Marrul: Aboriginal Identity And the Fight For Rights


Inala Cooper is the author of new book Marrul: Aboriginal Identity and the Fight for Rights (Monash, 2022). She is a Yawuru woman with German and Irish heritage, from Rubibi/Broome in the Kimberley in Western Australia. She grew up on Gunditjmara land in south-western Victoria and has lived on the land of the Kulin nation in Melbourne for over twenty-five years. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Drama/Contemporary Dance) and a Masters in Human Rights Law, and has long been an advocate for Indigenous rights, access to education, and social justice.

Inala is a regular contributor on ABC News Breakfast and The Drum, and is also a director on a number of not-for-profit boards. Inala is currently the Director of Murrup Barak, the Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development at the University of Melbourne.

What does reconciliation and truth-telling look like, and how do we as a nation find justice for Indigenous people?

In this deeply personal work, Inala Cooper shares stories of her family to show the impact of colonisation on the lives of Aboriginal people from the 1940s to now. She reveals the struggles faced by her Elders and contrasts them with the freedoms she comes across as an Aboriginal woman today. Speaking only from lived experience, Inala examines racism, privilege, and how deeply personal is one’s identity. Her stories illustrate the complexities of identifying as Aboriginal and the importance of community in an increasingly individualist world.

Exploring the impacts of major events throughout her life, Inala reflects on how human rights are breached and defended. She examines reconciliation and the need to share wealth and power, and the importance of truth-telling and justice. In finding her place as an advocate and activist for social justice, Inala is supported by her family, her ancestors, community and the academy. It is these supports that help her challenge racist and outdated notions of what it means to be Indigenous, sovereign and self-determined, and to uphold the principles of justice.

The thought-provoking stories in this book surface more questions than the necessary answers. But Inala brings us to her home as she weaves together her stories, the country she’s connected to, and the elements that shape her path none so prevalent as Marrul: the changing wind.