Shortlist year: 2022

Shortlist category: Children's literature

Published by: Scholastic Australia

A picture book for older readers, from multi award-winning author and artist, Gregg Dreise – a proud descendant of the Kamilaroi and Euahlayi people.

This is a valuable resource for discussion about the importance of moving forward together as a nation, with truth and respect for our history and Traditional Custodians. It provides timely themes for National Sorry Day (26 May 2021) and NAIDOC Week including: First Nations history; Australian history; Australia Day; Australian anthem; unity; community.

A slam poetry persuasive and powerful vision of unity from award-winning First Nations creator Gregg Dreise. Passionate and peaceful, 'Common Wealth' is a compelling plea for a future of truth, togetherness and respect for our nation's deep history.

All that I'm wishing,
Is that you take a moment to listen . . .
You see, I'm on a mission,
to spread unity – not division.

About the author


Gregg Dreise

Gregg Dreise is an award-winning author, artist and musician. He began writing poems as song lyrics for his band, and later developed a taste for telling old yarns, especially around a campfire. Gregg plays the didgeridoo and guitar in his lively performances at schools, libraries and festivals. He is a proud descendant of the Kamilaroi and Euahlayi people of south-west Queensland and north-west New South Wales.

Judges’ comments

A beautiful tribute to the possibilities of a united future for our country; a new story, a new flag, a 'Common Wealth'. Through Grieving, Believing, Achieving and Receiving, Dreise's 'slam poetry persuasive' picture book for older readers proposes a unified intercultural nation and a culture of respect, listening and sharing.

Written in compelling, contemporary poetic language, 'Common Wealth' provides an honest overview of the past 200 years in Australian history. Drawing on the words of our national anthem and what they denote for Aboriginal people in particular, ideas are proposed for a better future.

Gregg Dreise illustrates his deftly woven poetry with traditional and contemporary iconography, presenting a plea for listening, respect, sharing, and togetherness across all cultural backgrounds. Inclusion, history, truth-telling, sustainability and care for each other in community are central themes.

Whilst acknowledging positive change and the values of mateship, and the spirit of 'lending a hand' for which Australians are known, this powerful work calls for a new paradigm, in a vision from the oldest culture in the world for a true Commonwealth.