In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses' Stories

Reviews of In Our Own Right

This book grew from the first meeting of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSIN) held in August 1997. It consists of 23 individual stories of Aboriginal nurses. Each of these stories is powerful in its own right. As a white Australian, I was humbled by these extraordinary people's experiences. As a woman, I could empathize with some of the battles that they had fought but I had no real concept of their other battles until reading this book.

Each story tells of racism - both institutional and individual - that these writers have had to endure. While there are some men included in the book, it is primarily the stories of strong women - the writers, their mothers, grandmothers, sisters and extended families. The stories are written in a matter-of-fact manner with no bitterness or resentment. In many cases, reading between the lines, it is obvious that there are many hurts - both personal and professional - that are not told. The stories become more powerful as a result of this understatement.

The book contains an insight into a profession that is seen from the outside as caring and nurturing. It is unfortunate that these ideals are not always reflected within the profession. These stories hopefully will assist changes to be made in various areas so that all nurses, regardless of colour, are evaluated in terms of their humanity. It provides lessons to educators and practitioners that should not be ignored.

Without wishing to trivialize the book, it had, for me, two very important messages that were either explicit or implicit in the stories. The first is 'I am not a victim'. The writers chose to follow their own destinies rather than remain within the constraints imposed on them by society. The second is 'Be strong, girlie, be strong'. Two messages that I would pass on to my own daughters.

Dr Janet Grice, Editor - Nexus www.tasa.org.au
Volume 17/3 (October 2005) 25 - 26
Newsletter of The Australian Sociological Association Inc.
School of Social Science, University of Queensland

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Dr Sally Goold OAM
Senior Australian of the Year 2006

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By Peter Beattie MP
4 December 2005

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