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ECU graduate publishes tales of life in the desert

Thursday, 27 March 2008


When Scarborough resident Dr Maureen Helen gave up a comfortable suburban lifestyle to work as a community nurse in the Pilbara, publishing a book was the last thing on her mind.

After completing her PhD in Writing at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in 2006, Dr Helen is now preparing to launch her book, Other People's Country.

Dr Helen's book originally formed the creative writing component of her PhD thesis and she was overwhelmed to learn that her work would be published.

The book recounts Dr Helen's demanding and sometimes frightening experiences working as a community nurse and living well outside her comfort zone in an Aboriginal community.

"I learned very quickly just how difficult life can be for everyone in an Aboriginal community" she said.

"I experienced an extreme culture shock when I realised that I was an outsider in a culture I didn't understand.

"At first I struggled to adjust to the harsh realities of the desert, but I came out of the experience with some valuable insights and a real sense of companionship."

ECU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kerry Cox congratulated Dr Helen on her achievement.

"Completing a PhD is a large undertaking for anyone. For Dr Helen to have been successful given her context is a great achievement" he said.

"It is wonderful for Dr Helen to be able to now share her work and her experiences through her book"

Dr Helen is an adjunct lecturer at ECU in the Centre for Social Research, a consultant for several non-government organisations and has published short stories, poetry, book reviews and travel articles.

Other People's Country will be launched at ECU Mount Lawley on Friday, 4 April at 3.30pm by Professor Maureen Perkins, co-editor of the international journal, Life Writing.

Other People's Country is available through ABC Books.

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