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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers and Storytellers
(Status : Public)
Coordinated by BlackWords Team
  • BlackWords Team and Contributors - 2007 to Now

    Since its establishment in 2006, BlackWords has benefited from a large team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers, indexers, and advisors working at many of AustLit's partner institutions.

    Records about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and storytellers are created by all AustLit researchers and indexers. By the launch of BlackWords in 2007, most records relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and storytellers were reviewed by one or more of the Indigenous researchers working on the BlackWords project.

    BlackWords is managed by Kerry Kilner at The University of Queensland. It was initially developed under the leadership of Dr Anita Heiss. Advisors have included Dr Peter Minter from Sydney University, Professor Gus Worby from Flinders University, Dr Jeanine Leane from ANU, and Dr Jaky Troy from AIATSIS. Dr Jackie Huggins and Sam Watson, who launched BlackWords at the State Library of Queensland, were instrumental in the establishment of BlackWords.

  • Anita Heiss, Cultural Advisor. Inaugural Coordinator

    image of person or book cover
    Photo credit: Amanda James

    Dr Anita Heiss is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales and is one of Australia’s most prolific and well-known authors of Aboriginal literature. She has a PhD in Communication and Media which resulted in a history of Indigenous publishing titled Dhuuluu-Yala : To Talk Straight. Other published works include the historical novel Who Am I? : The Diary of Mary Talence : Sydney, 1937, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature, which she co-edited with Peter Minter.

    See full AustLit entry
  • Kerry Kilner, Director

    Photo courtesy of Kerry Kilner

    Kerry Kilner was born in Singapore and lived there for less than a year. Her father was an officer in the Australian Defence Forces and as a result she lived in numerous places along the eastern seaboard of Australia during a peripatetic childhood.

    Kilner began tertiary study as a mature age student in her 20s. She completed an Honours degree in literature (1992) and a Masters degree in Women's Studies at Monash University in 1994. Her Master's research investigated the role of women in the Australian little theatre movement of the 1920s and '30s.

    See full AustLit entry

    Kerry Kilner is the Director and General Editor of AustLit. She has been involved in BlackWords since its establishment. She is responsible for ensuring BlackWords remains a vital and relevant resource for teaching, research, and knowledge sharing.

    Contact Kerry on k.kilner (AT) if you have questions.

  • Peter Minter, Advisor

    Image courtesy of Peter Minter

    Dr Peter Minter is a leading Australian poet, editor and scholar, and is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English, School of Letters, Arts and Media at the University of Sydney. He shares English, Scottish and Aboriginal heritage, and has taught Aboriginal studies at the University of Newcastle, the University of Western Sydney and the University of Sydney.

    His books include blue grass and Empty Texas, which won the Age Poetry Book of the Year Award, and his poetry is widely published and regularly anthologised in Australia and internationally.

    See full AustLit entry
  • Gus Worby, Advisor and Establishment Partner

    Image courtesy Flinders University.

    Gus Worby was born in Stockport, England in 1946. He migrated to Australia with his family in 1954 and settled in Geelong where he attended Geelong Grammar School.He studied Arts at Melbourne University and there became involved with student and professional theatre. He was awarded three Murray Sutherland and University Union Prizes for Acting and Directing, studied for a Masters degree at Melbourne University and worked as tutor, dramaturg and actor with the Melbourne Theatre Company.

    In 1971 he moved to South Australia to join the Flinders University Drama Discipline under Wal Cherry where he completed his PhD whilst teaching in both the Drama Centre and Drama theory streams.

    See full AustLit entry
  • Former Team Co-ordinators and Members

  • Irene Howe, The University of Queensland

    Irene Howe is a single mother with two children, and is a descendant of the Gudjal and South Sea Islander (Vanuatu) people, of the Charters Towers region, Queensland. Her heritage also includes European descent. She began her tertiary education after she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Irene graduated from The University of Queensland, with a Bachelor of Arts with an extended Major in Archaeology/Anthropology in 2010, and a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in the Field of Archaeology in 2012. With an interest in Heritage, her thesis was based on Interpretation of an archaeological site, at historical Wolston House in the Brisbane/Ipswich region.

  • Jeanine Leane

    Jeanine Leane, AIATSIS (National Coordinator)

    Dr Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri woman from South West New South Wales. She is currently the Education Research Fellow at AIATSIS. She was born in Wagga Wagga and educated in Gundagai, Wagga Wagga, Armidale and Canberra. She has a BA in Literature and History from the University of New England, Armidale (1983) and a Graduate Diploma of Education from the University of Canberra (1984). She was awarded a PhD by the University of Technology, Sydney in 2011. Her thesis, The White Man's "Aborigine" considered the 'Aborigine' as a construct of white imagination, and follows the trajectory of Anglo-European representations in literature, with particular emphasis on prominent authors and how their fictional portraits influenced generations of non-Aboriginal learners via school curricula from the 1960s onward. Jeanine is also investigating Aboriginal authors and the way their works are being interpreted in educational settings. She has three unpublished manuscripts which were shortlisted for the David Unaipon Award in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, winning the award in 2010. In 2009 her collection of poetry, Dark Secrets: After Dreaming (AD) 1887-1961 was published as a PressPress Chapbook. Her collection of poetry, Purple Threads, won the David Unaipon award in 2010 and was published by the University of Queensland Press in 2011.

  • Cathy Craigie

    Cathy Craigie, University of Sydney

    Cathy Craigie is a Gamilaroi and Anaiwon woman form northern NSW. Cathy has an extensive career in Aboriginal Affairs, primarily in the arts and media sectors. She is the founding member of Gadigal Information Services and Koori Radio in Sydney and also established a housing co-operative in the inner city. Cathy has worked across disciplines and in local, state, national and international arenas. She has held senior positions in Federal government agencies but now works as a freelance consultant in the cultural industries. Some of her projects include an arts audit for Western Sydney, establishing and co-ordinating a three-year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers Strategy, directing ‘Guwanyi’, a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait writers festival in Sydney and producing Sydney’s Yabun on 16 January. Cathy is also an accomplished writer and has written four plays and several commissioned fiction and non-fiction works.

  • Yaritiji Green

    Yaritji Green, Flinders University

    Yaritji Green is an emerging writer and is training to be a librarian. She completed Certificate III in Creative Writing at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in Alice Springs in 2002. By 2006, she completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) at Flinders University in South Australia.

    Yaritji has done volunteer work with the South Australian Writers' Centre from 2004-2005. In this same period, she also coordinated the South Australian Indigenous Writers and Storytellers group. While working for both the South Australian Writers' Centre and the South Australian Indigenous Writers and Storytellers group, Yaritji was the co-ordinator of the Inaugural National Indigenous Writers' Festival 2005.

  • Elizabeth Hodgson, University of Wollongong

    Elizabeth Hodgson is a Wiradjuri woman, born in Wellington, New South Wales, and is the award winning poet of the collection Skin Painting.

    After spending many years travelling, Hodgson decided to make Wollongong, NSW, her home. She has been officially welcomed into Wadi Wadi country and has explored her Aboriginality and spirituality in depth since moving there over a decade ago.

    Elizabeth has contributed to the organising of the annual 'Celebrating the Voice' readings in Wollongong, now in their ninth year and specific to Indigenous cultures, including Canada and New Zealand.

    Elizabeth is a facilitator, mentor and writer for the South Coast Writers' Centre Aboriginal Oral History Project.

  • Jake Milroy, University of Western Australia

    Jake Milroy spent much of his childhood growing up in an environment that encouraged creative artistic expression. His family and immediate family, including Sally Morgan and her three children, have been influential throughout his life encouraging him to be a positive and supportive member of the Indigenous community. As the son of musician, director, Native Title activist and internationally recognised Indigenous playwright David Milroy, it is no surprise that Jake has an imperative from within that propels him into the milieu of Aboriginal culture. He is completing a BA in History and Political Science & International Relations, whilst being active on campus in events that share Aboriginal culture with others. The BlackWords project is another way of continuing his passion.

  • Janine Dunleavy

    Janine Dunleavy, The University of Queensland

    Janine Dunleavy is a mother and grandmother of Koori and Irish Catholic descent. She began her tertiary education after her first grandchild was born and graduated from The University of Queensland with a BA in Anthropology in 2007. Janine has an MA Environment from Griffith University, majoring in Environmental Education. For the last three years, she has taught an Indigenous issues and pedagogy course to tertiary students studying the Bachelor of Education degree at The University of Queensland. Janine's research interests relate to exploring the historical narratives that underpin contemporary white Australia's environmental understandings and how these impact on Aboriginal people's ability to safeguard and engage with their own environmental heritage. Her professional and personal interests lie in promoting positive views of Aboriginal people, society and culture in the mainstream community.

  • Samantha Faulkner, AIATSIS (National Coordinator)

    Samantha Faulkner is a Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal woman, from Badu and Moa Islands in the Torres Strait and the Yadhaigana and Wuthuthi peoples of Cape York Peninsula. She has worked with a number of public service agencies and community-controlled health and research organisations across Australia. She has represented women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests on a number of local, state and national boards. She is the author of Life B'long Ali Drummond: A Life in the Torres Strait, published in 2007 by Aboriginal Studies Press.

  • Yvette Holt

    Yvette Holt

    Yvette Holt is a member of the Bidjara and Wakaman Nations of central and far north Queensland (Atherton Tablelands). She grew up in the Brisbane community of Inala, where her family have lived for more than forty years.

    A graduate from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Yvette has a degree in Adult Education & Community Management (Business). In 2003, Yvette received the UTS Human Rights Award in the category of Reconciliation for 'her outstanding contribution towards the elevation of social justice for Indigenous Australians'.

    Yvette holds a keen interest in social justice and leadership and development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. She speaks nationally and internationally on family and domestic violence, mentors youth and homeless people, and facilitates community workshops on writing and Indigenous Australian literature.

    In 2005, Yvette won the David Unaipon Award (Queensland Premier's Literary Award) for an Unpublished Indigenous Australian Author. Her collection of poetry titled Anonymous Premonition was published by the University of Queensland Press in 2008.

  • Carolyn Moylan

    Carolyn Moylan, University of Western Australia

    Carolyn Moylan is a Nyungar woman, married with two children and seven grandchildren. Carolyn has seven sisters (one deceased) and two brothers (one deceased) and her extended family members are the Haywards and Jacksons from the Southwest and Wheatbelt regions of Western Australia. In 2001 Carolyn returned to study and completed a Bachelor of Communications and Cultural Studies (Honours) at Curtin University of Technology. Carolyn has been employed since 1996 at Curtin University of Technology as the Coordinator of the Aboriginal Bridging Course (ABC) and the Indigenous Tertiary Access Course (ITEC). As well as co-ordinating these courses, she also co-ordinated the Associate Degree in Science and Technology and the Associate Degree in Aboriginal Art in 2000-2003. Carolyn has been a Senior Manager of the Aboriginal Management Committee at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS) for over ten years. In 2005, she was nominated by the CAS for a NAIDOC award and in 2006 she was awarded a one-year DEST Scholarship to pursue her interests in writing a book.

  • Josie Harp, University of Western Australia

    Josie Harp is a Nynoogar woman who is a descendent of the Baladong and Wileman groups of the south east region from Brookton and Pingelly in Western Australia. As a Nynoogar woman she occasionally assists in cultural workshops and cultural site visits.

    Josie is currently an Associate Lecturer in the Aboriginal Bridging Course at Curtin University of Technology, lecturing in Aboriginal studies, as well as tutoring for Aboriginal Bridging students.

  • Jerome Comisari

    Jerome Comisari, AIATSIS

    Jerome Comisari was born in 1990, lives in Canberra and has worked for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) for more than three years. Jerome is delighted to be part of the BlackWords team. Jerome commenced part-time work on the BlackWords project in 2012 and is fully committed to the initiative. He is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at the ANU with majors in political science and philosophy. Besides work and study Jerome has a passionate interest in reading, music and travel.