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The Kate Challis RAKA Award
Subcategory of Australian Centre Literary Awards
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The Kate Challis RAKA Award is presented to Indigenous creative artists. It was established by Bernard Smith, the art and cultural historian, to honour the memory of his late wife, Kate Challis. The award is offered in a five-year cycle with a different area of the arts - creative writing, drama, the visual arts, scriptwriting and poetry - being rewarded each year.

For more details of the award, see the Australian Centre. Sighted: 15/11/2013


2020 winner y separately published work icon Archival-Poetics Colonial Archive : Archival-Poetics Natalie Harkin , Sydney : Vagabond Press , 2019 15786299 2019 selected work poetry

'Archival-Poetics offers a unique contribution to Australian poetry through a new way to write into, and out from, the State’s Aboriginal archives and from a Narungga woman’s standpoint. It will demonstrate an embodied reckoning with the colonial archive and those traumatic, contested and buried episodes of history that inevitably return to haunt. Family records at the heart of this work include South Australia’s Aboriginal Protection Board and Children’s Welfare Board records, highlighting assimilation policy measures targeting Aboriginal girls for removal into indenture domestic labour. Three interconnected threads underpin this Archival-poetic writing, and each thread is expanded as the theoretical heart to each section of the work: On Blood Memory – a reclamation of re-imagined histories through cultural identity (blood), narrative (memory) and connection to country (land); On Haunting as a ‘way of knowing’ – an active and honouring response to that which is silent and hidden; the seething and felt, yet unseen presence of colonial violence or unfinished business; On the Colonial Archive – a poetic spotlight on the colonial State and those key institutions, repositories and systems that maintain and perpetuate dominant discourses and representations on Indigenous peoples and histories. Each section of the work will be a potent, multi-textual artefact in its own right that centres the affective, transformative and honouring dimensions of haunting, where the potency of place, colonial-histories and blood-memory collide. They each bear witness to the state’s archivisation processes and the revelation of what is both absent and present on the record. As a trilogy offering in one volume of work, it collectively considers important questions of representation, surveillance and agency; and questions of power that resonate in our daily lives, on and through the colonial archive. It also bears witness to individual and collective loss in order to actively honour and contribute, beyond the local, to larger counter-hegemonic narratives of colonial history. This work demonstrates a critical-creative way of decolonising and transforming the colonial archive through poetic refusal, resistance and memory-making; a poetry that also engages theory, images and primary source archival material.'

2018 winner Yhonnie Scarce for 'Remembering Royalty'.
2017 winner The Fever and the Fret Jub Clerc , 2018 single work drama

'Lizzy and her grandparents have endured, suffered, and even celebrated loss for decades - but now unseen events are tearing their world apart. A beautiful ode to love and memory, The Fever and the Fret is one family’s tale of resilience as they reconcile small town life with a new, ever-changing world.'

Source: National Playwrighting Festival program.

2016 winner y separately published work icon The Swan Book Alexis Wright , Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2013 Z1836223 2013 single work novel (taught in 14 units)

'The new novel by Alexis Wright, whose previous novel Carpentaria won the Miles Franklin Award and four other major prizes including the Australian Book Industry Awards Literary Fiction Book of the Year Award. The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute teenager called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans driven from other parts of the country, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city. The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the wild energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale.' (Publisher's blurb)

2015 winner y separately published work icon Mogwie-Idan : Stories of the Land Lionel Fogarty , Sydney : Vagabond Press , 2012 Z1935398 2012 selected work poetry 'Mogwie-Idan: Stories of the Land' showcases the intelligence of the Aboriginal grassroots struggle in contemporary Australia, laying open the realness of Lionel Fogarty's Murri mission poetry. The Aboriginal struggle in Australia is not over, but here handed to the next generations to promote their strength. Biame guide! Biame bless!' (Source: Vagabond Press website
2014 winner form y separately published work icon Toomelah Ivan Sen , ( dir. Ivan Sen ) Australia : Bunya Productions , 2011 Z1776156 2011 single work film/TV (taught in 1 units)

'The film is set entirely in the remote Indigenous community of Toomelah, located on the NSW, QLD border. It was created as a mission during the 1930s, bringing together Gamilaroi and Bigambal people from the surrounding area.

'The story centres on Daniel, a small ten year old boy who dreams of being a gangster. He is kicked out of school and befriends a local gang leader, until a rival gangster arrives back from jail to reclaim his turf. A showdown ensues and Daniel is caught in the middle, leaving him with a choice to make about his uncertain future.

'Toomelah is a deeply personal story, that intimately depicts mission life in contemporary Australia. The film reveals the challenges facing the young Gamilaroi people of the Toomelah Community. Robbed of much of their traditional culture by Government policy, it is a community on a cultural edge, struggling for an identity. It is a provocative and yet comic story that transports audiences inside the community, creating an authentic world and way of life that is Toomelah.'

Source: Toomelah website.

2013 winner Mabel Juli For her painting Farnkeny Ngarranggarni (Moon Dreaming)
2012 winner Yibiyung Dallas Winmar , 2008 single work drama

'Yibiyung was Dallas [Winmar]'s grandmother and this is her growing-up story. She was one of hundreds of girls swept up in the forced removals of the 1920s and trained to become model domestic servants. But it's Yibiyung's break from this regime and her extraordinary flight across Western Australia which gives her story its rolling, expansive rhythm of survival.' Source: Belvoir Street website, (Sighted 01/09/2008)

2011 winner y separately published work icon That Deadman Dance Kim Scott , Sydney : Picador , 2010 Z1728528 2010 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 43 units)

Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.

'The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.

'But slowly - by design and by accident - things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...' (From the publisher's website.)

2010 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)
2009 winner form y separately published work icon Samson and Delilah Warwick Thornton , ( dir. Warwick Thornton ) Scarlett Pictures CAAMA Productions , 2009 Z1561915 2009 single work film/TV (taught in 9 units)

'Samson and Delilah tells the story of two Aboriginal teenagers in a remote community. They live in a sparse environment but one that absorbs all manner of cultural influences, where dot painting and country music exist side by side. Samson gets through his days by sniffing, while Delilah is the caregiver for her nana before taking a moment for herself to listen to Latino music. Their journey ranges across many of the most urgent issues concerning Indigenous people in Australia, homelessness, poverty, domestic violence and substance abuse, but it does so with tenderness, dignity, and even humour.'

Source: Adelaide Film Festival website, Sighted: 23/02/2009

2007 winner Windmill Baby David Milroy , Josie Ningali Lawford , 2004 single work drama
— Appears in: Contemporary Indigenous Plays 2007; (p. [201]-228)
Windmill Baby is the story of Maymay, an old Aboriginal woman who returns to the deserted Kimberley cattle station that was her home 50 years ago. A one-woman redemption piece told through Indigenous voices, with the endearing characters of Wun-man, Two-man, Aunty Darbella and old Maymay, this play is delivered with the poetry of a campfire storyteller.
2006 joint winner (Creative Prose) 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)

Awarded jointly to Cleven's two novels 'Bitin' Back' and 'Her Sister's Eye'.
2006 joint winner y separately published work icon Bitin' Back Just Call Me Jean Vivienne Cleven , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2001 Z669132 2001 single work novel (taught in 7 units) 'When the Blackout's star player Nevil Dooley wakes one morning to don a frock and 'eyeshada', his mother's idle days at the bingo hall are gone forever. Mystified and clueless, single parent Mavis takes bush-cunning and fast footwork to unravel the mystery behind this sudden change of face... Hilarity prevails while desperation builds in the race to save Nevil from the savage consequences of discovery in a town where a career in footy is a young black man's only escape. Neither pig shoots, bust-ups at the Two Dogs, bare-knuckle sessions in the shed or even a police siege can slow the countdown on this human time bomb.' (Source: Publisher's blurb) Awarded jointly to Cleven's two novels 'Bitin' Back' and 'Her Sister's Eye'.
2005 winner (Poetry) y separately published work icon Ngarla Songs Alexander Brown , Brian Geytenbeek , Fremantle : Fremantle Press Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre , 2003 Z1091225 2003 anthology lyric/song biography essay

'Ngarla Songs is a unique bilingual presentation of sixty-eight anecdotal songs composed by Ngarla people. They describe the thrill of the hunt, the wonder of whales and other events and life experiences as seen through Ngarla eyes.

...These cameos of everyday life in the Pilbara have been written down, translated and recorded in English. Alexander Brown and Brian Geytenbeek have worked together for ten years to capture the wit, wisdom and vibrancy expressed in these songs.' (Source: Fremantle Press website)

2004 winner (Script Writing) form y separately published work icon Dust Ivan Sen , 1999 Autumn Films SBS Television , 2000 Z1219793 1999 single work film/TV

Deep within the cotton country way out west, a convoy of cars throw a dust trail into the dark sky. Leroy, angry with the world for hating his black skin, drives his mother and best mate to weed the back-breaking rows of the cotton fields. They are joined by two white teenagers with their own troubles. While tensions between the two groups emerge during the heat of the day, the huge dust storm will bring them together in a way none of them could have imagined.

2003 winner Ricky Maynard for his photograph 'Arthur' from the series Returning to Places that Name Us (2000).
2002 joint winner (Drama) y separately published work icon Aliwa! Dallas Winmar , 2001 Sydney : Currency Press , 2002 Z796724 2001 single work drama Indigenous story 'Traces the true story of three Aboriginal sisters whose mother was determined to keep her children when officials wanted to remove them following the death of their father. The story is that of the three sisters of the playwright Jack Davis.' Source: Publisher's blurb. Joint winner with Jane Harrison for her play, Stolen.
2002 joint winner (Drama) Stolen Jane Harrison , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 1998 Z297208 1998 single work drama (taught in 7 units)
— Appears in: アボリジニ戯曲選 : ストールン; 嘆きの七段階 2001;

Stolen is based upon the lives of five Indigenous people, who go by the names of Sandy, Ruby, Jimmy, Anne and Shirley, who dealt with the issues for forceful removal by the Australian government.

Joint winner with Dallas Winmar for her play, Aliwa.
2001 winner (Creative Prose) y separately published work icon Benang : From the Heart Kim Scott , Fremantle : Fremantle Press , 1999 Z135862 1999 single work novel (taught in 31 units) 'Oceanic in its rhythms and understanding, brilliant in its use of language and image, moving in its largeness of spirit, compelling in its narrative scope and style, Benang is a novel of celebration and lament, of beginning and return, of obliteration and recovery, of silencing and of powerful utterance. Both tentative and daring, it speaks to the present and a possible future through stories, dreams, rhythms, songs, images and documents mobilised from the incompletely acknowledged and still dynamic past.' (Publisher's website)
2000 winner (Poetry) y separately published work icon Night Song and Other Poems John Muk Muk Burke , Darwin : Northern Territory University Press , 1999 Z1146352 1999 selected work poetry
1999 winner (Scriptwriting) form y separately published work icon Round Up Rima Tamou , Sydney : Core Films , 1996 Z950424 1996 single work film/TV

Hugo is the stockman son of the white boss at Taipan Creek station. Desi is an Aboriginal stockman. Their bitter fist fight lands them in hospital in the big city. In this unfamiliar environment, they learn they are not as different as they first thought.

1997 winner y separately published work icon Up the Road John Harding , 1991 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press Playbox Theatre Centre , 1997 Z80865 1991 single work drama humour

A celebration of life, love and family set in the remote Aboriginal community of Flat Creek, where life is pretty uncomplicated—until a Canberra bureaucrat returns home. (Source: Australian Plays website)

1996 winner y separately published work icon Us Mob : History, Culture, Struggle : An Introduction to Indigenous Australia Mudrooroo , Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1995 Z844725 1995 selected work criticism
1995 winner y separately published work icon Black from the Edge Kevin Gilbert , South Melbourne : Hyland House , 1994 Z21621 1994 selected work poetry

'Kevin Gilbert was widely respected as Aboriginal Australia's most prominent poet and most powerful spokesman before his much-lamented death early in 1993. This moving and stirring collection of poetry represents the last complete work he passed for publication prior to his death. Direct, Passionate, Humane and full of keen wit, Gilbert's verse appeals across racial and ideological boundaries to the noble soul within us all. As well as poems that plea for a greater understanding of the plight of Aboriginal Australia, Black from the Edge contains poems that reveal another side of this inspirational man; a pensive, candid genius attempting to achieve a quietus in the last years of his extraordinary life.' (Source: Goodreads website)

1994 winner (Scriptwriting) form y separately published work icon BeDevil Mr Chuck; Choo Choo Choo Choo; Lovin' the Spin I'm In Tracey Moffatt , ( dir. Tracey Moffatt ) Australia : Anthony Buckley Productions , 1993 Z24742 1993 single work film/TV (taught in 1 units)

A trilogy of short stories in which characters are haunted by memories, spirits and ghosts, and bewitched by the past. 'BeDevil captures the allusive quality of parochial, local, familial ghost stories, the sort of stories that are passed down through generations, that are repeated and embroidered upon so that eventually they are woven into quotidian discourse and a passing reference can evoke a complex texture of ghostliness' (Lesley Stern, Photofile).

The three stories are: 'Mr Chuck.' 'Choo Choo Choo Choo,' and 'Lovin' the Spin I'm In.'
1993 winner Lin Onus

for his sculptural installation They Took the Children Away (1993).

1992 winner (Drama) y separately published work icon No Sugar Jack Davis , 1980 (Manuscript version)x400874 Z264453 1980 single work drama (taught in 21 units)
— Appears in: ドリーマーズ : ノー・シュガー 2006;

'The spirited story of the Millimurra family’s stand against government ‘protection’ policies in 1930s Australia.' (From the publisher's website.)

1991 winner (Creative Prose) y separately published work icon Up Rode the Troopers : The Black Police in Queensland Bill Rosser , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1990 Z1365158 1990 single work prose

'In this chilling story of the infamous Queensland Native Police Force, a murderous band of black troopers led by white officers. Rosser's investigations were triggered by the story of Cyclone Jack of the Bandjalung people, who recounts the atrocities witnessed by his grandfather and father (then a boy of five). Cyclone Jack's disturbing oral account is backed and skilfully crosscut with careful documentary research and leavened with gentle, at times, raucous, humour. [Rosser] has produced a compellingly readable account, in vivid, flesh-and-blood terms, of little-known events from Queensland's suppressed past.' (Back cover).