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Our Top Lockdown Reads for Educators

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A paradigm-shifting book in the vein of Sapiens that brings a crucial Indigenous perspective to historical and cultural issues of history, education, money, power, and sustainability-and offers a new template for living.

As an indigenous person, Tyson Yunkaporta looks at global systems from a unique perspective, one tied to the natural and spiritual world. In considering how contemporary life diverges from the pattern of creation, he raises important questions. How does this affect us? How can we do things differently?

In this thoughtful, culturally rich, mind-expanding book, he provides answers. Yunkaporta's writing process begins with images. Honoring indigenous traditions, he makes carvings of what he wants to say, channeling his thoughts through symbols and diagrams rather than words. He yarns with people, looking for ways to connect images and stories with place and relationship to create a coherent world view, and he uses sand talk, the Aboriginal custom of drawing images on the ground to convey knowledge.

In Sand Talk, he provides a new model for our everyday lives. Rich in ideas and inspiration, it explains how lines and symbols and shapes can help us make sense of the world. It's about how we learn and how we remember. It's about talking to everyone and listening carefully. It's about finding different ways to look at things.

Most of all it's about a very special way of thinking, of learning to see from a native perspective, one that is spiritually and physically tied to the earth around us, and how it can save our world.

Sand Talk include 22 black-and-white illustrations that add depth to the text.


‘Dark Emu injects a profound authenticity into the conversation about how we Australians understand our continent ... [It is] essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what Australia once was, or what it might yet be if we heed the lessons of long and sophisticated human occupation.’ Judges for 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating, and storing — behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. Gerritsen and Gammage in their latest books support this premise but Pascoe takes this further and challenges the hunter-gatherer tag as a convenient lie. Almost all the evidence in Dark Emu comes from the records and diaries of the Australian explorers, impeccable sources.

Bruce’s comments on his book compared to Gammage’s: “ My book is about food production, housing construction and clothing, whereas Gammage was interested in the appearance of the country at contact. [Gammage] doesn’t contest hunter gatherer labels either, whereas that is at the centre of my argument.”

Winner – Book of the Year in the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards
Winner – Indigenous Writer's Prize in the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards
Shortlisted – History Book Award in the 2014 Queensland Literary Awards
Shortlisted – 2014 Victorian Premier's Award for Indigenous Writing




'These two children have been in our Home in Townsville for more than two years, and in view of their very dark colouring, have not been assimilated into the white race. Every effort has been made to place them in a foster home without success because of their colour.' Queensland State Children's Department correspondence, 21 June 1960.

The removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families remains a dark chapter in Australia's history. Pattie Lees was just ten-years-old when she and her four siblings were separated from their mother on the grounds of neglect and placed into State care. Believing she was being shipped and exiled to Africa, Pattie was ultimately fated to spend the rest of her childhood on the island once dubbed 'Australia's Alcatraz' -Palm Island Aboriginal Settlement, off the coast of Queensland.

A Question of Colour; my journey to belonging provides a first-hand account of Pattie's experiences as a 'fair-skinned Aboriginal' during Australia's assimilationist policy era and recounts her survival following a decade of sexual, physical and emotional abuse as a Ward of the State. A Question of Colour is a deeply moving and powerful testimony to the resilience of a young girl, her identity and her journey to belong.


Winner of the NSW Regional and Community History Prize at the 2018 NSW Premier's History Awards

Contrary to what you may think, local Aboriginal people did not lose their culture and die out within decades of Governor Phillip's arrival in Sydney in 1788.

Aboriginal people are prominent in accounts of early colonial Sydney, yet we seem to skip a century as they disappear from the historical record, re-emerging early in the twentieth century. What happened to Sydney's indigenous people between the devastating impact of white settlement and increased government intervention a century later?

Hidden in Plain View shows that Aboriginal people did not disappear. They may have been ignored in colonial narratives but maintained a strong bond with the coast and its resources and tried to live on their own terms.

This original and important book tells this powerful story through individuals, and brings a poorly understood period of Sydney's shared history back into view. Its readers will never look at Sydney in the same way.




Indigenous Education in Australia Learning and Teaching for Deadly Futures Edited By Marnee Shay, Rhonda Oliver

This is an essential, practical resource for pre- and in-service educators on creating contexts for success for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Based on the latest research and practice, this book provides an in-depth understanding of the colonised context within which education in Australia is located, with an emphasis on effective strategies for the classroom. Throughout the text, the authors share their personal and professional experiences providing rich examples for readers to learn from.

Taking a strengths-based approach, this book will support new and experienced teachers to drive positive educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.


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