Kathleen’s interest in Aboriginal affairs came about while she was attending primary school in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. During a social studies class—that involved the production of a diorama enacting the First Fleet landing at Sydney Cove—she made black pipe-cleaner people, which were placed at the back of the diorama. Her curiosity about Indigenous Australians was ignited when her teacher told her they were all dead, but within a few months—after a family relocation to Darwin in the Northern Territory—she discovered they were alive and well. It was a memorable moment in her life that triggered a desire to know the full history of her country of birth, and understand why so much of it was hidden away.
Kathleen's first book, Norman Baird—a spark within is about an Aboriginal Anzac. Norman Baird once wrote that he was prepared to advocate for the Kuku Yalanji people as long as there was ‘a spark left within’. As a young man Norman fought to defend the rights of Australians in World War I only to come home and fight for his own freedom and that of his children. As an old man and almost blind, Norman recorded an ancient language and preserved part of a unique Australian culture.
Kathleen's second book Reflections in Yarrabah is the story of the removals of Aboriginal people to an Anglican mission. Despite its idyllic location between tropical reef and rainforest, Yarrabah was essentially a dumping ground for Aboriginal people, especially ‘half-caste’ children and women. Queensland Government records combined with oral histories reveal the circumstances surrounding the removal of some of the original inmates and provide evidence to support the well lamented accounts of starvation, poor education and slave labour. This beautiful hard-cover book contains scores of historical photos.
Kathleen works in communications, marketing and public relations and has completed a Master of Arts (Writing).
Where to find Kathleen Denigan online
Where to buy in print
No Road Out: Yarrabah Mission
by Kathleen Denigan
Yarrabah Mission was a dumping ground for Aboriginal people—especially half-caste children and women—forced from their homes by state police, who were appointed as their protectors.
From its establishment in 1892, to its takeover by the Queensland Government in 1960, Yarrabah mission was a place of no return, with no way out and absolute control exercised over every aspect of an inmate's life.
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