Review Blog

Oct 06 2016

Breaking the boundaries edited by Yvonne Allen and Joy Noble

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Wakefield Press, 2016. ISBN 9781743054185
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Non-fiction. If you browse the contents of this collection of personal stories by activists standing up for what they believe in, you are sure to find at least one that will draw you in. For me it was 'An Indigenous prime minister in our lifetime' by Andrew Penfold. It is so inspiring, particularly at the time of the Don Dale detention horrors, to read of the real successes that the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation is having in empowering Aboriginal children to strive for a brighter future. This is the kind of program that should be fully supported and expanded throughout the country.
After reading that story, I went on to select others that I recognised, such as Julian Burnside's 'The reluctant activist', and Debra McCulloch's 'The business of sex work', then moved onto unfamiliar writers, and ended up picking up the book from time to time to read another story, until I'd read them all. There is a wide variety of issues that have inspired the activists in this book, issues of environment, human rights, gender, health and disease, disabilities, euthanasia; there is sure to be something that will draw the attention of everyone.
There are two stories by primary school students. Maddison Day writes about educating fellow school students in Aboriginal culture and history, and Mackenzie Francis-Brown went from holding Biggest Morning Teas for the Cancer Council to running a healthy eating campaign. Both provide inspirational examples for other school students to follow, a stimulus for them to find their own interests and develop a meaningful project.
The stories are all very short and easy to read. It is such a marvellous collection - it is so uplifting to read what individuals by perseverance and hard work have managed to achieve. I recommend it to anyone feeling a bit depressed by current world events; it is a great reminder that there are many good and dedicated people working for the betterment of others, and who are continuing in that life work.
Helen Eddy

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