The Shocking Truth of Recent Australian Aboriginal History, A Memoir (First Nations True Stories)
Authored by Barbara Miller
Also Available on Amazon
Barbara Russell, a young woman from a white working-class family. A ruthless Premier Bjelke-Petersen enforcing legal discrimination. What secrets lie hidden? What lies are being told?
Barbara couldn’t stand by and watch the feud of the people with governments and miners strip Australian Aboriginal communities of all they held dear. Not if she could help.
Was she strong enough to make a difference for the people, resist the temptation of love, and stand up to her family too?
In this story of secrets, lies, ideological conflict and racial discrimination laws, Barbara teams up with Mick, an Aboriginal schoolteacher. They organise remote Australian Aboriginal people to fight Bjelke and the mining companies that encroach on their land. But Bjelke has a few tricks up his sleeve and will use all in his powers in this police state to stop them. If the Aboriginal people fail, more of them will die in poverty and desperation.
Can the church take on the state and win in this epic battle as the church stands with the Aboriginals to challenge racism? This historical memoir is another sizzling story in the First Nations True Stories series.
With the current debate in Australia of “Voice Treaty Truth” and the worldwide issue of Black Lives Matter, this book gives many key Aboriginal people a voice and reveals the shocking truth of the hidden history of 1975 to 2021 in a near-novel like manner. Every important historical event is covered. This is one of the social justice books that you will want on your shelf. The political activism examples are not those of keyboard warriors but those of a people who took to the trenches.
If you like fast-paced action, real-life heroes, and the window opened on another culture, this book is for you. If you like books with political intrigue that bring to life an interesting historical period, you’ll love Secrets and Lies.
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“Secrets and Lies: The Shocking Truth of Recent Aboriginal History, A Memoir, is both a political chronicle and a personal memoir – a journey the young Barbara took into political activism and personal transformation, which became life-long. Barbara Miller shows the political and the personal can be two sides of a life journey of service.
There is critical history in this book from an activist on the inside. Yet the book also shows that political activism is not enough. It must be balanced by personal integrity and pursuit. The journey from the political into the personal, with fulfillment in spiritual practice, is also illuminating. Can we do one without the other? I think not, whatever the spiritual practice is.
Barbara’s book bought memories of the days of the Aboriginal Co-ordinating Council (ACC), both of us working at different levels within the ACC to respond to the directions and needs of the old reserve mission controls moving into deeds of grant in trust and ‘self-management’. Barbara’s political background provided essential insight and sound analysis. Mine saw the failure of the services delivered by a racist regime, with the ACC working to meet their legislative responsibilities. Barbara supported this work through research. Hers has been an inspirational journey of service at many levels.”
“Secrets and Lies contains exciting examples of the battles by the indigenous people of QLD against a repressive state regime which greedily sought to control their land and their lives in order to exploit the natural resources. They have developed a remarkable capacity for developing relationships with non-indigenous people who have joined them in their struggle. Barbara has been admitted, not only into their confidence, but also into their families and has achieved remarkable advantages for them in those battles.”
“Secrets and Lies – A powerful, hard-hitting yarn, from the grassroots of Cape York community-life through to the necessary development of life-changing political activism on Cape York in the 1970s and 80s.
This is a story which needs to be told and has to be taught, with lessons to learn about what should be done, and how it should (and shouldn’t) be done.
These yarns are at the roots of what still happens today, in this day and age, making it an essential read for anyone who has ties or in an interest, not just in the Cape York landscape, but across all of Government/Aboriginal politics.
A well-written and fascinating contextual read for anyone with a passion for justice for Aboriginal people.”
“This memoire, Secrets and Lies, tells the story of important events in the relationship between the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments and Aboriginal people on Aurukun and Mornington Island and their struggle to maintain control of their lives in the face of paternalism and racism. It does so from the perspective of the author, who had a unique opportunity to observe the events in which Aboriginal leaders participated and recount the conversations which occurred at meetings between community members and with politicians who played key roles in these events along with what was played out in the public arena and recorded in the media.
It paints an intimate picture of the individuals involved and brings to life the impact which actions of Government have had upon them at a personal and structural level. It provides a detailed insight into how a grass-roots activist organisation, the North Queensland Land Council, with a charismatic leader, Mick Miller, was able to operate in a regional, State, national and international arena in its advocacy of self-determination for Aboriginal people.
It traces the history of on-going advocacy of the author for Aboriginal people and the challenges they face through various changes of direction in her personal life. It is a unique and valuable record of the observations and participation of the author in activism which has as its unwavering focus a dedication to the cause of social justice for Indigenous people.”
Greg McIntyre SC, Barrister
AUTHOR BIO – BARBARA MILLER
Barbara Miller has been involved in Aboriginal politics and history first hand for about 50 years working for Aboriginal organizations such as the North Queensland Land Council as newspaper editor and research officer and the Aboriginal Coordinating Council as CEO. She is a psychologist, sociologist, historian and social justice advocate. Author of ten books and part of an Aboriginal family, she brings an insider view to her writing.
Barbara’s first memoir, White Woman Black Heart: Journey Home to Old Mapoon, A Memoir was short-listed in 2018 for the Queensland Literary Award for the major award, the Premier’s Award for a “Work of State Significance.”
Professor Henry Reynolds FAHA FASSA University of Tasmania, eminent historian and award-winning author described Barbara’s writing as “essential reading for anyone interested in political and social change over the last 50 years.”
She lives in Cairns, Australia with her husband Norman and son Michael.
This book has been a labor of love as I wanted to tell some of the stories of key events and key people in Aboriginal history that I have been close to. I have profound respect for the people in these pages and I wanted their stories to be told. In some way, to varying degrees, their lives have become entwined with mine.
My memoir, White Woman Black Heart was too long, so in mid-2017, I pulled out about 50,000 words written mostly in 2016 and published White Woman Black Heart in March 2018. I planned to use the chapters I took out to write a second memoir and wondered if I would ever get back to it.
Then in November 2020, I had a dream where I was taken to Aurukun Aboriginal community, and saw an elder, a relative by marriage. In my dream, I thought ‘but you’ve passed away’. Then I saw a young Aboriginal girl who I thought might be his great granddaughter. She pointed to a mobile phone of all things and said, “This is your story. You need to tell it.” Surprised, I didn’t say anything. The next morning, I remembered the dream clearly and that the first few chapters of my unfinished second memoir were about Aurukun. This gave me the inspiration and motivation to pick up the pieces and finish the writing.