While ‘Urgent’ is a work of fiction, the stories included in the book are true. Dr Leanne Rowe, while working as a doctor in an Aboriginal health service in Far North Queensland, collaborated with a group of young people involved with the Wathaurong Aboriginal Collective to contribute to the book. A group of teenagers wrote the story and encouraged other young Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to contribute personal stories, poetry, artwork and photography.
The story is centred around Albert Thompson, a 37-year-old Aboriginal man in remote Queensland. Albert – whom we learn is a member of the Stolen Generations - is plagued by poor health, and as his condition deteriorates, he attempts to get in touch with his three daughters, each of whom has a different mother.
‘Urgent’ explores the reactions of the three girls – Adele, Christine and Rachel – as they learn their true identity and discover that they each have two half-sisters whom they did not know. Their stories and points-of-view are told via letters, poetry and diary entries. Through these mediums the girls express their shock, heartbreak, and confusion. But for Christine, who shares her troubled past with Adele - there are also feelings of relief and a new sense of belonging.
Interspersed with the sisters’ stories are Albert’s poetry and artwork, expressing his feelings towards his daughters and their mothers. There is sadness, heartbreak, joy and regret. Also included are excerpts of historical documents and newspaper articles, such as the 1995 ‘Bringing Them Home’ National Inquiry. These extracts work to provide some context around the way in which our First Nations communities have been impacted by past government policies.
This book effectively illuminates the way in which heartbreak and trauma can be inter-generational as seen in children of survivors of the Stolen Generations. There is much to be discussed around themes of identity, belonging, trauma, forgiveness, racism, and government policy – both past and present.
A powerful emotive book told via a variety of different formats, this book encourages teen readers to understand the issues impacting our First Nations communities.