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Barbara often found herself using the Aussie saying, “the stork dropped me at the wrong house” only to find she was repeating her mother’s words. In this riveting historical memoir exploring race relations and social change, Aboriginal elder Burnum Burnum, told her, “you may be white but you have a black heart, as you understand my people and feel our heart.” He suggested to IDA that she take on the Mapoon Aborigines project and she was pivotal to helping them move back to their land after they had been forced off to make way for mining.
This is a highly engaging and inspiring memoir. At its centre is the story of Mapoon which has all the elements of a great drama with the violent expulsion of the community in 1963 and their triumphant return eleven years later. As the author explains she came almost by chance to be at the very centre of the drama which in turn dramatically changed her life. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in political and social change over the last 50 years.
Professor Henry Reynolds, FAHA FASSA University of Tasmania, eminent historian and award-winning author
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“If I Survive.” This thought haunted Lena. Her loved ones were cruelly forced from her arms in the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland and perished in Treblinka Death Camp.
This is a truly beautiful collaboration between the author and her subject, who have together produced an invaluable documentation of a unique, moving, life story set against the backdrop of one of the darkest moments in human history. To read “If I Survive” is to meet a remarkable person and to be touched by her intense humanity in an inhuman world.
Jeremy Jones AM, former President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and Director, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council
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Did the deep north of Australia experience racism, discrimination and segregation? Yes. But it was different from the deep south of the USA. A system similar to South African apartheid existed on Aboriginal reserves like Yarrabah in Queensland till as recently as 1984. This book is unique in that Australian Aborigines themselves tell their story of living under legal discrimination on reserves and discusses their aspirations for self-determination, local government, human rights and land rights with a view to end racism.
It is entirely appropriate that Barbara Miller is the one to write an update on Yarrabah’s efforts at self-determination and land rights, as she does not just stand on the sideline and cheer us on. She often jumps into the fray herself.
No doubt many people who were or still are involved in some degree in the push for Aboriginal social justice and human rights and all that that encompasses, plus interested persons, will be attracted to Barbara Miller’s latest case study. This book gives a succinct report of how things have turned out in the last thirty years.
… Her reporting skills and love for Aboriginal people are recognised by friend and foe alike, with her work being quoted by such bodies as the Human Rights Commission.
Rev Michael Connolly, Former Chairman of Yarrabah Aboriginal Council