EACH of the eight stories in psychiatrist and author Helen Milroy’s Wombat, Mudlark & other Stories begins with words to encourage and inspire the young reader.
From a falling star to a lonely whale, an entertaining lizard or an enterprising penguin the book is a charming read full of adventures and enduring friendships, but there’s a deeper message.
“They are about bringing out the positives, like helping, and compassion,” Dr Milroy says.
Wombat is her first book, and it came out of stories she’s used with many children in her work as a child psychiatrist.
It’s written in the style of traditional indigenous storytelling, but isn’t just for Aboriginal kids.
“It fits for all children, but particularly our Aboriginal kids,” she says down the blower, about to get on a plane and head to a national indigenous conference on the Torres Strait Islands.
The themes of the book are universal for kids anywhere, encouraging them to feel proud of their imagination, energy, optimism, emotional intelligence and family connections.
“And it’s a great tool for anyone working with children looking to find a way to emphasise with the lesser-acknowledged emotional talents of children.
“And all those personality traits which make life better for family, friends and community.”
The Melville local is a descendant of the Palyku people in the Pilbara region.
She was Australia’s first indigenous doctor, and psychiatrist, having studied at the University of WA, is director of the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health, and consultant with the specialist Aboriginal mental health services with the health department.
She’s the AFL’s first indigenous commissioner.
To top it off, she did her own illustrations for the book.
Printed through Fremantle Press Wombat, Mudlark and Other Stories is being released in time for NAIDOC week July 7 to 14.
by JENNY D’ANGER