Stephen Kinnane was raised in Noongar country in south-west Western Australia and is a descendant of the Miriwoong people of the East Kimberley, through his maternal grandmother. He has worked as a writer and researcher on community cultural heritage projects.
As co-writer and co-producer of an ABC television documentary, 'The Coolbaroo Club', he was awarded a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Human Rights Award for the Arts in 1996.
Shadow Lines2003single work biography 'The story of Jessie Argyle, born in the remote East Kimberley and taken from her Aboriginal family at the age of five, and Edward Smith, a young Englishman escaping the rigid structures of London. In a society deeply divided on racial lines, Edward and Jessie met, fell in love and, against strong opposition, eventually married. Despite unrelenting surveillance and harassment the Smith home was a centre for Aboriginal cultural and social life for over thirty years.' (Source: back cover, 2003 edition)
In Perth, Western Australia, the Coolbaroo Club operated for 14 years (1946-1960) as a meeting place and a community focus for the local Aboriginal community. The Club was the only Aboriginal-run dance club in a city which practised unofficial apartheid. Continually harrassed by police with enforced fraternisation bans and curfews placed on them, the Indigenous population was also required to carry identity cards and deal with bureaucratic obstruction. During its lifetime, the Club attracted black musicians and celebrities from all over Australia and occasionally from overseas, among them Nat 'King' Cole, Harold Blair, and the Harlem Globetrotters.