This week Black Dog Books released my first non-fiction book, Our Stories – Protest in Australia – What Do We Want? It’s latest book in the award-winning Our Stories series for middle readers (Yr 5 – Yr 8).
In many ways the writing process for a non-fiction book is different from that of a novel, yet for me there was on similarity. The constant was my mantra – just write it – fix it later! It’s taken me a long time to tame my inner critic, years and years in fact. It’d be fair to say that I haven’t so much tamed it, but subdued it. It’s always lurking, pacing and ready to pounce. But that mantra helps keep it in the background and frees me up to make mistakes.
One of the sheer delights of writing non-fiction is discovering more about inspirational people like Charles Perkins, Eddie Mabo, Bob Brown,Vincent Lingiari and Vida Goldstein. All of them were incredibly brave, dedicated, determined and inspiring, but one woman particularly grabbed my attention. Perhaps it was her cheeky grin in photo after photo, her steely determination, or the fact she died while I was writing Protest. Whatever the reason, I was, and remain, in awe of civil activist, Faith Bandler. At a time when racism and sexism were the norm in society, Faith took a stand. She lobbied politicians, addressed public meetings, marched in rallies and spoke out against the inequality around her. Her life was dedicated to Aboriginal rights and legal equality.
She helped form the Aboriginal Australian Fellowship, was a member of FCAATSI, (Federal Council for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders) and a driving force in campaigns for change. Faith played vital roles in Aboriginal people being granted the vote and the successful 1967 Referendum. In her life, she was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1984 for service to aboriginal welfare, the Human Rights Medal and Companion of the Order of Australia in 2009. She died on February 13, 2015. If you haven’t read much about Faith Bandler before, Our Stories – Protest in Australia, What Do We Want is a great place to start.