The David Unaipon Award was inaugurated in 1988 and is awarded for an outstanding manuscript by an unpublished Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writer. This category is sponsored by the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) through the CAL Cultural Fund and supported by The University of Queensland Press.
The award was named in honour of David Unaipon, one of the earliest published Indigenous writers.
The award was not presented in 2019, because award judges felt none of the manuscripts were yet of publication standard: instead, eligible entrants were offered mentorships through the State Library of Queensland, in consultation with the Copyright Agency and The University of Queensland Press.
for The Making of Ruby Champion
'Remember daughter, the world is a lot bigger than anyone knows. There are things that science may never explain. Maybe some things that shouldn’t be explained.
Stacey and Laney are twins – mirror images of each other – and yet they’re as different as the sun and the moon. Stacey works hard at school, determined to get out of their small town. Laney skips school and sneaks out of the house to meet her boyfriend. But when Laney disappears one night, Stacey can’t believe she’s just run off without telling her.
As the days pass and Laney doesn’t return, Stacey starts dreaming of her twin. The dreams are dark and terrifying, difficult to understand and hard to shake, but at least they tell Stacey one key thing – Laney is alive. It’s hard for Stacey to know what’s real and what’s imagined and even harder to know who to trust. All she knows for sure is that Laney needs her help.
Stacey is the only one who can find her sister. Will she find her in time?'
Source: Publisher's blurb.for unpublished manuscript titled 'Mirrored Pieces'.
‘When he was in gaol, he’d begun to prepare himself for the fight of his life, a showdown with the policeman, McWilliams … he’d face life with death, and see who blinked first.’
'Blackie and Rips are fresh out of prison when they set off on a road trip back to Wiradjuri country with their mate Carlos. Blackie is out for revenge against the cop who put him in prison on false grounds. He is also craving to reconnect with his grandmother’s country.
'Driven by his hunger for drugs and payback, Blackie reaches dark places of both mystery and beauty as he searches for peace. He is willing to pay for that peace with his own life.
'Part road-movie, part ‘Koori-noir’, Dancing Home announces an original and darkly funny new voice.'
[source: Publisher's website]
'The First Octoroon is a work of fiction based in fact, inspired by the writer's discovery that he was an experimental child, that his birth was the result of a state sanctioned scientific experiment, a large-scale genetic intervention called Assimilation, intended to eliminate the perceived menace of Aboriginal 'half-castes' by ‘breeding out the colour’.' (Source: Queensland Literary Awards website)
'Lesley Williams was forced to leave the Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement and her family at a young age to work as a domestic servant. Apart from pocket money, Lesley never saw her wages – they were kept ‘safe’ for her and for countless others just like her. She was taught not to question her life, until desperation made her start to wonder, where is all that money she earned? And so began a nine-year journey for answers.'
'Inspired by her mother’s quest, a teenage Tammy Williams entered a national writing competition with an essay about injustice. The winning prize took Tammy and Lesley to Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch and ultimately to the United Nations in Geneva. Along the way, they found courage they never thought they had and friendship in the most unexpected places.' (Source: On-line)
'In this award-winning work of fiction, Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real.'
'Over three parts, she takes traditional storytelling and gives it a unique, contemporary twist. In ‘Heat’, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In ‘Water’, a futuristic world is imagined and the fate of a people threatened. In ‘Light’, familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging.'
'Heat and Light presents an intriguing collection while heralding the arrival of an exciting new talent in Australian writing.' (Publication summary)
'Hours after rejecting the Corrowa People's native title claim on Brisbane's Meston Park, Justice Bruce Brosnan is brutally murdered in his home. Days later, lawyers against the claim are also found dead.
Aboriginal people were once prohibited from entering Brisbane's city limits at night, and Meston Park stood on the boundary. The Corrowa's matriarch, Ethel Cobb, is convinced the murders are the work of an ancient assassin who has returned to destroy the boundary, but Aboriginal lawyer Miranda Eversely isn't so sure.
When the Premier is kidnapped, the pressure to find the killer intensifies ... While the investigation forces Detective Sergeant Jason Matthews to confront his buried heritage, Miranda battles a sense of personal failure at the Corrowa's defeat. How far will it take her to the edge of self-destruction?' Source: www.uqp.com.au/ (Sighted 25/03/2011).
'In the Aboriginal missions of far northern Australia, it was a battle between saving souls and saving traditional culture.
'Every Secret Thing is a rough, tough, hilarious portrayal of the Bush Mob and the Mission Mob, and the hapless clergy trying to convert them. In these tales, everyone is fair game.
'At once playful and sharp, Marie Munkara's wonderfully original stories cast a taunting new light on the mission era in Australia.' (From the publisher's website.)
'My story cannot be painted onto a canvas - it is skin painting.
Brave, haunting and evocative, this powerful volume is poetry as memoir. From her early experiences in an institution and the effect of this on her family to the illustration of her strength as an adult, Elizabeth Hodgson helps make a slice of Aboriginal experience accessible and resonant. Skin Painting explores themes of art, identity, sexuality and loneliness. It is both universal and intimated, honest and important.'
Source: Publisher's blurb
'A collection of short stories that encapsulates the story of the Aboriginal narrator, her partner Antman, their dog Fleabag and their life in travelling in rural Australia.' (Source: Narragunnawali resource)
Swallow the Air follows the life of 15-year-old May Gibson, an Aboriginal girl from New South Wales whose mother commits suicide. May and her brother go to live with their aunt, but eventually May travels further afield, first to Redfern's Block in Sydney, then to the Northern Territory, and finally into central New South Wales. She travels to escape, but also in pursuit of a sense of her own history, family, and identity.Pre-publication title: Dust on Waterglass
'This absorbing and personal account of Wik activist Jean George Awumpun offers a rare understanding of Aboriginal identity and traditional land. To illustrate her proud Alngith Wikwaya beginnings, Awumpun's early history is told through family member and Alngith descendant Fiona Doyle. This ancestral history combines with the story of Awumpun's struggle in the Wik native title claims, which advanced the earlier Mabo Decision onto mainland Australia.
Using photographs, traditionally inspired art and language terms, Fiona Doyle invites us into the heart of Cape York's Wikwaya country.' Source: Publisher's blurb
'A story of homecoming, this absorbing novel opens with a young, city-based lawyer setting out on her first visit to ancestral country. Candice arrives at "the place where the rivers meet", the camp of the Eualeyai where in 1918 her grandmother Garibooli was abducted. As Garibooli takes up the story of Candice's Aboriginal family, the twentieth century falls away.
Garibooli, renamed Elizabeth, is sent to work as a housemaid, but marriage soon offers escape from the terror of the master's night-time visits. Her displacement carries into the lives of her seven children - their stories witness to the impact of orphanage life and the consequences of having a dark skin in post-war Australia. Vividly rekindled, the lives of her family point the direction home for Candice.
Home is a ... novel from an author who understands both the capacity of language to suppress and the restorative potency of stories that bridge past and present.' (Source: Publisher's blurb)
'Robert Lowe's affection and regard for "The Mish", a property in Victoria's southwest, originally an Aboriginal mission, is warmly conveyed in this candid memoir. In the 1950s and 60s when Robert was growing up, "The Mish" was a close knit community made up of the Aboriginal descendants of Framlingham Aboriginal Mission Station, founded in 1865. Robert's adventurous boyhood was a secured and unfettered time spent with his siblings and cousins enjoying hunting, fishing and eel trapping.
'Teachings by the community elders instilled in him a connection to the land and spirituality he would in turn pass on to following generations. When Robert and his bride leave "The Mish", a new chapter begins in a nearby town where acceptance and respect are hard won.'
Source: Publisher's blurb
'On the surface there's not much to distinguish Tim's life from any other on the fringe- where dope, booze and women are his pleasure as well as his pain. He has family in the bush, and the lives of his city friends are transacted in the face of poverty and police harassment. It is only in Tim's relationship with the Old Man that we glimpse another and little known world where the rules are different, but so too the retribution.' (Source: Publisher's blurb)
'When eighteen-year-old Bill Dodd dived into the Maranoa River his life changed in an instant. This young larrikin had enjoyed many adventures as a stockman on a remote station; now he was a quadriplegic. His boxing, running and football days were over, and he would never ride a horse again.
Bill's story begins with a high-spirited childhood in smalltown Queensland, a time of youthful humour and energy. The sudden death of his stockman father affects Bill deeply and he rebels, before himself choosing the exciting life of an apprentice stockman.
Waking up in the intensive care spinal unit, he faces the consequences of his accident and slowly builds a new life.
...Bill's story was written with the aid of a specially designed finger splint, and a typewriter donated by the people of Mitchell, his hometown.' Source: Publisher's blurb
'A fictional account of one woman's journey to find her family and heritage, Caprice won the 1990 David Unaipon Award for unpublished Indigenous writers. Its publication marked the beginning of Doris Pilkington Garimara's illustrious writing career.
Set in the towns, pastoral stations and orphanage-styled institutions of Western Australia, this story brings together the lives of three generations of Mardu women. The narrator Kate begins her journey with the story of her grandmother Lucy, a domestic servant, then traces the short and tragic life of her mother Peggy.
Kate was born into the institutionalised world of the Settlement, taught Christian doctrine and trained for a career as a domestic. Gradually and painfully she sheds this narrowly prescribed identity, as she sets out on the pilgrimage home.' (Source: Publisher's blurb)