian novel

I love it when I pick up a book, for which I hold no expectations and know very little about, and am totally captivated by it. This was how it went with Mullumbimby.  I reckon Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko will feature in my top five books of 2016;  it’s funny, tender, instructive and a page-turner all at once.

Fourteen preschoolers, two Indigenous books and a LOT of excitement

Magabala Books recently sent me two children’s books to review – Return of the Dinosaurs and Cheeky Animals. I find it hard to review kids’ books because in the end, it doesn’t really matter whether I like the book!

Then I thought, who better to review these books than Master Five and his pals from kindergarten. So last week I headed into his early learning centre to do a group reading with him and his classmates.

I was actually a bit nervous as I walked through the doors.  What if other kids aren’t as into books as mine? Would they find me dull? Do five-year olds heckle?