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Prize for Indigenous Writing
Subcategory of Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
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Winners

2021 winner y separately published work icon Tell Me Why : The Story of My Life and My Music Archie Roach , Cammeray : Simon and Schuster Australia , 2019 16745125 2019 single work autobiography

'One of the most powerful and highly anticipated Australian stories to be told.

'No one has lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was.

'Roach was only a few years old when he was forcibly removed from his family. Brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, his world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of.

'In this intimate, moving and often shocking memoir, Roach’s story is an extraordinary odyssey through love and heartbreak, family and community, survival and renewal – and the healing power of music. Overcoming enormous odds to find his story and his people, Roach voices the joy, pain and hope he found on his path through song to become the legendary singer-songwriter and storyteller that he is today – beloved by fans worldwide.

'Tell Me Why is a stunning account of resilience and the strength of spirit – and of a great love story.' (Publication summary)

2019 winner y separately published work icon Taboo Kim Scott , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2017 11490897 2017 single work novel

'From Kim Scott, two-times winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, comes a work charged with ambition and poetry, in equal parts brutal, mysterious and idealistic, about a young woman cast into a drama that has been playing for over two hundred years ...

'Taboo takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar's descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife's dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations.

'But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged.

'We walk with the ragtag group through this taboo country and note in them glimmers of re-connection with language, lore, country. We learn alongside them how countless generations of Noongar may have lived in ideal rapport with the land. This is a novel of survival and renewal, as much as destruction; and, ultimately, of hope as much as despair.' (Publication summary)

2016 winner y separately published work icon Ghost River Tony Birch , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2015 8764472 2015 single work novel (taught in 1 units)

''You find yourself down at the bottom of the river, for some it's time to give into her. But other times, young fellas like you two, you got to fight your way back. Show the river you got courage and is ready to live.'

'The river is a place of history and secrets. For Ren and Sonny, two unlikely friends, it's a place of freedom and adventure. For a group of storytelling vagrants, it's a refuge. And for the isolated daughter of a cult reverend, it's an escape.

'Each time they visit, another secret slips into its ancient waters. But change and trouble are coming – to the river and to the lives of those who love it. Who will have the courage to fight and survive and what will be the cost?' (Publication summary)

2014 winner y separately published work icon Mullumbimby Melissa Lucashenko , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2013 Z1911852 2013 single work novel (taught in 8 units) 'When Jo Breen uses her divorce settlement to buy a neglected property in the Byron Bay hinterland, she is hoping for a tree change, and a blossoming connection to the land of her Aboriginal ancestors. What she discovers instead is sharp dissent from her teenage daughter, trouble brewing from unimpressed white neighbours and a looming Native Title war between the local Bundjalung families. When Jo unexpectedly finds love on one side of the Native Title divide she quickly learns that living on country is only part of the recipe for the Good Life.' (Source: TROVE)
2012 winner y separately published work icon Am I Black Enough for You? Anita Heiss , North Sydney : Bantam Australia , 2012 Z1836209 2012 single work autobiography (taught in 4 units)

'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.)

2010 winner y separately published work icon Legacy Larissa Behrendt , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2009 Z1626828 2009 single work novel

'Simone Harlowe is young and clever, an Aboriginial lawyer straddling two lives and two cultures while studying at Harvard. Her family life back in Sydney is defined by her complex relationship with her father, Tony, a prominent Aboriginal rights activist.

'As Simone juggles the challenges of a modern woman's life - career, family, friends and relationships - her father is confronting his own uncomfortable truths, as his secret double-life implodes.

'Can Simone accept her father for the man he is and forgive him for the man he's not?' (From the publisher's website.)

2008 winner y separately published work icon Anonymous Premonition Yvette Holt , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2008 Z1457819 2008 selected work poetry 'Winner of the 2005 David Unaipon Award, Anonymous Premonition gives the low-down on what it is to be an Indigenous woman today. Her collection of startling and fresh poems treats us to an energetic and unconventional journey from love, sex, empowerment and travel to motherhood and family, activism and grief.' (Source: Publisher's blurb)
2006 winner y separately published work icon Swallow the Air Dust on Waterglass Tara June Winch , 2003 St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2006 Z1265164 2003 selected work short story (taught in 33 units)

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.

2004 winner y separately published work icon Her Sister's Eye Vivienne Cleven , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2002 Z985143 2002 single work novel (taught in 7 units)

'...always remember where you're from... To the Aboriginal Families of Mundra this saying brings either comfort or pain. To Nana Vida it is what binds the generations. To the unwilling savant Archie Corella it portends a fate too cruel to name. For Sophie Salte, whose woman's body and child's mind make her easy prey, nothing matters while her sister Murilla is there to watch over her.

For Murilla, fierce protector and unlikely friend to Caroline Drysdale, wife of the town patriarch, what matters is survival. In a town with a history of vigilante raids, missing persons and unsolved murders, survival can be all that matters'. (Source: back cover, 2002 edition)

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