Jeanie Adams was born at Hamilton, Victoria. She completed a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology at Monash University then taught for some time in Victorian schools before becoming a lecturer in Sociology at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. In 1976 she and her family moved to Aurukun, a remote Aboriginal Community in the Far North of Australia. In 1984 she returned to Melbourne and completed a B.Ed (Art & Craft) degree. She drew on her experience at Aurukun when writing her first children's books, Pigs and Honey (1989) and Going for Oysters (1991), the former winning the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers. Both books have been translated into Wik-Mungkan, a major language of the Aurukun Aboriginal people. The English version employs the voice of Aurukun storytellers and has been endorsed by the Aurukun community as an authentic portrayal of their lifestyle. Adams is also the illustrator of Christobel Mattingley's Tucker's Mob (1992).
Percy Trezise was born in Tallangatta and educated at Albury High School. He served as a pilot during World War II, enlisting on 7 December 1941 and being discharged on 4 September 1945. He moved to Cairns in 1965 to fly for Ansett Airlines and the Aerial Ambulance. A renowned landscape artist, Trezise was also responsible for bringing the Quinkan Aboriginal rock arts sites to public attention. He spent many years photographing the sites and building strong relationships with the Aboriginal people of the Laura area on Cape York Peninsula.
Trezise wrote dozens of children's picture books. Many of them were themed around issues of conservation or Aboriginal mythology, and about half were co-authored with Dick Roughsey. (Trezise became Roughsey's brother in a traditional Aboriginal ceremony and was given the name Warrenby.) Trezise also wrote The Rock Art of South-East Cape York (1971).
In 2004 Trezise was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by James Cook University for service to the north Queensland community. He is survived by his son, Matt Trezise (q.v.).
(Major source: Cairns Post, 23 May 2005)
Dick Roughsey was born near Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1924. His name is translated from his tribal name Goobalathaldin, meaning 'water standing on end' or 'Rough sea'. He received a traditional upbringing in the bush until the age of eight, when he was educated at a Presyterian mission school. After completing primary school he returned to tribal life. At the age of sixteen he went to the Australian mainland, to work as a stockman on cattle stations in North Queensland and as a deckhand on ships near Cairns.
He began to paint using traditional methods with bark. In 1962 he met former Ansett pilot, Percy Trezise, who became his mentor and encouraged him to also use Western methods of painting in oils. Roughsey held successful exhibitions of his work in many Australian cities. He and Trezise collaborated for many years, producing picture books which retold traditional stories. These were among the first to introduce Aboriginal culture to children. Roughsey also illustrated The Turkey and the Emu (1978), a traditional tale retold by his wife, Elsie Roughsey
Roughsey lived with his wife and their six children on Mornington Island, but usually spent half of each year on the North Queensland mainland. With Percy Trezise he discovered and studied the art in Aboriginal cave galleries in the Laura region of Cape York. One of these was the Quinkin gallery, which inspired the award-winning books The Quinkins and Turramulli the Giant Quinkin.
He was the first chairman of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council in 1973.
An Aboriginal activist and respected community leader, Noel Pearson came from the Guugu Yimithirr Aboriginal community at Hope Vale, a Lutheran Mission on Cape York Peninsula. He graduated with an honours degree in history from the University of Sydney. His honours thesis focused on the history of the Hope Vale Lutheran Mission from 1900-1950. Pearson completed a law degree in 1993.
In 1990 Pearson co-founded the Cape York Land Council where he was Executive Director until he resigned in 1996. He was also a legal advisor for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. He continues to advise a number of Indigenous organisations in Cape York, and advocates self-determination and land rights for Indigenous people.
Noel Pearson's 2009 essay 'Radical Hope', published in Quarterly Essay, was shortlisted for the 2010 John Button Prize. In 2015, Pearson had been name a Vice-Chancellor's Fellow of the University of Melbourne.
Pearson, Noel 2014, A Rightful Place : Race, Recognition and a More Complete Commonwealth, Collingwood, Vic. Black Inc. Books.
Pat Torres belongs to three Indigenous groups - the Jabirr Jabirr from the north of Broome, the Nyul Nyul from the Beagle Bay area and the Yawuru people from south of Broome. She is a writer, artist, illustrator, community worker, health worker, educator and Aboriginal administrator and has a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education. She became a health worker with the national Aboriginal trachoma program in Western Australia and in 1978 was employed as a Legal Aid Field Officer with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre. Following this Torres took up the position as Curriculum Development Officer for the State Education Department in Hobart in 1981. On returning to Western Australia she was appointed Secretary to the Kimberley Land Council at Derby and worked for the Federal Deparment of Education and Youth Affairs from 1982 to 1989 in Broome, Darwin and Canberra..
In the following years, Torres was appointed as a Lecturer in the Centre for Aborigianl Studies at Curtin University of Technology teaching Aboriginal Studies to non-Indigenous students. She trained in Linguistics at Curtin University and the University of Western Australia, graduating with a Masters Degree in Education and spent several years retrieving the languages of her grandparents and collecting oral histories from the Yawuru and Nyul Nyul traditional elders. Torres is an active Aboriginal community member and apart from writing her own stories, she is recording the Kimberley oral history. Torres has worked with many Kimberley community organisations including the Yawuru Aboriginal Corporation, Winarn Aboriginal Arts and Crafts, Magabala Books and the Broome Aboriginal Media Association.
William McGregor is the author of A Functional Grammar of Gooniyandi and a number of journal articles. McGregor held a Research Council Fellowship in linguistics at the University of Melbourne and his project was to write grammars on languages of the Kimberley, that is: Nyulnyul, Warrwa, Unggumi, Umiida, Unggarrangu, Yawijibaya and Wangkajunga.
Christobel Mattingley's first school was the Hopetoun School, Brighton. In 1939 her family moved to Sydney, and she attended school at the Presbyterian Ladies' College, Pymble. She began writing poetry and keeping nature diaries and notes on her surroundings. Her first published work, observations of bird life, was published in the children's pages of Wildlife Magazine.
When her father moved to Tasmania to work she attended The Friends' School (1945-1947). She graduated with BA Hons from the University of Tasmania, and worked for the Department of Immigration, Canberra. In 1951 she gained her formal libarianship qualifications, then became Regional Librarian in the Yallourn-Morwell-Mirboo libraries, Victoria. She married David Mattingley in 1953 and they went to England on a two-year working holiday. On their return she worked at Prince Alfred College (Adelaide), one of the first professional librarians to be appointed to a school in South Australia (SA). She spent time at home bringing up their three children, returning to work in 1966 and establishing a library at St Peter's Girls' School. After further study she was made an Associate of the Library Association of Australia (1971). She worked on the library staff at Wattle Park Teachers' College (1971-1972) and at Murray Park College of Advanced Education (CAE) (1973-1974).
Since then Mattingley has been a full-time writer. She says of her writing that 'the feelings come before the words'; that the feelings come from her own experiences as a child, but the stories come from contemporary situations. She enjoys 'people-watching', and says that she finds stories among people everywhere. She has travelled widely within Australia and overseas. In 1977 she was commissioned by the SA Film Corporation to research and write 14 documentary film scripts. In 1977 she compiled the bibliography Recent translations of European fiction for older children and young adults for the Library Association of Australia.
Mattingley was a part-time student in Aboriginal Studies at the SA CAE 1978-1981, and from 1983-1988 she researched and edited the major work, Survival In Our Own Land: 'Aboriginal' Experiences in 'South Australia' since 1836 (1988), which was a watershed in perspectives on Australian history. Her book was shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year Awards 1988 and shortlisted for the SA Festival Awards 1990.
Mattingley herself has a strong feeling of affinity for the land. She is passionate in her concern for conservation, social justice and aid to developing countries. In 1987 the City of South Perth inaugurated annual Christobel Mattingley Awards for Young Writers. She was made an Honorary Doctor of the University of SA for services to literature and social justice issues, 1995 and a Member of the Order of Australia, 1996. She was the recipient of the third Pheme Tanner Award for services to children's literature, 1999.
'Dr Rob Amery has been working with Aboriginal languages since 1980, when he worked as a nurse at Balgo (Kimberley, Western Australia) with Kukatja-speaking people. He has taught linguistics and literacy to speakers of a range of languages, including many South Australian languages. He teaches Linguistics at the University of Adelaide, including a course on Aboriginal languages and a course on Language Reclamation, with a focus on Kaurna, the language of the Adelaide Plains, into which he has conducted research for the past 25 years.' (https://www.edx.org/bio/rob-amery)
Yolngu woman, Helen Rrikawuku had participated in The Talking Namba resource in 2006 as a teacher. The Resource had been produced as part of the Strong Literacy and Numeracy in Communities project, Northern Territory Department of Education and Training with funding from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.