'In a 2016 Meanjin essay one of this country’s most celebrated writers, Alexis Wright, asked us a fundamental question in relation to storytelling and the role of the writer. ‘What happens when you tell somebody else’s story?’ she asked, in a thoughtful piece of writing that did not demand that white Australia not engage with the story of Aboriginal people (as some have concluded). In addressing the question, Wright asked of each of us, Aboriginal and ‘settler’ both, that we give deeper consideration to the act of telling stories and take greater responsibility for the decisions we make as writers. We may make a choice to respond to individual creative impulses, or choose to restrain ourselves from acting on those impulses in favour of making decisions of greater cultural value. Wright was clear about the consequences of the stories of Aboriginal people being told by others: ‘We do not get much of a chance to say what is right or wrong about the stories told on our behalf … it just happens, and we try to deal with the fallout.’' (Introduction)
Editor's note: This was originally presented at the State Library of Victoria in November 2018 as the inaugural Writers Victoria the State of the (Writing) Nation oration.