Saturday 1 December - 1.30pm to 4pm

Why not borrow a human book instead of a printed book?

The Stories of the Northern Beaches - Human Library aims to promote diversity and challenge stereotypes in celebration of Social Inclusion Week and International Day of People with Disability.

Our 'books' are local residents willing to share aspects of their life experience with you - the reader.

Be part of this fascinating event at Cromer Community Centre (150 Fisher Road North).


Please call Sandra on 02 9976 1562 to "reserve" your booking time

Human Book Titles

Robert H

Don’t lie down! Don’t let a disability hold you back.
Topic area/s: Disability

I have been legally blind since age 14. I met Helen Keller in 1949 – a famous advocate for people who were visually and hearing impaired. This was a seminal moment in my life. I now had a role model who motivated me to achieve the best I could in life. I enjoyed a rewarding work life for over 40 years. It is hard to imagine now, but until the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1992, employers could discriminate on the basis of disability. I have been Chairperson of the Manly Access Committee and Chairperson of the Warringah Visually Impaired Persons Group. It’s been a challenge – but I haven’t let a disability hold me back.

Beryl T

My boat refugee story
Topic area/s: Migration/refugee, cultural/ethnic background

I want to demystify some of the stereotypes of what a boat refugee is. I was born in war – fled in the middle of the night with my family – fear, pirate attacks, thirst, hunger, unwanted and stateless, survived a refugee camp, before coming to Australia. I grew up in Cabramatta in Sydney’s west during the height of the gang and drug wars. But you wouldn’t know it looking at me now - I’m a pretty normal Northern Beaches mum now living a happy middle class lifestyle and have worked in some successful corporate jobs. For 40 years, I have not felt ready to publicly tell my story. I’d like to now help bring a human face to a story that maybe some people have wondered about, but not known the details of.

Rosemary M

You’re never too old!
Topic area/s: Migration, age, gender

My world in the UK collapsed in 2006 and I arrived, alone, in Sydney one year later – grief stricken and aged 67 with no family and no home to go to. It was a huge challenge to be accepted in this new country. Making friends meant joining several groups and spending a year as a student at TAFE. Later, I needed to go back into the workforce – another challenge and, again, not easy. I passed the test and became a bus driver. What I’ve learned in my 11 years on the Northern Beaches is make sure that you find a real purpose for your life and - NEVER GIVE UP!

Rene S

Depression and anxiety – frustration, anger and sadness
Topic area/s: Mental health, disability

Depression and anxiety can happen to anyone. It does not discriminate. Misunderstandings on how to respond to a person with depression and anxiety can make things difficult. Every person is different – however, the responses seem to be the same for everyone. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for three years now. It started with really low ‘black dog’ days – to where I am today. My best support has been my dog. I think the key to the recovery journey is to find your passion; to find your dream.

Jacqui and Fred     

Living with an invisibility: a mother and son’s story.
Topic Areas: Disability - intellectual disability, learning difficulty, minority

What’s it like growing up with an intellectual learning disability? Hear from both of our perspectives: a 19-year-old son with an “invisibility” and his Mum. We faced many problems with basic milestones, schools, homework, extra support, clubs and friendship groups. Sometimes there were judgements and biases from others, but they made our family grow stronger. Each year brought us new challenges: feeling like the odd one out, not playing in mainstream sport teams, attending a support class, our self-esteem, watching other families do “normal” things? But together we’ve learnt to overcome obstacles and we try to change people’s perceptions. We’ve stories to share about being SES volunteers and representing NSW with Special Olympics. We’re now looking at work opportunities and encouraging employers to be more inclusive and respect diversity. Sometimes disability isn’t always obvious to the eye! 

Karen S

Hidden family story - a journey to uncover the truth
Topic area/s: Aboriginal family

I felt bitter and full of grief over the need of my grandmother to keep her story hidden and therefore my own lack of knowledge. I then spent many years uncovering the stories of my family. This became a driven labour of love as I wrote three shows: Yarns from the Wallendbeen Hotel - my father’s stories; Walking Country - my mother’s stories; and Footsteps around Manly - stories of my family’s lives on the Northern Beaches going back many generations. I conveyed the stories through narrative, song, photos and paintings - revealing history, racism and the brutal reality of war. My stories are my legacy and I am happy to speak with you today about my family and this legacy.

Kerry M

Beating all odds - and surviving
Topic area/s: Disability

I was hit by car when I was six years old in Queenscliff after school. The accident left me in coma for months and I suffered paralysis and was in a wheelchair. I was told by medical professionals I would never walk again or have kids. I was a medical miracle and surprised doctors with my recovery. I learnt to walk again, had kids and realised my dreams. It was not an easy journey. I want to share my story to inspire others. My story is about beating the odds, pushing through life, staying positive and having a strong will and desire to overcome challenges. I still bare the physical scars of my accident including not being able to use my left hand. My story is about healing the soul from trauma and overcoming challenges in the face of adversity.

Fernanda A

Becoming the best version of myself: an everyday battle
Topic area/s: Depression, spirituality, resistance, acceptance and resilience

Since 2013 I have been battling depression. The official diagnosis came when the psychiatrist asked me if anything made me happy and after sobbing for the last hour during the assessment, I could only give her a head shake. I was living in Ireland when it happened and I chose not to return home to Brazil as I wanted it to be a fight of my own. I had all the professional support I needed and I felt the help from friends and family were biased: whatever they wanted or needed was not necessarily the best for me, what I wanted or what I needed. It took me four years to feel emotionally strong enough to return home to visit for a month. After returning to Ireland in January 2017, even though I had made a significant self-improvement throughout those years, something still fell off and I decided to flow with life and where it was leading me. So here I am, on the other side of the world, enjoying a sabbatical year and reconnecting with myself.