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SHORTLISTED, 2021 NSW PREMIER'S HISTORY AWARDS, DOUGLAS STEWART PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION
SHORTLISTED, 2021 WESTERN AUSTRALIAN PREMIER’S BOOK AWARDS, PRIZE FOR AN EMERGING WRITER
SHORTLISTED, 2021 QUEENSLAND LITERARY AWARDS, QUEENSLAND PREMIER’S AWARD FOR A WORK OF STATE SIGNIFICANCE
The removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families remains a dark chapter in Australia’s history. Pattie Lees was just ten-years-old when she and her four siblings were separated from their mother on the grounds of neglect and placed into State care. Believing she was being shipped and exiled to Africa, Pattie was ultimately fated to spend the rest of her childhood on the island once dubbed ‘Australia’s Alcatraz’ – Palm Island Aboriginal Settlement, off the coast of Queensland.
A Question of Colour; my journey to belonging provides a first-hand account of Pattie’s experiences as a ‘fair-skinned Aboriginal’ during Australia’s assimilationist policy era and recounts her survival following a decade of sexual, physical and emotional abuse as a Ward of the State. A Question of Colour is a deeply moving and powerful testimony to the resilience of a young girl, her identity and her journey to belong.
“…[A] magnificent story full of both pain and achievement. It is a real contribution […to] our understanding of ourselves and where we have room for change”.
– The Hon. Kim Beazley AC
"In Pattie Lees' memoir...words reveal the grace and emotional transcendence the author has undoubtedly reached as a survivor of the stolen generations. Lees combines history and memoir with such tact, delicacy and reverence that for all 334 pages, I felt strengthened by her crisp storytelling."
– Jessie Tu, The Sydney Morning Herald