Discover new books this NAIDOC Week

Mayor has also written a version for children called Finding Our Heart  A story about the Uluru Statement for young Australians

Bianca Valentino, Editor Intern, black&write!

As I celebrate this year’s NAIDOC week and reflect on its theme of “Heal Country” I scan my bookcase shelves, stuffed full of some of the most important writing to come out of Australia. The stories contained within the pages of these books are as diverse and unique, as their First Nations authors; they are informed by our own cultural traditions and styles.

The authors aren’t interested in following traditional Western literary conventions or bound by them, making for original and compelling reads. To truly heal Country, First Nations' voices need to be amplified and cultural knowledge embraced, as does understanding Country as part of Australia’s national heritage. First Nations stories are a gateway towards this.

I recently read Finding the Heart of the Nation The Journey of the Uluru Statement towards Voice, Treaty and Truth by Torres Strait Islander author Thomas Mayor. Mayor shares his journey across Country as he promotes the Uluru Statement’s vision of a better future for First Nations Australians. The beautiful book is filled with photographs of his travels and of people that he meets from Indigenous communities, alongside conversations with them explaining what the Uluru Statement means to them and why it’s so important.

When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are recognised with a representative Voice enshrined in the Australian Constitution, what the Uluru Statement is championing, we will finally find the heart of our nation, together, and begin to heal. Happy NAIDOC week!

Along with Ali Cobby-Eckermann, Sue McPherson was an inaugural winner of a black&write! Fellowship, in 2011

Nadia Johansen, Editor Intern, black&write!

Grace Beside Me by Sue McPherson is an ever-timely reminder to ‘sit a while’ on Country.

Fuzzy Mac is an adolescent girl growing up in a small town with her grandparents and a cast of vivid, memorable characters. Lots of people will see their own grandparents, aunties or uncles in Nan (an Aboriginal woman) and Pop (a South Sea Islander and Scottish man) who deal out love and wisdom in equal measure. Central to the story is them teaching Fuzzy that you should ‘sit a while’ and just be with Country when you need healing, insight or need to process emotions.

It is a good reminder this NAIDOC Week that as we heal Country, Country is healing us. And that we are all a part of Country so by healing ourselves we are healing Country.

Saunders has won many awards, including the 2019 Daisy Utemorrah Award at the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards  

Grace Lucas-Pennington, Editor, black&write!

As First Nations people, our sense of self includes us as individuals, and also the larger networks of kinship, community and Country. Our mental and physical health is inextricably tied the health of others, and of the lands, seas and skies we belong to.

Kirli Saunders' latest release, Bindi, is a gorgeous verse novel for mid-upper primary students, but I think readers of any age will love it!

It’s written from the point of view of 11-year-old, Bindi and her friends on Gundungurra Country, and features breathtaking illustrations by Dub Leffler. Written ‘for those who plant trees’, Bindi explores climate, bushfires, and healing.

Kirli writes that she hopes this book will help children to “understand their responsibility in caring for Country and feeling equipped or more aware on how to do that". 

This book is a gift – especially for readers who want to learn about or be inspired by the possibilities of a deeper relationship with the lands we live on. I would give this book to every person in Australia if I could.

The black&write! team at State Library of Queensland; photo is by Joe Ruckli

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