WINNER OF THE 2011 WALKLEY BOOK AWARD Award-winning journalist Russell Skelton presents a devastatingly revealing portrait of Papunya, a Western Desert community that once showed such promise, now a community in severe crisis.
'Why don't you check out Papunya? It's the sniffing capital of Australia, it's a Bermuda triangle for taxpayer funds. Nobody in the NT government gives a rats. The council just tossed out World Vision. People are frightened to talk.'
For award-winning journalist Russell Skelton a five year journey of inquiry that coincided with one of the biggest shifts in indigenous policy in Australian history began on the day he received this email. Set with the backdrop of Papunya, a Northern Territory Aboriginal community whose history showed so much promise but whose dysfunction is now more prominent that its famous artwork, this is a book that had to be written.
Digging down into the core of indigenous issues today, Skelton exposes unmitigated misery, shocking levels of neglect and the devastating consequences of substance abuse. But above all, he reveals how systematic failure of indigenous policy betrayed a once secure community. He also introduces us to Alison Anderson, the woman whose presence has so dominated Papunya and the politics of the Northern Territory
King Brown Country is a powerful and shaming portrait of a community in crisis. Papunya remains an emblem for the failure of all Australians to come to terms with the continent's oldest inhabitants.
Russell Skelton is a contributing editor the The Age. He has received the prestigious Grant Hattam Quill award for investigative journalism and a United Nations Association Peace Award for his reports on Aboriginal disadvantage.