Finding our heart by Thomas Mayor

cover image

Illus. by Blak Douglas. Hardie Grant Travel, 2020. ISBN: 9781741177176.
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Subtitled A story about the Uluru Statement for young Australians, this beautifully illustrated picture book provides insight into the history and intention of the 'Uluru Statement from the Heart'.
From the first page, this book drew me in with its depiction of an adult and two kids sharing a laugh over cups of tea at the kitchen table. One child has their leg comfortably drawn up on the chair, arms thrown back in laughter, all three faces with wide grins, in a very happy relaxed scene. The words 'We live in a big, beautiful country' capture the feeling of familiarity and being at home.
It goes on to describe Australia as a country that includes people from many parts of the world, and shows the map with flags from Lebanon, China, Japan, France, Italy, Israel, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.
The next page shows the place before it was called Australia, with the AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia with its many language and tribal groups. There is a reminder that Aboriginal people are the original caretakers of the country, and are the oldest living culture on the planet.
But there is a problem, the First Nations people were treated badly, the country is sad, and no-one can find the heart of the nation.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart was the outcome of a 2017 gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all parts of the land, and is an invitation to accept Aboriginal voice and culture as a gift to be respected and appreciated. It is an opportunity to listen to Aboriginal people, and learn about how to care for our environment.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart suggests that First Nations people should have a Voice, a Treaty, and Truth about the past. An image shows the statement with all the signatures around the borders of the page.
While the book is presented as a children's story about the search to find the heart of the nation, and can be enjoyed on that level with the simple text and colourful illustrations, the final pages give the statement in full so that all readers can appreciate the heart-felt appeal for a new respectful relationship between the government and the First Nations people. And there are two pages of suggestions of what each person can do to 'help find our heart'. Teaching resources are available on the website of The Uluru Statement.
Themes: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Reconciliation, Caring for Country.
Helen Eddy