Photo credit: Pedro de Almeida
Anita Heiss i(165 works by) (a.k.a. Anita M. Heiss)
Born: Established: 1968 Sydney, New South Wales, ;
Gender: Female
Heritage: Aboriginal Wiradjuri people ; Aboriginal
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Dr Anita Heiss is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales. She grew up in Sydney and after graduating with Honours in History she worked for two years as editor of Aboriginal projects at Streetwise Comics.

In 2001 she became the first Indigenous student to graduate with a PhD from the University of Western Sydney. Her PhD was published as Dhuuluu-Yala [To Talk Straight]: Publishing Indigenous LiteratureHS) (2003). In 2002 she was awarded the New South Wales Premier's History Prize (audio-visual category) for the creation of the website Barani : The Aboriginal History of the City of Sydney.

Heiss has performed at many festivals nationally (Sydney Writers Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Adelaide Writers Week, Byron Bay Writers Festival, Message Sticks, Brisbane Writers Festival among others) and internationally in Spain, Austria, the USA, Canada, Fiji, Japan and New Caledonia. She has also been published widely in journals, anthologies and online.

In 2003, in recognition of her literary achievements, Heiss was awarded the ASA Medal for Under 35s for her contribution to Australian community and public life and in 2004 she was awarded the NSW Indigenous Arts Fellowship. She was also listed in the Bulletin magazine's Microsoft 'Smart 100'. In the same year Anita was nominated for a Deadly Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature.

In 2004, Heiss wrote and directed her first short film, 'Checkerboard Love' as part of the Lester Bostock mentorship program through Metro Screen, Sydney.

Heiss is the founding co-ordinator of AustLit's Black Words: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers and Storytellers subset. She was Communications Adviser for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, a member of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Committee of Management and Chaired the organisation. She was Deputy Director of Warawara Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University from and has been on the Board of Directors for Gadigal Information Service / Koori Radio in Sydney. Hiess has also served as an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador, a Books in Homes Ambassador, as a Board Member of the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy, an Adjunct Professor at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology Sydney, and the patron of the Alliance of Girls' Schools of Australia.

Heiss has made guest appearances on television shows including The Einstein Factor, Message Stick, Vulture, Critical Mass, A Difference of Opinion, The Catch Up, Living Black, The Gathering (NITV), 9am with David and Kim and The Circle.


'On Whose Authority with Melissa Lucashenko, Jacqueline Wright and Dr Anita Heiss.', presenter Rhianna Patrick on Speaking Out, ABC Local, website, Sunday 22 September 2013.


  • Also published: Our Dream - Stopping the Violence : An Information Booklet for Aboriginal Women on Domestic Violence and the Law in NSW (Redfern Legal Centre, Publishing, 1999).

Awards for Works

Am I Black Enough for You? 2012 single work autobiography

'I'm Aboriginal. I'm just not the Aboriginal person a lot of people want or expect me to be.

'What does it mean to be Aboriginal? Why is Australia so obsessed with notions of identity? Anita Heiss, successful author and passionate campaigner for Aboriginal literacy, was born a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, but was raised in the suburbs of Sydney and educated at the local Catholic school. She is Aboriginal - however, this does not mean she likes to go barefoot and, please, don't ask her to camp in the desert. After years of stereotyping Aboriginal Australians as either settlement dwellers or rioters in Redfern, the Australian media have discovered a new crime to charge them with: being too "fair-skinned" to be an Australian Aboriginal. Such accusations led to Anita's involvement in one of the most important and sensational Australian legal decisions of the 21st-century when she joined others in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. He was found guilty, and the repercussions continue.

'In this deeply personal memoir, told in her distinctive, wry style, Anita Heiss gives a first-hand account of her experiences as a woman with an Aboriginal mother and Austrian father, and explains the development of her activist consciousness.' (From the publisher's website.)

2012 winner Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Prize for Indigenous Writing
2012 nominated Human Rights Awards Literature Non-Fiction Award
Paris Dreaming 2011 single work novel

'Libby is on a man-fast: no more romance, no more cheating men, no more heartbreak. After all, she has her three best girlfriends and two cats to keep her company at night and her high-powered job at the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra to occupy her day - isn't that enough?

But when fate takes Libby to work in Paris at the Musée du Quai Branly, she's suddenly thrown out of her comfort zone and into a city full of culture, fashion and love. Surrounded by thousands of attentive men, nude poets, flirtatious baristas and smooth-tongued lotharios, romance has suddenly become a lot more tempting.

On top of it all, there's a chauvinist colleague at the Musée who challenges Libby's professional ability and diplomatic skills. Then there's Libby's new friend Sorina, a young Roma gypsy, desperate to escape deportation. Libby must protect her work record and her friend, but can she protect herself from a broken heart?' Source: (Sighted 25/03/2011).

2011 winner Deadly Sounds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music, Sport, Entertainment and Community Awards Outstanding Achievement in Literature
Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature 2009 anthology correspondence diary drama essay extract poetry prose short story

'Some of the best, most significant writing produced in Australia over more than two centuries is gathered in this landmark anthology. Covering all genres - from fiction, poetry and drama to diaries, letters, essays and speeches - the anthology maps the development of one of the great literatures in English in all its energy and variety.

'The writing reflects the diverse experiences of Australians in their encounter with their extraordinary environment and with themselves. This is literature of struggle, conflict and creative survival. It is literature of lives lived at the extremes, of frontiers between cultures, of new dimensions of experience, where imagination expands.

'This rich, informative and entertaining collection charts the formation of an Australian voice that draws inventively on Indigenous words, migrant speech and slang, with a cheeky, subversive humour always to the fore. For the first time, Aboriginal writings are interleaved with other English-language writings throughout - from Bennelong's 1796 letter to the contemporary flowering of Indigenous fiction and poetry - setting up an exchange that reveals Australian history in stark new ways.

'From vivid settler accounts to haunting gothic tales, from raw protest to feisty urban satire and playful literary experiment, from passionate love poetry to moving memoir, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature reflects the creative eloquence of a society.

'Chosen by a team of expert editors, who have provided illuminating essays about their selections, and with more than 500 works from over 300 authors, it is an authoritative survey and a rich world of reading to be enjoyed.' (Publisher's blurb)

Allen and Unwin have a YouTube channel with a number of useful videos on the Anthology.

2010 winner New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Special Award
2010 shortlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian General Non-Fiction Book of the Year
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