If you want to understand the next Prime Minister of Australia, For the Common Good is essential reading.
In For the Common Good, Bill Shorten reflects on the values and beliefs that led him to devote himself to the labour movement and stand for the nation's highest office. He looks back on the emphasis on education and social justice in his childhood in suburban Melbourne, and his many years spent empowering tens of thousands of Australians in workplaces across our continent.
Shorten examines the rapid pace of change in our modern world and offers a way forward that enables all Australians to adapt, seize new opportunities and preserve the Australian way—a prosperous society unshakeably committed to fairness. He argues that the key to unlocking a new century of national progress is in building a renewed common good between workers, businesses, governments and the community, from our cities to the regions.
In this thoughtful narrative, Bill Shorten provides a unique insight into how a Labor government will shape Australia's future for the better, for all Australians.
Tim Elliott's story - on his father and love against the odds - will split your heart open. Benjamin Law Towards the end of his first serious suicide attempts, my father said the strangest thing to me... Growing up in 1970s Sydney, Tim Elliott had a loving stay-at-home mum, a professional father, three siblings, a private school education and endless opportunities to fish and surf at the nearby beaches. But this was not the idyllic childhood it appeared. A charismatic, well-respected doctor by day, Tim's father became a roaring madman at night. The house was our castle, and Dad was our king. He was an unpredictable king, tyrannous and moody, lethal one day, loving the next. This is an extraordinary memoir of growing up with a parent afflicted by mental illness: a complex elegy, powerfully told, loaded with love, rage and surprising humour. It is about the lengths children will go to protect themselves - and their families - from shame or harm, and how adapting to that adversity becomes and intractable part of who we are as adults.
Heartbreaking, darkly funny and deeply moving, Of Ashes and Rivers That Flow to the Sea is a fearless account of being a young woman caught between two worlds. An old baptismal card falling out of a book changed the course of 28-year-old Marie Munkara's life forever. Until that moment she had no idea of her true origins in Arnhemland.
Delivered on the banks of the Mainoru River by her two grandmothers, Marie was fortunate not to have been thrown to the crocodiles, a fate reserved for babies born in her family with light skin. Knowing the child would be taken by the authorities, this matter of fact practice was considered much kinder for the babies and their families as it would save all from the heartbreak of separation and an unknown future for the child. But her grandmother Nellie had other ideas because she knew this one was 'special'. And so after the unexpected but welcome reprieve, Marie and her mother ended up on the Tiwi Islands where she was subsequently taken and placed with a white family in Adelaide to be raised.
After her chance finding of the baptismal card Marie went looking for her own family, leaving her strict Catholic establishment family aghast. Why dig up the past? But Marie knew without a doubt that she had to follow her heart or forever live to regret it. With devastating honesty, humour and courage, the award-winning author of Every Secret Thing shares her extraordinary journey of discovery to find her origins.
Anna Bligh knows something about hard knocks and high walls. She was raised by a single mother in the working class Gold Coast, a young girl with a soon-to-be-estranged dad who struggled with alcoholism. She spent over 17 years in the rough and tumble of the Queensland Parliament (seven of them as either Deputy Premier or Premier) and she was the first woman to be elected Premier of an Australian State in her own right. In 2011, she led Queensland through the devastation of Australia's largest natural disasters. Her Party then lost the 2012 State election and Anna stepped down to start a new life, only to find herself diagnosed with cancer. Writing with her trademark honesty, warmth and humour about the challenges that public and private life have thrown her, Anna reflects candidly - as a wife, mother, daughter, friend and political leader - on the lessons of leadership, resilience, community and family.
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In this exuberant and compelling memoir of family and childhood, readers will be swept away by Tom Dusevic's verve, warmth and honesty.
Suburban Sydney in the 1970s is an adventure playground, especially for a busybody, free-range kid with energy, big appetites and ungodly urges. In such open space, backyards are arenas for daydreaming and free play, scars are marks of wisdom and school is an obstacle course between pleasure and pain. And so is home, as the author tries to make sense of his parents' history and identity, known but unknowable, as post-war refugees from Croatia. He longs to be liberated from the family's quirks and the past and finds his escape in quiet moments of awe and simplicity.
This is a sensory tale of a glorious time to grow up in Australia by a visceral writer whose epiphanies are as startling as they are hilarious. From rowdy street protests and footy crowds, to the serenity of the Roselands Raindrop Fountain and storm-water canals, to the fevered set of a TV quiz show and the disco floor, Dusevic launches himself into the whole wild world.
Take Me to Paris, Johnny is John Foster's moving yet unsentimental account of the life of his partner, Juan Céspedes. It traces Juan's youth in Cuba and his move to New York, where he struggles to make it as a dancer. There, in 1981 - in 'a chance encounter, much like any other' - he meets John, an Australian historian.
What begins as just a fling becomes a dazzling six-year affair. The two travel between New York, Berlin and Melbourne, struggling with bureaucracy in their quest to gain Juan residency in Australia, then with the disease taking the lives of gay men around the globe. To the end, Juan - 'an exotic bird, the only one of his kind' in Melbourne - is captivating, witty, headstrong.
First published in 1993, not long before John Foster's death, Take Me to Paris, Johnny is brilliant and unflinching, at once controlled and impassioned: a love story told with humour and unerring skill. This edition includes an introduction by Peter Craven and an expanded biographical portrait of the author by John Rickard.
Gynaecologists Catherine and Reg Hamlin left Australia in 1959 on a short contract to establish a midwifery school in Ethiopia. Almost 50 years later, Catherine is still there, running one of the most outstanding medical programs in the world. Through this work, thousands of women have been able to resume a normal existence after living as outcasts.
The Hamlins dedicated their lives to women suffering the catastrophic effects of obstructed labour - a problem easily dealt with in the developed world by assisted delivery or caesarean section, but disastrous without medical intervention. The awful injuries that such labour produces are called fistulae, and until the Hamlins began their work in Ethiopia, fistula sufferers were neglected and forgotten - a vast group of women facing a lifetime of incapacity and degradation.
Catherine and Reg have successfully operated on almost 30,000 women, and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, the hospital they opened in 1975, has become a major teaching institution for surgeons from all over Ethiopia, Africa and the developing world. Since Reg's death, Catherine has continued their work.
As well as being made a companion of the Order of Australia, being awarded the ANZAC Peace Prize and the coveted Gold Medal from the Royal College of Surgeons, Catherine was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. The Hospital by the River is Catherine's story. Set against the vivid backdrop of Ethiopia, it is a moving and utterly compelling account of an extraordinary life.
For fans of HOOKED by Samantha X and IN MY SKIN by Kate Holden. Leigh Hopkinson was the least likely person to become a stripper but after spending two decades naked, she realised it was her career - and her life.
When Leigh Hopkinson was a university student in Christchurch she worked at a succession of low-paying jobs that paid the rent and fit in around her degree. None of them fit so well, however, as stripping. She figured it couldn't be that difficult - she was just going to dance on stage in front of a bunch of strangers. She'd show them a bit of skin, but the gig wasn't going to last that long. Or so she imagined.
While stripping was harder than Leigh thought it would be, she hadn't counted on it being so exhilarating - or lucrative. So when she moved to Melbourne and needed to make a living, the lure of her old job was strong. The world of the strip club had become familiar, even reassuring, though some of the people she met during the course of her job didn't exactly give her faith in the future of humanity.
Over the course of Leigh's career, she learnt a lot about other people and even more about herself, and the result is a story that delves into a world that not everyone visits but everyone finds fascinating.
The Grass Was Always Browner is a memoir of growing up and away from an eccentric family in a regular Sydney suburban backyard, travelling all the way to the Outback and on to London wearing pink pointe ballet shoes.
Girls born in suburban Sydney in the 70s were rarely called Sacha. Particularly girls destined to be ballet dancers. Overcoming her real, ordinary-as, insufficiently Russian name was the first of many trials Sacha had to endure growing up, including the wearing of No Frills brown socks, white frizzy hair and a flat-as-a-pancake chest.
Probably the most valuable trial was learning that suppositories can make you vomit and aren't a reliable cure for asthma, something that Sacha in turn had to teach the local doctors. And just as well, because without that valuable lesson the doctors would never have put their heads together to come up with an alternative treatment that involved neither suppositories nor vomit. Instead Sacha got to learn ballet, learning to pull up and turn out, and from there, life itself began to pull up.
Taking to ballet despite a build that was all wrong, thanks to ill-advised addictions to Nestle's pink milk and sugar laden home-made lemonade, Sacha goes on to become something of a dancing star and no-one is more surprised than her teacher, the legendary Mrs P - an actual Russian. But there's a dark side to success for Sacha and more lessons must be learned on and off the stage, including that the greenroom of the Sydney Opera House is not actually green...
All this unlikely learning makes The Grass was Always Browner a romp of a memoir and a cautionary tale of the be-careful-what-you-wish-for variety.
At the age of 38 acclaimed novelist Julia Leigh made her first visit to the IVF clinic, full of hope. So started a long and costly journey of nightly injections, blood tests, surgeries and rituals. Writing in the immediate aftermath of her decision to stop treatment, Leigh lays bare the truths of her experience: the highs of hope and the depths of disappointment; the grip of yearning and desire; the toll on her relationships; the unexpected graces and moments of black humour. Along the way she navigates the science of IVF; copes with the impact of treatment; and reconciles the seductive promises of the worldwide multi-billion-dollar IVF industry with reality. Avalanche is the book that's finally been written on IVF treatment: a courageous, compelling and ultimately wise account of a profoundly important and widespread experience. At the heart of this work is an exploration of who and how we love. It's a story we can all relate to - about the dreams we have, defeated or otherwise, for ourselves, our loves and relationships.
The good thing about being my age is that if you haven't grown up already, you don't have to.
What do you do when you start talking to yourself on the bus? If you're the writer Brigid Lowry, you change tack and write a book about what it means to be an ageing woman in the 21st century
In Still Life with Teapot Lowry offers advice, observations, hope and reality checks in equal measure. She drops us straight into the writer's world – into the nuts and bolts of writing practice and into the art of life and ways to write about it.
Still Life with Teapot is an essential brew for people who love to make lists, for people who love to write and for people who love to read about writing.
In 1965, Robin, unmarried and pregnant, comes to Melbourne to give birth and give her baby up for adoption, then returns to Perth to resume her life having never seen her baby. After 10 days alone, the baby, is taken home, named Susannah, and made part of a wonderful family that loves her. The adoption laws at the time guarantee that there can be no contact between birth mother and child. Ever.
In 1984, the law is changed and sealed files can be opened. In 1989 Robin tries to make contact with Susannah who is now the same age as Robin was when she had her. Susannah replies to Robin in a letter, declining contact.
In 2014, Susannah, at the same age Robin was when she wrote her first letter, writes Robin a different letter. The heartlines open. After nearly fifty years apart, a mother and daughter are reunited. But the path to a relationship is not smooth. Very few adoption reunions result in meaningful, long-term reconnection. The fragile relationships stumble and fall under the weight of years of repressed anger, hurt, grief and loss, different beliefs and of whole lives spent apart. A feeling of connection isn't enough. You have to fight for a relationship.
This is the story of two women who did. The raw openness of their writing and the breakneck speed of their reconnection is compelling. Heartlines is at once both unique and universal. It's a story of courage and what can happen when you open rather than close your heart; when you decide to stay just as every fearful instinct tells you to run away.
Heartlines is about connection and reconnection and why relationships are worth the fight. It is a piercingly honest and often hilarious story of what it takes to reconnect – and stay there – after a lifetime apart.
Fast-paced, warm and funny, this is an adoption story that pulls the reader on to a wonderful if wobbly rollercoaster ride, exploring themes of family, motherhood, loss, belonging, hope, courage and the importance of never giving up.
'My work as a filmmaker has taken me to some wild, dangerous places. I've filmed in Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Cambodia and more. It's been a crazy, peripatetic kind of life, taking me to war zones or desperately poor, chaotic, unstable countries. I've been sick, injured, scared and had too many close calls to mention.I spend a lot of time alone, in airports, lugging camera gear, gazing up at flickering departure boards. But I love it. I love the feeling I get when I am heading into the unknown. All I want to do is tell the important stories.'
Personal, gripping and compelling, this memoir documents Australian filmmaker Eva Orner's behind-the-scenes journey making of her Chasing Asylum documentary on Australia's treatment of asylum seekers.
Feeling angry and disappointed with Australia's refugee policies and practices, the Oscar and Emmy award-winning filmmaker returned to Australia from a decade living in the States to make a documentary about what she describes as Australia's 'woefully inadequate' treatment of asylum seekers. Embarking on a tumultuous eighteen months, Eva filmed in Indonesia, Cambodia, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iran - where, if she'd been caught filming, she would have been hanged - and spoke to everyone from asylum seekers to politicians, from activists to commentators, from David Marr to Malcolm Fraser, from returned refugees in Iran to would-be refugees in Afghanistan. She smuggled a pen camera into an Indonesian jail to interview a convicted people smuggler, she interviewed whistleblowers in Australia, and in Iran she spoke to the family of a man who was killed in the Manus Island riots.
Chasing Asylum, her memoir, is a very personal story of the cost, risks and rewards of putting yourself on the line for a film and for a cause - and also an insightful, provocative, challenging look at an issue which should outrage us all.
Frank Vajda, a major figure in Australian neurology, was a boy in Budapest, Hungary, during the Second World War. He witnessed the attempt by Hitler’s Nazis and a fascist Hungarian militia to murder him, his family and the rest of the Jews of this nation. Frank survived in the care of his courageous and ever-resourceful mother.
In Saved to Remember Vajda vividly and matter-of-factly conveys what life was like for Jews trying to stay alive in a world where the law of the land, backed up by brute soldierly force, suddenly determined that they were to be killed, and how they hid, bluffed, and fought to avoid that fate.
Vajda pays tribute to those who did not survive, including his father, and to those who did their best to save them, amongst whom the name of Raoul Wallenberg, Swedish diplomat, shines most brightly. Saved to Remember is also an account of Vajda’s ongoing campaign, within the journey of his life, to publicly recognise and honour those, particularly Wallenberg, who risked their own lives in the attempt to save Jewish life.
A topical, insightful investigation into a drug that has taken a ferocious grip on societies around the world - told by a man intimately acquainted with it. Luke Williams was a freelance journalist researching addiction to crystallised methamphetamine (commonly known as crystal meth or ice) when the worst possible thing happened - he became addicted himself. Over the next three months, he was seduced by the drug and descended into psychosis. This confronting and illuminating story charts Luke's recovery from the drug, and his investigation into its usage and prevalence in Australia and the Western world. In examining what led to his addiction, Luke also explores the social problems that surround ice, scrutinising whether its abuse is in fact an epidemic, with what we're experiencing now merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg, or yet another moral panic about the underclass. Luke traces the history of methamphetamine from its legal usage in the early 20th century to its contemporary relevance as one of the most foreboding and talked-about illicit drugs in the world, and his search for answers sees him visiting meth labs, interviewing addicts and law-enforcement officials, and witnessing firsthand the effects of the drug on individuals, families, and the healthcare system. Combining memoir with reportage, The Ice Age is a vital, compelling first-person account, and an investigation into a drug that is fast becoming the subject of national discussion throughout the Western world.
How could it be wrong to save the children by starting an orphanage? Oh, in so many ways...
Tara Winkler first arrived in Cambodia to join a tour group in 2005 and was taken to visit a small orphanage in Battambang. The children were living in extreme poverty, and Tara was determined to raise money to help them.
Two years later, after fundraising in Australia, Tara returned to Battambang only to discover that the same children were in deep trouble. Her spontaneous response was to find them a new, safe, home. With a team of committed locals and support from friends, she established the Cambodian Children's Trust (CCT).
With an instant family of fourteen children and three dogs, Tara had to learn a lot, very fast. And, along the way, she realised that many of the actions she took with good intentions were not at all what the children needed - or indeed, what any child needs. CCT now helps vulnerable children to escape poverty and be cared for within their families.
In this compelling, poignant and funny memoir, Tara shares the many joys and the terrible lows of her journey thus far with honesty and passion. Written with co-writer Lynda Delacey, this is a book that will keep you thinking long after you turn the final page.
Henry Nissen was a champion boxer, the boy from Amess Street in working-class Carlton who fought his way up to beat some of the world's best in the 1970s. Now, he works on the Melbourne docks, loading and unloading, taking shifts as they come up. But his real work is on the streets. He's in and out of police stations and courts giving character statements and providing support, working to give the disaffected another chance.
And all the while, in the background is the memory of another fighter, his mother - and her devastating decline into madness.
The Fighter is a moving and poetic portrait of a compassionate man, but also a window onto the unnoticed recesses of Melbourne.