Ryllis Clark, Mary

When historian Mary Ryllis Clark came across her copy of Austrian philosopher and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s A Man’s Search for Meaning, she was struck by the idea that ‘the purpose of life is to live a life of purpose’. This propelled her on a journey to seek out and interview those individuals whose stories had inspired her.

Historian Henry Reynolds could not keep silent about the racial injustice he witnessed in Australian life, and it changed the course of his career. Whistleblower Andrew Wilkie made the brave decision to tell the truth about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Actor Jack Charles‘s discovery of the Malumani healing program, developed by a fellow survivor of the Stolen Generation, set him on a path of self-discovery. Anthony Bartl, who has no use of his limbs, was not expected to survive after a terrible accident, yet he has travelled widely and is an inspiration to people living with a disability.

From Julie Spriggs, who became the seventh physiotherapist working in Ethiopia, treating tuberculosis, to Gia-Yen Luong, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who is committed to raising the standard of education in state schools in Australia, the 25 individuals in this collection all share a moment that changed the course of their future, sparking them to live a life of passion and purpose — and in turn enriching the lives of others.

With a foreword by Brenda Niall, this collection brings to life stories of triumph and tragedy, hope and survival. Other contributors include Robyn DavidsonGillian TriggsInala CooperAnna FunderPeter DohertyAllan FelsFiona Patten and Elizabeth Chong.

‘There is something to wonder at on every page. You wonder at the choices made and at the way human willpower, ingenuity and courage combined to change so many lives. As you read you realise that by action or example each actor in a human drama has shown the way to countless others. Each turning point is a beginning…It’s the risktakers whose stories interest Mary Ryllis Clark. Everyone who reads Turning Points will find reasons to rejoice and to admire.’ — Brenda Niall

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Monash University Publishing, December 2022.  304 pages, paperback.