The first Sunday in July marks the start of NAIDOC Week. The name derives from the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee: a group of organizers and activists who worked to raise awareness of Australia’s Indigenous populations, following a long history of Aboriginal-lead rights movements. In 1975 the first week of national activities was held under the NADOC acronym (the ‘I’ was a more recent addition to respect the cultural differences of Islander people) and now it’s an annual celebration and reflection of the history and continued contributions of Indigenous populations.

The 2018 theme is women: Mothers, elders, sisters, daughters, doctors, teachers, students, electricians,​ entrepreneurs, icons… ‘Because of Her, We Can!’

In previous blog posts we’ve looked at ways that Aboriginal histories are told through material in our vast collection​; family history; and arts. This year we’re focusing on our ebooks so that we can reach all Victorians. Whether you live in Melbourne or Manangatang, log in from home with your valid State Library card number to experience these inspiring stories and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

(Not a library member? Join up online and receive your card in the mail. Ebook help is available at our Using Ebooks guide.)

Heading into the Library? See our second NAIDOC Week reading list.

Book cover: Anonymous premonitionAnonymous premonition (2012)

Lyrical yet radical, uplifting yet uncompromising, Yvette Holt’s poetry evokes pride, painful memories, the realities of Aboriginal life and death, and the power of sisterhood to act as a tribute to the resilience​ of Aboriginal women everywhere.






Book cover: Black SwanBlack Swan: A Koorie woman’s life (2011)

Eileen Harrison grew up at the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Mission Station in the 1950s but is wrenched to Ararat under a new assimilation policy. After many years she discovers her talent as a painter and builds a new life for herself. Powerfully told in Eileen’s words, her experiences speak eloquently of what has happened to Aboriginal people over the last half-century.




Faith: Faith Bandler, gentle activistBook cover: Faith (2002)

This is the story of Faith Bandler‘s extraordinary life, her journey from a childhood nurtured in a South Sea Islander community in northern New South Wales to national recognition as one of Australia’s leading human rights activists.






Book cover: A Widi WomanJoan Martin (Yarrna): A Widi woman (2011)

The life story of Joan Martin is that of a fierce Aboriginal woman who fought for the rights of her community. Her autobiography also tells of the Aboriginal experience in general since World War II.






Book cover: Listen to Ngarrindjeri Women SpeakingListen to Ngarrindjeri Women speaking: Kungun Ngarrindjeri Miminar Yunnan (2008)

When the Ngarrindjeri women of South Australia asked Diane Bell if she would work with them in the running of some workshops to develop a booklet about culture and governance, none of them realised quite where it would take them. This book is the result. It outlines their visions for a future in which their culture is respected, their stories heard, their laws carried out.



My Place: AutobiographyBook cover: My place (1987)

In 1982, Sally Morgan travelled back to her grandmother’s birthplace. A tentative search for information about her family turned into an overwhelming emotional and spiritual pilgrimage, finally freeing the tongues of the author’s mother and grandmother, allowing them to tell their own stories.





Book cover: Not just black and whiteNot just black and white (2015)

Told with honesty and humor, Not just black and white is an extraordinary memoir from mother and daughter determined to make sure history is not forgotten. Respected Murri Elder Lesley Williams worked under the Queensland Protection Act and received token pocket money while her wages were kept in trust by the government. A nine-year battle to reclaim her savings ended at the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child conference in Switzerland.




Book cover: Under a Bilari tree I bornUnder a Bilari tree I born (2015)

Bringing up nine children of your own is a major achievement in itself. Bringing up a further 15 foster children is truly remarkable. By the time Alice Bilari Smith had five children of her own she was playing an active role in caring for other Aboriginal children, and she initiated the establishment of the Homemakers Centre in Roebourne. Both a remarkable life and a typical life, Alice’s story is insightful and inspiring.





Whispers of this Wik WomanBook cover: Whispers of this wik woman (2004)

This absorbing and personal account of Wik activist Jean George Awumpun offers a rare understanding of Aboriginal identity and traditional land. To illustrate her proud Alngith Wikwaya beginnings, Awumpun’s early history is told through family member and Alngith descendant Fiona Doyle. This ancestral history combines with the story of Awumpun’s struggle in the Wik native title claims, which advanced the earlier Mabo Decision onto mainland Australia.​




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Books celebrating NAIDOC Week 2018


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