Get Up Mum

Justin Heazlewood - Get Up Mum

The acclaimed boyhood memoir in tuckshops and online via Booktopia.


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2023: The Get Up Mum theatre show is set to tour to Burnie & Melbourne in mid 2024!  

2022: The theatre show premiered at Theatre Royal in Hobart in March. It went well! There was an interview situation with the lovely Helen Shield on ABC HOBART.

2021: The Get Up Mum theatre show is coming soon dudes! I got a couple of arts grants. I may have spent most of the money on tape decks and super soaker 50s.

2020: Check out my ‘beside the scenes’ Get Up Mum Side Stories article. I’ve also made a Get Up Mum soundtrack which will be released on Bandcamp May 28. It marks the two year anniversary of its release. Here is the first single Reverse Purgatory.

2019: The big news is I’ve been working on a 10-part series of Get Up Mum for some months. Everything will drop on RN’s Life Matters May 27. The episodes will air daily from 9:20am and be available on the Life Matters page. There’s also a big scrolling story about my tapes that will be featured on the ABC News site that day. It’s all rather exciting. You’ll be able to hear my cassettes. There will be voices.




  • I made my Guardian debut in this classic interview from fellow only child Elizabeth Flux.
  • A tender and compelling chateroo with Myf Warhurst.
  • Pseudo counselling session with excellent psychologists on Triple R’s Radiotherapy.
  • Lifestyles of the poor and infamous, or an eloquent examination by one of Australia’s hardest working artists? You decide as I bare my artistic soul for Kill Your Darlings.
  • Another day, another insanely personal interview with Frankie magazine.
  • Rigorous pow-wow about schizophrenia on RNs Life Matters. Plus more radio action with ABC Adelaide & ABC Sydney.
  • Sunday afternoon driving home with Mum (excerpt on Soundcloud.)
  • Watch the trailer on YouTube.


“My name is Belinda, and I have just finished reading Get Up Mum. I heard about it on ABC News 24  early December – my apologies that I have forgotten the lady that recommended it, but regardless I am so glad she did.

This message comes to say a huge thank you – I could imagine there would be so many mixed emotions writing and re-living the events you have captured in this book, and it certainly stirred many within myself as I read it.  While I am a bit older than you, your book brought back so many wonderful memories of my childhood – especially the music and hours spent playing with tape recorders, the Australian comedy shows, and the skits we presented at school!

However, now I also have direct experience of being a mum with a mental illness.  Reading your experiences definitely pulled at my heart strings, thinking about the suffering that my illness brings to others too, especially my family.  It truly hurts when you so desperately want to care for others, but have such a hard time some days even caring for yourself.  It is wonderful though – since reading your book, every morning as I greet the challenge of getting out of bed, I find myself saying to myself “get up mum” – it is such a great way to stop myself paralysing myself with pity, and reminding myself of those that need me too.

So thank you again Justin – the spirit you captured brought much joy, and the hard times you shared has given me a much greater insight and drive to do the best I can each day.

I can’t help but wonder though how you feel about the time and events you captured?  How was the journey up an out of this situation?  I look forward to reading more…

Until then,
With kindest regards,
And smiles,



‘Unfortunately, this beautifully written, evocative memoir will only appeal to anyone who has had a childhood.’ Judith Lucy.

“The lows in this tale are always complemented by affectionate highs. Heazlewood displays wonder at the world and its possibilities for delight – in his grandmother’s garden, in salty fish and chips, in swims in the sea. Littered throughout the novel are lines of poetry that almost startle, asking to be read and re-read…Get Up Mum is a warm, humorous memoir about coming of age, and the deep love between two individuals who need each other equally.” Readings Monthly.

‘A young’uns tentative forage through a thorny scrub of filial love, written as postcards from the nestling.’ Tim Rogers.

“I’m halfway through this book and it’s GODDAMN WONDERFUL and heartbreaking. Justin’s writing voice is so phenomenal, such a perfect combination of funny and whole-hearted without being syrupy, woe-is-me and sentimental. I have a feeling a lot of people will find “oh my god that was me” relief in this book, especially if they grew up with parents who were dealing with any kind of mental illness.” Amanda Palmer.

… [Heazlewood] does evoke what it is like to live in a loving, if flawed, family. In particular, his nan and pop – the latter the closest he has to a father – jump off the page as beacons of stability. Ultimately, if Get Up Mum is about youth, it is also about growing up too fast. Told to be a man while still a boy, Heazlewood feels responsible for his mother. Maybe, then, this is his way of finally letting go.” The Saturday Paper.

“Superbly written… perceptive account of what it’s like to grow up with someone who has [a mental illness]….written with no judgement – it’s just a simple recounting of his life and their lives but done in such a beautiful and perceptive way.” Book of the week, Burnie 7BU. 


“How are you? I am sure you probably don’t remember me – I sent my thanks your way a few years ago after I read Get Up Mum. As a Mother with mental illness I found it both confronting but also motivating to hear from the child perspective.

Since this time, I have have had many friends who are Mums as well, struggle with mental illness. I have seen the pressure it puts on their kids, but also upon themselves – shame and fear are two big elephants in the room with these women. Speaking with one of the children, and hearing the worry in her voice, I was struck by an idea. What if there was a compilation of poems/pictures etc that may show the interplay of emotions between parents with mental illness and their children.

When I read about your work with The Satellite Foundation it made the idea more concrete. While a lot of their work is through visual arts, perhaps this could be combined with poems or quotes as well? Perhaps it has been done already? But I was just thinking how valuable it could be if both parents and children could understand the other perspective. A parent speaks of their shame and fear, and the child of their worry, anger etc. Do you think something like this would work? Do you think a book like this could a book like this bring families together through the trauma of mental illness?

Please Justin, feel free to completely disregard this idea. I just felt I had to put it out there. Most of the time my ideas land in a big pile of mud, but some still have the potential to bloom.

With my kindest regards,



It’s 1992 in Burnie, Tasmania and 12-year-old Justin lives alone with his mum. When she is well, Mum is perfect. She knows he likes his carrots raw and his toast cooled, and she knows how to sooth his growing pains. But when she is sick she cries uncontrollably and never gets out of bed.

High school is on the horizon and Justin is bursting with adolescent energy. But his mum’s mental illness hangs over him like a shadow and he feels the need to grow up fast.

Told with youthful exuberance, Get Up Mum is a wildly endearing, entertaining and incredibly powerful memoir about love, family, and coming-of-age.

Book into the future