What's On

9 March
Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover - Living Library

Borrow a human library book each week in March and hear some of the most fascinating, heart wrenching, challenging, personal stories with a focus on Aboriginal issues and culture. Take the opportunity to ask any questions you may have and prepare to come away forever changed.

Please note: the program is subject to change, Human library books may continue to be added to the program.


Saturday 9 March

Pauline Boscato – ‘Aboriginal Women in the Justice System”

Some of the most disconnected, disregarded and misunderstood women fill our prisons and criminal justice systems in WA, Australia and internationally. In relation to psychological development men and women develop differently, women develop a sense of self and self-worth when their actions arise out of, and lead back into connections with others, disconnection in relationships is the source of psychological problems and trauma.

In undertaking the research Pauline came away with a unique understanding of how to improve relationships within the justice system which can just as easily be applied to the general population.

Corina Abraham – ‘The Cultural Divide in Health’

Whadjuk Nyoongar woman, Corina Abraham is known for her passion and activism, but what many may not know is that she is also a living example that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost four times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

At 41, Corina has faced several amputations, is on home dialysis and is fighting not just for better conditions for aboriginal people, but also for her life.

Jenny Cockie – ’50 Years of Inequality’

Jenny Cocky has also experienced the toll Colonisation has has taken on Aboriginal health, as a qualified nurse, someone living with Diabetes and being diagnosed twice with Cancer.

She has also felt the effects of the conflict affecting aboriginal youth and issues of justice, with four of her grandsons (the youngest, 11) being jailed after being involved in a brawl which ended the life of another young aboriginal man. Growing up as an Aboriginal woman in the sixties, she has had more than four decades to experience and observe the changes in equality between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Australians.

So how much progress have we actually made?


Saturday 16 March

Scott Chisholm – ‘Racism in Sport’

Racism in sport in Australia has been recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission as being exhibited by players, spectators, officials, coaches and media commentators.

Inaugural Fremantle Docker, Scott Chisholm made international headlines in 1999 during only his second game for the Melbourne Football Club when St Kilda player Peter Everitt was caught on camera making racist slurs directed at him. A fine of $20,000 and mediation between the pair went some way to resolving the incident, but the damage one incident of racial vilification can have on people who experience it cumulatively on a day to day basis, has much wider consequences.

Sharon Calgaret – ‘Reconnecting Family’

The removal of Aboriginal children from parents has been official policy in all states of Australia since the so-called Protection era. Missionaries established the practice in the 1800s to instil Christian virtues of obedience, punctuality and religious observance in Aboriginal people. It was not until the 1950s that a reduction occurred in enforced separation, however it was still believed that non- Aboriginal parents could more quickly assimilate a black child, so great pressure was placed on young Aboriginal mothers to have their children adopted by non-Aboriginal people.

Sharon Calgaret knew her sister was taken, and searched her whole life to reconnect, but it was only a few months ago, through a fortuitous coincidence, that she finally found her.

Farley Garlett – ‘When Two Worlds Collide’

There is no doubt the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people has done tremendous damage to generations.  The mistreatment, the massacres, loss of land, introduction of diseases…but government policy throughout history has perhaps in more insidious ways, continued to wreak havoc on families and whole communities.  Basic human rights that most Australians take for granted, such as freedom of speech, to vote for our representatives, to speak our own language, to marry who we choose, to raise our children, to have reasonable access to health, wellbeing, justice and a decent education, have been compromised and even denied Aboriginal people throughout history. Farley Garlett knows the impact this has had on his people all too well.  As the former WA Commissioner of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, he is a strong advocate for Aboriginal people and has vast experience working with at risk youth, Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal families.  He has held many high level positions over the years on both local and national Indigenous governance committees as well as being responsible for Aboriginal relations on mining sites throughout the state. Government legislation's impact on Aboriginal people is something Farley Garlett knows a lot about.


Saturday 23 March

Sharon Gregory – Keeping Language Alive

More than 250 Aboriginal language groups covered the continent at the time of European settlement in 1788. Today only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost as Elders pass away. Language is more than just a means to communicate, it is an essential characteristic unique to people and communities, and plays a central role in a sense of identity.

Thankfully, passionate Nyoongar teachers like Sharon Gregory are determined to see their traditional language survive and thrive by sharing the language with students of all ages and from all backgrounds.

Brendan Moore – Finding the Truth in Oral History

Historians always strive to find the truth, and smart historians know that “history is written by the victors”. There is no shortage of documentation to back up claims by the white settlers and explorers about their perspectives of our country and its people. But what about those who never lived to tell their tale?

Australian History in schools used to begin with colonisation, as though there was nothing and no-one before. When scientists and historians value documented evidence over anecdotal evidence, what happens to a history that is predominantly oral?

Noongar man and City of Fremantle Aboriginal Engagement Officer, Brendan Moore is passionate about finding the truth, and recognises the challenges of removing emotion to ultimately find the truth about the past.


Saturday 30 March

Lois Olney – Where did Baby Brenda Go?

While sitting round the campfire,

'Longside the Harding River bed,

“Where's my baby, baby Brenda ?”,

The sad and crying voice it said.

This is the start of a poem written by Malcolm McBain which has since been used in an emotional song based on the start of jazz singer Lois Olney's life. As unique as her story is to her, it is an example of a far too common one of displaced aboriginal children and the subsequent lifelong search to discover their identity. 

Genealogy and History - Bev Port Louis

If you’ve ever delved into researching your family tree, you’ll know just how fascinating it can be.  For Bev Port Louis, this interest developed into a full blown passion.  Her passion for genealogy has unravelled many truths, some which contradict the popular opinion of anthropologists.  Bev’s great grandfather was Captain Peter Hedland, the man Port Hedland was named after, and she has connections right through WA. A living example of how “history is written by the victors”, Bev’s research and personal knowledge of our country’s history challenges many of the currently accepted facts, and further reinforces the value of people’s personal stories in building a more accurate history.  

Tyearra Schultz – Connecting to Culture

There are many gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in justice, health, education and employment, just to name a few.  Increasingly though, various sectors throughout the country are adopting Reconciliation Action Plans to encourage stronger relationships with local Aboriginal communities, promote leadership and attempt to address these gaps. One common action includes increasing Aboriginal employment through traineeships.  Tyearra Schultz undertook the Indigenous Employment program through Skill Invest in 2017 and was placed at the City of Fremantle.  She had the opportunity to work in several areas across the organisation, and the traineeship has resulted in an ongoing contract. Tyearra is teaching art classes, designing original colouring in pages and learning the ropes of programming and administration of a cultural centre.  Her personal story is also of interest, with her connection to culture in some ways just beginning. She has been raised by her non-Aboriginal mother and has been navigating relationships with many half-siblings and cousins.  In spite of the disconnection to the Aboriginal side of her family, all you have to do is look at the art she is producing to know that the connection to culture runs much deeper.


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