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Is That You, Ruthie?

An inspiring life story, this remarkable memoir won the prestigious David Unaipon Award in 1998. In her recently released sequel Bittersweet Journey Ruth recounts, with characteristic humour and honesty, a dormitory girl’s life after the Mission.

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‘Is that you …?’ Matron’s voice would ring out across the dormitory. In that pause sixty little girls would stop in their tracks, waiting to hear who was in trouble. All too often the name called out would be that of the high spirited dormitory girl Ruthie.

In the Depression years Queensland’s notorious Cherbourg Aboriginal Mission became home to four-year-old Ruth until her late teens when she was sent out to serve as a domestic on a station homestead. Ruthie is the central character in this lively and candid memoir of institutional life. Her milestones and memories reflect the experiences of many dormitory girls. The strong and lasting bonds that developed between them helped to compensate for family love and support denied them by the disruptive removal policy of the day.

Ruth Hegarty

Ruth Hegarty

Ruth Hegarty won the 1998 David Unaipon Award for unpublished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers with her entry Is That You, Ruthie? The sequel, Bittersweet Journey was released by UQP in November 2003. Ruth Hegarty has raised a family of eight children and lives in Brisbane, and for more than thirty years has been involved on a volunteer basis in projects for the elderly and youth. A founding member of Koobara Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Family Resource Centre, she is president of the Brisbane respite centre Nalingu, and a trainer with the Home and Community Care Resource Unit. In 1998 she was awarded the Premier’s Award for Queensland Seniors, for outstanding service to the community.