Please note: this story contains reference to someone who has died.

So you’ve attended an Invasion Day Rally, you’ve repped Blak designers and donated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander charities — now what?

When it comes to learning, an ally’s work is never done. Showing up on the frontline is one thing but supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be an everyday act.

Hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have shared their stories through media, on podcasts, YouTube, through music and art — and in literature.

NIT has collated a list of five books that share stories all Australians need to hear (and read!).

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia by Dr Anita Heiss. Photo Supplied Rachael Knowles.

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia by Anita Heiss

Edited by Dr Anita Heiss, Growing up Aboriginal in Australia is a heavyweight player in the Growing Up series. It hosts contributions from Aboriginal public figures such as Tony Birch, Deborah Cheetham, Adam Goodes, Terri Janke, Celeste Liddle, Tara June Winch and Miranda Tapsell.

The collection pulls together stories of childhoods where young ones found love and strength but battled racism and hardship. The anthology weaves together narratives that, although so different, reflect the reality of a nation and call for change.


Living on Stolen Land by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Photo Supplied Rachael Knowles.

Living on Stolen Land by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Palyku woman Ambelin Kwaymullina is a writer, illustrator and law academic at the University of Western Australia. Described as a ‘prose-styled manifesto’, Living on Stolen Land looks warm and inviting but in reality, packs a major punch.

The book touches on concepts of sovereignty, settler-colonialism, unconscious bias and discovery. It draws the reader in with its easy-to-read style and then turns them down a path intended to unravel their understandings of contemporary Australia.


Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta. Photo Supplied Rachael Knowles.

Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta 

Yunkaporta hails from the Apalech Clan of Aurukun Shire in Far North Queensland. In Sand Talk he overlays Indigenous perspectives on complex contemporary issues, showing the value and clarity ancient ways of thinking can bring to the modern world.

Asking questions about history, education, money and power, Yunkaporta explores how sustainability and longevity is at the core of Indigenous thinking and gifts the reader the opportunity to walk in the world without their conditioned contemporary lens.


Song Spirals: Sharing women’s wisdom of Country through Songlines by Gay’Wu Group of Women. Photo Supplied Rachael Knowles.

Song Spirals: Sharing women’s wisdom of Country through Songlines by Gay’Wu Group of Women

Joint-winners of the non-fiction category at the 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Award, Song Spirals is the result of 10 years of collaboration between five Yolngu women and three non-Indigenous women. These women make up the dilly bag women’s group. 

Weaving together Yolngu and English the novel invites the reader to experience the Yolngu women’s crying the Songlines. Songspirals are sung to awaken Country, to connect people to Country and to culture.


The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island by Chloe Hooper. Photo Supplied Rachael Knowles.

The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island by Chloe Hooper 

Although written by non-Indigenous author Chloe Hooper, the book tells the story of the 2004 Death in Custody of Palm Island man, Mulrunji Doomadgee. The Tall Man won the 2008 Victorian, New South Wales, Western Australian and Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, the John Button Prize for Political Writing and a Ned Kelly Award for crime writing.

The Tall Man follows police investigations, the riot on Palm Island, the inquest into Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley being charged with manslaughter and his subsequent acquittal by a jury.

A raw recount, Hooper delves deep into the psyche of Palm Island, exposing the realities of race relations, relationships between Aboriginal communities and the lasting impact of loss.


There is an endless wealth of Blak literature available online and sitting on the shelves of local bookshops; endless pages filled with some of the world’s oldest knowledge, waiting to be consumed.

Showing up to march on January 26 is one thing, but doing the work means showing up the other 364 days of the year.

Investing in the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a great way keep standing in solidarity with mob.

By Rachael Knowles