Two Cultures, One Story is a personal narrative that explores the life of Dr Robert Isaacs, an inspirational Noongar figure, and takes us to the front lines of the struggle for Aboriginal self-determination in Western Australia throughout the latter part of the twentieth century.
Two Cultures, One Story is recounted in a matter-of-fact, plain and affecting style that draws from Dr Isaacs’ pragmatic and committed approach to his life and labours. The book begins with Dr Isaacs’ early years in the system as an “orphan” – unaware that he was in fact a member of the Stolen Generations and had a large extended family living nearby. Dr Isaacs doesn’t gloss over the abuse suffered at the hands of the Christian Brothers who raised him to adulthood, but he is also able to find the good in some of the men, and in the education he received which, together with his determined efforts, was ultimately helpful in securing his early tertiary education and positions with the Aboriginal Medical Service. From there begins a remarkable career across a range of organisations and institutions, with Dr Isaacs commonly serving as a bridge between the two eponymous cultures. As described by his collaborative partner in this publication, Tanaz Byramji, Dr Isaacs is ‘pragmatic, wise, diplomatic, direct, and all heart’ – a fitting description for this wonderful memoir.