Oodgeroo (meaning 'paperbark tree') of the Noonuccal people of Stradbroke Island was known as Kath Walker until she returned to her language name in 1988 as a sign of protest against Australia's Bicentenary celebrations and as a symbol of pride in an Aboriginal heritage.
Brought up on North Stradbroke Island east of Brisbane, Oodgeroo Noonuccal was educated at Dunwich State School until the age of thirteen and then became a domestic servant. She joined the army during the war and in 1942 married her childhood friend Bruce Walker, a descendant from the Logan and Albert River peoples near Brisbane. They had two sons, Denis Walker and Vivian Walker, who both later took language names.
From the 1960s Oodgeroo Noonuccal became increasingly involved in civil rights and the Aboriginal activist movements and held several public positions. One of the founding members of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, she served as state secretary for ten years and in this capacity she was a leader in the campaign to grant Aboriginal people full citizenship rights in the 1967 referendum. From the 1970s Oodgeroo Noonuccal was chairperson of the National Tribal Council, the Aboriginal Arts Board, the Aboriginal Housing Committee and the Queensland Aboriginal Advancement League.
As a writer, delegate and spokesperson for her people's cause she travelled in China, Europe, the US and Africa, representing Aboriginal Australia. Oodgeroo Noonuccal was awarded honorary doctorates by several universities and received numerous awards. She was made MBE but returned the honour in 1988, as a protest against the government's lack of support for Aboriginal rights.
In addition to her reputation as a poet of national and international recognition, Oodgeroo Noonuccal is also known as a pioneer in Aboriginal education, having opened her home at Moongalba for educational camps for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. She described herself as an educator, storyteller and poet. As well as writing poetry, Oodgeroo Noonuccal wrote and illustrated children's books, performed in films, and actively supported Black Australian theatre. A film, Shadow Sister, was made about her in 1977 by Frank Heimans.
Oodgeroo Noonuccal was buried with great ceremony on Stradbroke Island.
Sally Morgan's parents were William Joseph (a plumber) and Gladys Milroy. After her father's death, Morgan and her four siblings were raised by her mother and grandmother. Having been told that they were of Indian background, she discovered in her teens that the family had "part"-Aboriginal ancestry from her mother's and grandmother's side. This discovery motivated her later research into her family's history and culminated in the writing of her autobiographical work, My Place, which integrates the life stories of her mother (Gladys Milroy), her grandmother (Daisy Corunna), and her grandmother's brother (Arthur Corunna). She married Paul Morgan (a teacher) in 1972. In 1974, she completed her BA at the University of Western Australia, majoring in psychology, and continued with postgraduate diplomas in Counselling Psychology, Computing and Library Studies at the Western Australian Institute of Technology.
My Place, published in 1987, immediately became a best-seller, regarded as a revelation for white readers into the plight of Aboriginal people. However, the book's extraordinary success has also drawn some criticism, from white and Aboriginal voices, raising questions of authenticity and the construction of Aboriginality, as its author had not experienced life in a 'typical' Aboriginal community. Yet the book has become an 'Australian classic', with more than half a million copies sold in Australia to date. It has been translated into several foreign languages. Morgan has also gained a considerable international reputation as an artist, and has written and illustrated children's books. The Art of Sally Morgan was published in 1996.
Morgan has won numerous awards and prizes, among them the Human Rights Award for her 1989 biography of an Aboriginal relative, Jack McPhee, Wanamurraganya. In 1997, she was appointed Director of the University of Western Australia Centre for Indigenous Art and History. She has also held the positions of Chair of Aboriginal Literature Committee and membership of the Literature Board of Australia Council. Morgan worked at the School of Indigenous Studies (University of Western Australia) in the area of oral history. In a 2004 interview, she said that she sees writing as
a vehicle to give people a voice, for people to be heard, a vehicle that can tell our family stories and give a deeper balance and insight into the past as well as the present. I have been helping people to tell their stories. The last eight years I have been working with other Indigenous people and have been doing editorial work for oral history projects, which have been published as community resources. (Source: Interview with Blanch Lake, Aboriginal Information and Liaison Officer, Arts Law)
She continues to write and illustrate children's books, for which she has won or been shortlisted for a wide range of awards.
Dr. Ruby Langford Ginibi was born at Box Ridge Mission, Coraki, on the north coast of New South Wales in 1934. A proud Bundjalung woman, she grew up in Bonalbo and attended high school in Casino. When she turned fifteen, she moved to Sydney where she qualified as a clothing machinist. Married at an early age, she had nine children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. For many years, she lived and camped in the bush around Coonabarabran, working at fencing, lopping and ring-barking trees and pegging kangaroo skins. At other times, she lived in Sydney and was employed in clothing factories.
Ginibi made her literary debut at fifty-four, when her first book Don't Take Your Love To Town was released in 1988, Australia's Bicentennial Year. This book, which revealed the struggles and trials faced by Aboriginal women, won her a Human Rights Award.
Her second book, Real Deadly, was published in 1992 and her third, My Bundjalung People (1994), is an account of her return to the mission in Coraki to locate and reconnect with her extended family. Her fourth book, Haunted By the Past ,was published in 1999 and recounts the story of her son Nobby's incarceration.
Ginibi was not only an author, but also a lecturer and historian in Aboriginal history, culture, and politics at various universities and colleges. Recognised as a spokesperson, educator and recorder of Koori culture, she has travelled and lectured at home and abroad.
Ginibi received an inaugural History Fellowship from the Ministry of Arts in 1990, an inaugural Honorary Fellowship from the Australian National Museum in 1995, and an inaugural Doctorate of Letters (Honors Causia) from La Trobe University in 1998.
Her tribal name 'Ginibi' (black swan) was given to her in 1990 by her aunt, Eileen Morgan, a tribal elder of Box Ridge Mission.
Professor 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.
In 2007 Anita released three titles: the novel Not Meeting Mr Right, the poetry collection I'm Not Racist, But... : A Collection of Social Observations, and the children's novel, Yirra and Her Deadly Dog, Demon. These were followed by Avoiding Mr Right and Manhattan Dreaming in 2008 and 2011 respectively. In 2011, Anita released Paris Dreaming and Demon Guards the School Yard, which was written with the students of La Perouse Public School in Sydney for the award-winning Yarning Strong series. Her novel Tiddas is set in Brisbane and was published in 2014. It was followed by Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms in 2016. Anita also edited the anthology Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, which was released in 2018 by Black Inc.
In 2004 Anita was listed in the Bulletin magazine’s 'Smart 100'. Her memoir Am I Black Enough for You? was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and she was a finalist in the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards (Local Hero). Anita has made guest appearances on many television programs including the Einstein Factor, Message Stick, Vulture, Critical Mass, A Difference of Opinion (all ABC), The Catch Up (Channel 9), Living Black (SBS), The Gathering (NITV), 9am with David and Kim and The Circle (both Channel 10).
Anita is a sought after public speaker and performer, delivering keynote addresses at universities and conferences across the USA, Canada, the UK, Tahiti, Fiji, New Caledonia, Spain, Japan, Austria, Germany and New Zealand. She has also presented at Australian Embassies and Consulates in Vienna, Paris, New York, Atlanta and Shanghai. She is an Ambassador for the GO Foundation, Worawa Aboriginal College and the Sydney Swans, and a Lifetime Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
Anita is a tireless advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing and has been involved in AustLit's BlackWords project since its inception in 2007.
In 2019, Anita was appointed a Professor of Communications at the University of QLD. She currently sits on the Board of the State Library of QLD.
Alexis Wright, activist and award-winning writer, is from the Waanji people from the highlands of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria. After her father, a white cattleman, died when she was five, she grew up with her mother and grandmother in Cloncurry, Queensland. She has worked extensively in government departments and Aboriginal agencies across four Australian states and territories as a professional manager, educator, researcher, and writer.
Wright was coordinator of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Constitutional Convention in 1993 and wrote 'Aboriginal Self Government' for Land Rights News, later quoted in full in Henry Reynolds's Aboriginal Sovereignty (1996). Her involvement as a writer and an activist in many Aboriginal organisations and campaigns has included work on mining, publications, fund raising, and land rights both in Australia and overseas.
Besides being published widely in magazines and journals, Wright has edited Take Power Like this Old Man Here, an anthology of writings on the history of the land rights movement in Central Australia, which she edited for the Central Land Council. She has also written Grog War (1997) a book dedicated to the achievements of the traditional Aboriginal Elders of Tennant Creek in their war against alcohol.
Her first novel, Plains of Promise (1997), was nominated for national and international literary awards. However, it was her second novel, Carpentaria that made Wright a figure in world literature, when she won the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2007. Previously, this work had been rejected by every major publisher in Australia until published by Giramondo in 2006. Subsequently, Carpentaria was nominated for and won five national literary awards and has been re-published and translated in the United States and in Europe. Wright’s third novel, The Swan Book (2013), was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin.
Wright has participated in many writers' festivals, conferences, readings and writers workshops in both Australia and overseas, and has been community writer-in-residence for the Central Land Council. Although Wright received a rudimentary education while at school, she has completed degrees in social studies, media and creative writing at universities in Adelaide and Melbourne, and has been a Distinguished Research Fellow at The Writing & Society Research Centre, University of Western Sydney. In November 2017, she was appointed as the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne.
A Wiradjuri woman from Central New South Wales Kerry performed and conducted writing workshops nationally and internationally. She was the inaugural Chairperson of the First Nations Australians Writers Network (FNAWN). In 2013 she co-edited a collection of works with the Us Mob Writing (UMW) group ‘By Close of Business, and was co-editor for the Ora Nui Journal a collaborative collection between First Nations Australia writers and Maori writers.
Kerry was a member of the Aboriginal Studies Press Advisory Committee and her poetry and prose has been published in many journals and anthologies nationally and internationally, including in the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature and the literary journal, Southerly. She was a member of the ACT UMW group and FNAWN.
She edited, published and was published in numerous books and publications including:
• Talking About Country: Poetry Collection (Kuracca)
• The Strength of Us as Women: Black Women Speak (Ed): Ginninderra Press
• Our Place: Stories about good practice in youth work with young Aboriginal people South Sydney Youth Services: Co-editor with Shane Brown
• Message Stick: Contemporary Aboriginal Writing (Ed): Jukurrpa Books
• Ngunnunggula (Ed) A collection of works written by Aboriginal writers and Black Woman, Black Life: (Wakefield Press)
Kerry was a highly awarded recipient of support for her work as a poet and editor. In 2010 she received funding for the Australia Council to attend a poetry festival in the USA. In 2006 she received an ‘Outstanding Achievement in Poetry’ award and ‘Poet of Merit’ Award from the International Society of Poets. In 2005 she toured Aotearoa New Zealand as part of the Honouring Words 3rd International Indigenous Authors Celebration Tour. In 2003 she was awarded an International Residence from ATSIAB to attend Art Omi, New York, USA, in 1997 she toured South Africa performing in ‘ECHOES’ a national tour of the spoken word. In 2006 she received an 'Outstanding Achievement in Poetry' award and a 'Poet of Merit' Award from the International Society of Poets.
Her works has been translated in French, Korean, Bengali, Dutch and other languages.
Kerry was the daughter of Kevin Gilbert.
Poet and writer, Ali Cobby Eckermann was born in 1963 at Brighton, Adelaide, on Kaurna Country, and grew up on Ngadjuri country between Blyth and Brinkworth in mid-north South Australia. She travelled extensively and lived most of her adult life on Arrernte country, Jawoyn country, and Larrakia country in the Northern Territory. When she was 34, Eckermann met her birth mother Audrey, and learnt that her mob was Yankunytjatjara from north-west South Australia. Her mother was born near Ooldea, south of Maralinga on Kokatha country. Eckermann also relates herself to the Kokatha mob.
Eckermann’s first book of poetry, Little Bit Long Time, was published by the Australian Poetry Centre as part of the New Poets series in 2009. Her poetry reflects her journey to reconnect with her Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha family. In 2011, her first verse novel, His Father’s Eyes, was published; aimed at young readers, it was published as part of the Yarning Strong series by Laguna Bay Publishing and Oxford University Press.
Her second verse novel, Ruby Moonlight, won the black&write! Indigenous Editing and Writing Project, was published in 2012 by Magabala Books, won the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry, and was awarded Book of the Year at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2013.
Since then, she has published her autobiography Too Afraid to Cry (2013) and the collection of poetry Inside My Mother (2015). In 2016, one of her poems was translated into Bangla (the Bengali language) and published in Cordite.
In 2017, Eckermann won both the Red Room Poetry Fellowship and the Windham Campbell Prize (Poetry).
Melissa Lucashenko is an award-winning novelist who lives between Brisbane and the Bundjalung nation. She was born and grew up in Brisbane. After working as a barmaid, delivery driver and karate instructor, Melissa received an honours degree in public policy from Griffith University, graduating in 1990.
Her writing explores the stories and passions of ordinary Australians with particular reference to Aboriginal people and others living around the margins of the first world. Melissa has been an independent screenplay assessor for Screen NSW and Screen Tasmania, and a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council.
A versatile and prolific author, she has published (and won prizes for) young adult novels, contemporary literary fiction, and non-fiction.
Among her awards for writing are the Dobbie Prize, the Prize for Indigenous Writing (Victorian Premier's Literary Awards), and the Queensland Literary Award (Fiction Book Award). She has been shortlisted and longlisted for the Stella Prize, the Miles Franklin, the Aurealis Awards, the NSW Premier's Literary Awards, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. In 2013, her non-fiction essay 'Sinking Below Sight' won her a Walkley Award.
She is also a regular contributor to Griffith Review.
Academic, lawyer and writer, Larissa Behrendt graduated from Harvard Law School with a doctorate in 1998. Her thesis was later published as the book Achieving Social Justice : Indigenous Rights and Australia's Future (2003). She is admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW and the ACT as a barrister.
Since 2001 Behrendt has been Professor of Law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney and has published extensively on property law, Indigenous rights, dispute resolution and Aboriginal women's issues. Other works include Aboriginal Dispute Resolution (1995).
In 2003 she was awarded, with Marcia Langton, the Neville Bonner Indigenous University Teacher of the Year Award. Behrendt has been a director of Ngiya, National Institute of Indigenous Law, Policy and Practice, a council member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, a Judicial Member of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, Equal Opportunity Division and the Alternate Chair of the Serious Offenders Review Board. She has also been a Board Member of the Museum of Contemporary Art and a Director of the Sydney Writers' Festival and the Bangarra Dance Theatre.
In 2009 she was named NAIDOC person of the year and in March 2011 became the first Chair of Indigenous Research at the University of Technology, Sydney. Since April 2011, Larissa's column Pointed View is a regular in Tracker magazine.
First Australians. Edited with Cathy Hammer, Sydney Legal Information Access Centre, 2013.
Indigenous Australia for Dummies, Wiley, 2012.
Nakkiah Lui a playwright who grew up in Western Sydney and is the daughter of a Gamilaroi woman from Gunnedah and a Torres Strait Islander. As a playwright she had drawn from her own life and community in the Mount Druitt area, and wrote her first play whilst studying in Canada.
Nakkiah was the first recipient of both The Dreaming Award by The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Arts Board of the Australia Council; and the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright award.
Writer and poet, Samantha Faulkner is from the Badu and Moa Islands in the Torres Strait and the Yadhaigana and Wuthuthi/Wuthati peoples of Cape York Peninsula. She has represented women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests on local, state and national boards and has been a Director of the ACT Torres Strait Islanders Corporation.
Faulkner began her love of writing poetry when she was a teenager. It was during the 1990s, that she received a research grant from the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies to research and document her grandfather's life story, which led to the publication of her work, Life B'long Ali Drummond : A Life in the Torres Strait in 2007. This work represented her passion to share the stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with non-Indigenous Australians and the internationally community. Faulkner continues to write and has recently been an editor of By Close of Business : Us Mob Writing , and contributed to the New Zealand Maori literary journal issue, Ora Nui: A Collection of Maori and Aboriginal Literature. She has previously shared the BlackWords National Coordinator role with Dr Jeanine Leane from 2009-2010, AIATSIS. (Source: Faulkner 2014)
Tracey Moffatt studied visual communications at the Queensland College of Art and graduated in 1982. The second eldest from a family of five, Tracey and three of her siblings were fostered by a non-Indigenous family in the mid-1960s, growing up in the working-class Brisbane suburb of Mt Gravatt. As a teenager Tracey often encouraged her younger brother and sisters to participate in her backyard neighbourhood make-believe plays, dressing them up in theatrical costume designs while pursuing an inner desire to capture those moments through photographic images.
Throughout working various jobs in and around Brisbane, Tracey was paying off her college tuition fees, as well as saving for her first overseas trip to Europe. During her holidays in England, Tracey was famously arrested while protesting the use of the Aboriginal flag for the re-enactment of the First Fleet arrival for the bicentenary celebrations in 1988. Television images of that arrest made international headlines both in the United Kingdom, Australia and beyond. Moffatt was an original member of The Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative which was formed in 1987 by a group of ten Sydney-based artists, including Bronwyn Bancroft, Euphemia Bostock, Brenda Croft, Fiona Foley, Fernanda Martins, Raymond Meeks, Avril Quail, Michael Riley and Jeffrey Samuels. By the early 1990s she back in Sydney, living and working there for a considerable number of years before relocating to Chelsea, New York.
Her first feature film, BeDevil, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1993 and she has also made documentary films, written essays and directed music videos. Since her first exhibition in 1989, Moffatt has shown her photographically based art in numerous exhibitions in Australia and abroad. Her work is held in various international private and public collections that include Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Tate Modern (London), Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Tokyo), National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney) and the Parliament House Collection (Canberra). Undoubtedly one of Australia's most high-profile individual artists, Moffatt is continuously in demand as a public speaker in reference to her own unique style of photographic imagery, but she seldom holds private or public interviews, preferring to leave her captive audience intrigued as to the genesis of her work.
In December, 2003 a crowd of more than 1000 people gathered to witness one of the most exciting events in visual arts being displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, it was the opening of 'Retrospective' which detailed 30 years spanning her career. Tracey divides her time between New York City and Noosa Heads on Queensland's Sunshine Coast where she continues to produce her own unique brand of photographic artistry for collectors and consumers of art.
In 2017, she represented Australia at the 57th Venice Biennale.
Ambelin Kwaymullina graduated from the University of Western Australia in 1998 with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons). She worked in the areas of natural resource management, law reform and politics. Kwaymullina published her first work for children, the picture book Crow and the Waterhole, in 2007.
In February 2010, Fremantle Press announced Ambelin Kwaymullina had been selected among 25 Australian illustrators whose work will be exhibited by the Australian Publishers' Association at the Brologna Children's Book Fair in March 2010 for Crow and the Waterhole. The exhibition promotes Australian culture and literary culture internationally.
She has subsequently published a wide range of children's books, both independently and in collaboration with family members.
Brenda Saunders is a Sydney based urban Aboriginal artist, poet and activist, with family connections to the Wiradjuri language group of New South Wales. She is also a member of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative and her poetry and articles have appeared in numerous poetry journals and collected anthologies in Australia.
Saunders has been a member of the Poets Union NSW and the Round Table Poets and completed her Masters Degree at Wollongong University in 1996.
Wiradjuri woman Dr Jeanine Leane, from south-west New South Wales, grew up on a sheep farm near Gundagai and was educated in Gundagai, Wagga Wagga, Armidale, and Canberra. In 1983, Jeanine was conferred her BA in Literature and History from the University of New England, Armidale, and in 1984 she was awarded a Graduate Diploma of Education from the University of Canberra. After a long career in teaching at secondary and tertiary levels, Jeanine was conferred her PhD in the literature of Aboriginal representation by the University of Technology, Sydney, in 2011.
She has been an Indigenous Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and has held a post-doctoral fellowship at the Australian National University in Canberra. Jeanine was the National Coordinator for BlackWords during 2010 and 2011. In 2012, Jeanine became a recipient of the Australian Research Council Discovery grant for her project 'Reading the Nation: A Critical Study of Aboriginal/Settler Representations in the Contemporary Australian Literary Landscape'.
In 2010, Jeanine's first volume of poetry, Dark Secrets After Dreaming: AD 1887-1961 won the Scanlon Prize for Indigenous Poetry from the Australian Poets' Union, after it had been shortlisted in the David Unaipon Awards in 2006. Her poetry has been published in Hecate: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Women’s Liberation, the Journal for the Association European Studies of Australia, and the Australian Book Review.
Jeanine's novel manuscript Purple Threads won the David Unaipon Award for 2010 at the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, and the following year was published by the University of Queensland Press (UQP). Purple Threads was also shortlisted for the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize and the Victorian Premier's Award for Indigenous Writing.
Widely published on the topic of Aboriginal literature, she has taught creative writing and Aboriginal Literature at the University of Melbourne.
Lisa Bellear was a Goernpil woman of the Noonuccal people of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), Queensland. She was a poet, writer, visual artist, academic and social commentator who was actively involved in Indigenous affairs throughout Australia. She was an executive member of the Black Women's Action in Education Foundation (BWAEF) and was a volunteer broadcaster on 3CR community radio for eleven years on the 'Not Another Koori Show.' She completed a Bachelor of Social Work in 1986 and completed a Master of Arts (Womens Studies) in 1996 from the University of Melbourne.
An avid photographer, Bellear took thousands of photographs over the many years she had spent engaged with Indigenous affairs, both politically and socially. Bellear read at literary festivals, pubs and conferences across Australia and in the USA and was been published nationally in literary journals, newspapers and anthologies.
She died unexpectedly at her home in Melbourne, Victoria.
Doris Pilkington's Aboriginal name is Nugi Garimara and she was born on 'traditional birthing ground under the wintamarra tree' on Balfour Downs Station in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia.
As a toddler, she was removed by authorities from her home at the station, together with her mother Molly Craig and her baby sister, Annabelle. They were sent to Moore River Native Settlement. Molly Craig walked back to Jigalong but was only able to carry baby Annabelle, leaving Doris at the Settlement. At eighteen, Doris left the mission system as the first of its members to qualify as a nursing aide at the Royal Perth Hospital. After marrying and raising a family, she studied journalism and worked in film and television production. In 2002, she was appointed Co-Patron of State and Federal Sorry Day Committee's Journey of Healing.
Doris Pilkington Garimara's story was recorded by the National Library of Australia for the Bringing Them Home oral history project and appeared in the associated publication Many Voices: Reflections on Experiences of Indigenous Child Separation edited by Doreen Mellor and Anna Haebich (2002).
In 2004, she was named a Western Australian State Living Treasure. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Red Ochre Award for outstanding lifelong contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts.
Elizabeth Hodgson is a Wiradjuri woman, born in Wellington, New South Wales. She spent her childhood in a home for fair-skinned Aboriginal children in a Sydney suburb.
After spending many years travelling, Elizabeth decided to make Wollongong, New South Wales, her home. She has been officially welcomed into Wadi Wadi country and has explored her Aboriginality and spirituality in depth since moving there.
From 2003-2008, Hodgson sat on the Literature and History panel of Arts NSW and the Indigenous Arts Reference Group and during that time she was chair of the South Coast Writers' Centre. Elizabeth is the facilitator, mentor, and writer for the South Coast Writers' Centre Aboriginal Oral History Project. In August 2005, she read at Poetry Overload in Melbourne before flying to Macedonia to attend the Struga Poetry Evenings.
Elizabeth has contributed to the organisation of, as well as participating in, the annual Celebrating the Voice (CTV) readings in Wollongong since its inception in 2000. CTV is specific to Indigenous cultures, including Canada and New Zealand. In 2008, CTV toured the Far South Coast with readings in Bermagui, Moruya, Bateman's Bay and Nowra. In 2009, CTV travelled to Wagga Wagga, Naranderra TAFE, Junee Correctional Centre, where they held workshops with the inmates and Albury for a schools visit and participation in Write Around the Murray.
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.' She researched Indigenous Australian literature (Black Words subset) at AustLit: The Resource for Australian Literature and also lectures in Aboriginal Women's Studies at the University of Queensland.
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 homelessness 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.
Yvette moved to Central Australia in 2009, living at Hermannsberg, and has been involved in teaching, research, employment strategy development.
In 2019, Holt received one of three Norma Redpath Studio residencies, part of the Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowships.
Bronwyn Bancroft is an Aboriginal artist and designer from the Bundjalung/Djanbun clan whose artworks have been collected and shown throughout Australia and the world. Bancroft grew up in the country town of Tenterfield and has completed a Diploma of Visual Communications, a Master of Studio Practice and a Master of Visual Arts (Painting).
She founded Designer Aboriginals, a company that showcases her creative works in their different mediums. Bancroft held the position of Chairperson of the National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association, which aimed to pursue equality for Indigenous people through their creativity.
Jennifer Martiniello is an award winning poet, writer, visual artist and academic of Arrernte, Chinese and Anglo-Celtic descent. Her father was Richard Longmore (1914-1985), born Richard Chong at Oodnadatta, South Australia. Martiniello spent a period in the Australian navy and has lectured in various areas of education at the Canberra Institute of Technology and the University of Canberra. Her honours thesis in the Faculty of Arts, ANU was entitled 'Australian Women's Auto-Portraiture: 1970s-1980s' (1991).
Martiniello has worked extensively with Indigenous Australian communities and youth in regional New South Wales and Victoria. In 2005 she was the public officer of the Indigenous Writers Support Group in Canberra, Indigenous Advisor on Youth Programs for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards in Australia for the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Committee, a member of the Advisory Committee of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History at the Australian National University and a member of the Publishing Advisory Committee of Aboriginal Studies Press at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.
Martiniello edited Black Lives, Rainbow Visions: Indigenous Sitings in the Creative Arts (1999), a resource directory of Indigenous peoples working in the contemporary visual, literary and performing arts in the Australian Capital Territory. In 2002 she received an ACT Creative Arts Fellowship to complete her novel Blossoms of the Mulga, to illustrate her children's book Fish and Rainbow and to take up residencies at Varuna Writers' Centre and at Hedgebrook Women Writer's Retreat in Seattle, USA. She was also coordinating editor for issue one of New Dreamings: Indigenous Youth Magazine, 2002. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Polish and Arabic.
Jackie Huggins was awarded the Queensland Premier's Award for Excellence in Indigenous Affairs in 2000, and became a Member in the Order of Australia (AM) for services to the Indigenous community in 2001. These awards highlight her passionate and continuing dedication to the causes of reconciliation, social justice, literacy and women's issues within Indigenous communities.
As Deputy Director of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit at the University of Queensland, Huggins brings a wide experience to her teaching and research. She has been involved in many community, government and educational organisations at local, state and national levels, ranging from reconciliation and Aboriginal welfare forums to continuing appointments on editorial and performing arts boards. A leading Indigenous academic, Huggins is known internationally for her work as an author, historian and activist. The University of Queensland honoured this work in 2006 by awarding Huggins an honorary doctorate and in 2007 she was named University of Queensland Alumnus of the Year.
Huggins has also been Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Work and Human Services at The University of Queensland, spokesperson for the Recognise campaign, co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, chair of the Queensland Domestic Violence Council, a member of the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and the AIATSIS Council, and co-commissioner for Queensland for the Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal Children.
Huggins has written widely on issues of concern to Indigenous communities, including challenging articles on the relationship between Indigenous women and feminism. In 1993 she was commissioned to write a play for the then Contact Youth Theatre (Aboriginal Program). Entitled 'Maarkkings', a story about history, adaptation and survival, the play was performed in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Copenhagen (Denmark) and other parts of Europe. The theatre company has evolved into the very successful Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts organisation which brings Indigenous issues to mainstream theatres and schools. Huggins remains on the board of Kooemba Jdarra.
The highly regarded auto/biography of her mother, Auntie Rita (1994), which she co-authored with Rita Cynthia Huggins, was published in 1994. A collection or her political writings, Sister Girl, appeared in 1998.
Jackie Huggins was conferred an honorary degree of Doctor at Central Queensland University in 2017.
Tara June Winch was born in Wollongong in 1983. She is of Wiradjuri, Afghan, and English heritage. At 17, Winch left home to travel across Australia; she continued on to India before spending six months at a Buddhist centre in Scotland. Back in Australia three years later, she settled in Brisbane.
She studied for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Wollongong. The manuscript for her first book won the David Unaipon Award in 2004, and was published the following year by UQP. In 2007 the Literature Board of the Australia Council funded Winch to undertake a two month residency during 2008 at Ledig House Writers' Colony, Omi, New York. She was also chosen for the 2008-2009 Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative in which she was partnered with Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka. Winch was an ambassador for the Australia Council's Indigenous Literacy Project and is an advocate for human rights. She is also passionate about women's and children's rights to education and advocates through OneThousandOrg.
Winch's first work -- Swallow the Air (2003), a collection of interconnected short stories -- has been on the HSC curriculum for Standard and Advanced English since 2009. Her writing has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Griffith Review, the Bulletin, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and Manoa. She has also written for VOGUE, McSweeneys, VICE, and meagre sums.
In 2016, after a long period of publishing in magazines and periodicals, Winch published her second collection, After the Carnage (originally titled A Year of Impossible Margins).
Her 2020 novel, The Yield, won the Miles Franklin Award.
Winch is now based in France.
Poet Charmaine Papertalk-Green grew up in Mullewa and lives in Geraldton. She won the 2006 National NAIDOC Poster Competition for her work entitled Life Circle. The description of her work on that winning entry is: 'Our past and our future are interconnected. In the circle of life as we move from the past to the future we must always remember and respect everything in the past. Our history, our culture, our traditions, our ancestors and our own experiences. This way we can walk into the future with respect and confidence.'
She has worked as a programs officer for the Department of Information, Communication,Technology and the Arts (2004-2009), as development officer and coordinator for Yamaji Art Centre (Mara Art Aboriginal Corporation), Geraldton, Western Australia, and as Chairperson of Mara Art Aboriginal Corporation.
She also writes and works in the visual arts and in the social science research (Aboriginal health) fields under the name Charmaine Green.
Cathy Freeman is an Australian sprinter who specialises in the 400-metre race. She won her first gold medal at a school athletics championship when she was eight years old. Like many Australian Aboriginal people, Freeman's family was poor and experienced racial discrimination. Her family worked hard to raise the money needed to take her to national competitions. The family moved to Brisbane in 1989 to be near Freeman, who had won a scholarship to Kooralbyn International School, where she was being professionally coached. After moving to Melbourne in 1990, she won a gold medal as a member of the 4 x 100-metre relay team at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand, becoming the first Australian Aboriginal woman to win a gold medal at an international athletics event. In 1990, Freeman was named Aboriginal Athlete of the Year.
At the 1994 Commonwealth Games, held in Victoria, Canada, she made world headlines after winning the 400-metre race, because she flew the Aboriginal flag instead of the Australian flag during her victory lap. Although the Australian team leader barred her from flying the Aboriginal flag, Freeman defied him by flying the Aboriginal flag again after she won the 200-metre race. She used the publicity to explain the symbolism of the Aboriginal flag: red for the earth, the ochre used in ceremonies, and Aboriginal people's spiritual relationship to the land; yellow for the sun, the giver and protector of all life; and black for the Aboriginal people of Australia.
Freeman lit the cauldron at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Also in 2000, she was awarded an Australian Sports Medal, recognising her achievements as World Champion in 1997 and 1999, Commonwealth Champion in 1994, and winner of the Victorian Institute of Sport Award of Excellence in 1997. Freeman was named World Sportswoman of the Year in 2001. On 15 July 2003, she announced her retirement from competitive running. Her last official sporting engagement was in 2006, when she was one of the final runners in the Queen's Baton Relay, bringing the baton into the Melbourne Cricket Ground at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Victoria.
Since retiring, Freeman has dedicated her time to the Cathy Freeman Foundation and the numerous other charities of which she is a patron.
Cathy was inducted into Sport Australia Hall of Fame in October 2011.
Marcia Langton is a respected authority on social issues in Aboriginal affairs and Associate Provost of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne. She has published on Indigenous issues such as gender and identity, land rights, resource management and substance abuse. She has worked internationally on Indigenous rights, conservation and environmental polices. Langton also critiques art and films and has played leading roles in films including Jardiwampa: A Warlpiri Fire, Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy and Blood Brothers.
First enrolled at The University of Queensland, she left to travel and work in countries including Japan and North America, before completing a degree in anthropology at the Australian National University in the 1980s. She then worked with a range of organisations across a spectrum of Indigenous socio-cultural issues, including the Australian Film Commission (for which she wrote 'Well I Heard It on the Radio and I Saw It on the Television'), the Central Land Council (where she was a land claims anthrolopogist), and the Northern Territory Aboriginal Issues Unit (for which she worked on the 1989 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody).
Moving into full-time university work, she was Ranger Professor of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies at Charles Darwin University (then Northern Territory University) for five years from 1995. In 2000, she was appointed Foundation Chair (a professorial post) of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne. In 2016, she became Distinguished Professor, and in 2017, Associate Provost. Her PhD in geography was awarded by Macquarie University in 2005.
Langton's Order of Australia was awarded in 1993 ('for services as an anthropologist and advocate of Aboriginal issues'). In 2001, she was elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. She co-won the inaugural Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Teacher of the Year, in 2002 (with Larissa Behrendt). In 2012, she became a patron of the Indigenous Reading Project. Since its inception in 2016, she has served on the judging panel for the Horne Prize in essay writing. Other organisations with which she has served include the Centre for Aboriginal Reconciliation, the Centre for Indigenous Natural and Cultural Resource Management, the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council, and the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership. She is also a fellow of both Trinity College, University of Melbourne (from 2012) and Emmanuel College, University of Queensland (since 2016).
Internationally, she has been concerned with First Nations rights in Canada (including conservation and environmental policies) and with issues in East Timor.
In addition to works indexed on AustLit, Langton has also published the following works:
Deborah Mailman grew up in Mount Isa. She spent many of her childhood years around the rodeo because her father was a rodeo champion.
Mailman gained interest in acting during high school when she chose to study Drama to avoid doing Business Principles. She found that acting allowed her to express her creative side. When the school started the production of Wizard of Oz, Mailman auditioned for the Wicked Witch of the West but instead she was given the role of Dorothy.
From high school, Mailman travelled to Brisbane to study drama at the university. She found her first year of study difficult because she was constantly changing accommodation but she found support from friends and family, which helped her continue her studies. She graduated from Queensland University of Technology Academy of the Arts in 1992. Since graduating, she has worked in numerous theatre productions as an actor, co-director or co-writer. Mailman has also appeared on television as a presenter on ABC's Playschool and Message Stick, and as an actress in the series The Secret Life of Us. Her film credits include The Monkey's Mask, Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence, Radiance and Dear Claudia, The Third Note.
In 2012 Mailman won Female Actor of the Year at the Deadly Awards.
Deborah Cheetham has worked as a professional opera singer, director and producer of plays. In 1996, the Olympic Arts Festival commissioned Cheetham to write and perform a play, 'White Baptist Abba Fan' for the 1997 Festival of the Dreaming. Cheetham has performed in Australia and around the world. In 2000, Cheetam performed her commissioned piece: Dali Mana Gamarada, at the Sydney Olympics as a welcome to country during the Opening Ceremony.
In September 2011 the University of Melbourne, Faculty of the VCA and Music announced that Deborah Cheetham was appointed Head of the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts at the Faculty.
In 2014, Deborah was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), for "distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance".
Deborah was appointed the 2019 Kinnane Scholar in Residence at The University of Queensland, and composed Eumeralla, A War Requiem for Peace, to honour the United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages, 2019.
Beryl Carmichael (whose traditional name is Yungha-Dhu) was born and grew up at the Old Menindee Mission, New South Wales. She attended school there until the age of twelve. Most of her life was spent on stations in the top end of New South Wales until 1966, when she and her family moved to Menindee township. She became active in Aboriginal community affairs and education, and has held a number of public positions. These include founding member of the Western Aboriginal Legal Service and the Alma Bugdlie Pre-School in Broken Hill. She was actively involved in the State Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, and was also an Aboriginal language Support Officer advising the New South Wales Board of Studies.
In 2004 she was awarded the New South Wales Department of Education and Training's Meritorious Service to Public Education Award. She has also been awarded a Centenary of Federation Medal for devotion to cultural awareness and contribution to Australian society. A documentary about her life, called Aboriginal Culture in the Murray-Darling Basin : Aunty Beryl's story, was made in 1996.
Eva Johnson belongs to the Malak Malak people of the Northern Territory. She was taken fom her mother at the age of two and placed on a Methodist Mission on Croker Island where she remained until she was transferred to an orphanage in Adelaide at the age of ten.
She has been an enrolled nurse and also gained an Associate Diploma in Community Development from the South Australian Institute of Technology. She has studied for a degree in Aboriginal Studies at the University of Adelaide. She has been actively involved in Aboriginal Land Rights, Black women's issues, Black theatre, and the fight against racism. She is an Aboriginal writer who performs her own works, a drama teacher and an accomplished actress. She appeared in the last episode of the acclaimed television series Women of the Sun.
Johnson began to write in 1979, and her first poem became the title of the first play ever produced by Black Theatre in Adelaide, When I Die You'll All Stop Laughing. She directed the first Aboriginal Women's Art Festival in Adelaide (1984), and it was for this festival that she wrote her acclaimed play, Tjindarella. In 1985 she was writer and co-director of Onward to Glory, which looked at the effects of the Australian education system on women (Adelaide Women's Theatre), and was awarded the Aboriginal Artist of the Year Award. Johnson was writer/director of the First National Black Playwrights' Conference (Canberra, 1987), from which the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust was developed.
In 1990, Johnson was invited to the First International Women's Playwrights Conference in Buffalo, New York, and was writer in Residence at the Native American Community School in Minnesota. She has spoken at several universities in the United States. At the Fourth International Feminist Book Fair in Barcelona (1990) she received a standing ovation for her portrayal of Aboriginal life.
Johnson's play Heartbeat of the Earth had its premier performance at the 2nd World Indigenous Youth Conference, Darwin 1993. In the same year, she was awarded the Australia Council inaugural Red Ochre Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts culture.
Poet and essayist Alison Whittaker is a Gomeroi woman from Gunnedah and Tamworth, North-western New South Wales. She worked in media law and Aboriginal women's law and policy. In 2017-2018, she was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard Law School, where she was named the Dean’s Scholar in Race, Gender and Criminal Law. Alison was also the 2018 Indigenous Poet-in-Residence for the Queensland Poetry Festival.
Rhoda Roberts is a Bundjalung woman of the Wiyebal clan. Her totem is the lizard. Roberts' childhood was spent in Lismore and Sydney.
After leaving school she trained to be a Nurse's Aide and eventually graduated as a registered nurse in 1979. With her nursing qualifications, Roberts travelled overseas to work. When she returned, she became involved in acting, training for three years before getting a job with a theatre company.
Roberts has worked as the Current Affairs Presenter of Vox Populi (SBS-TV), Radio Announcer on various radio programs, Reporter for First in Line, Presenter for Qantas in-flight videos, Artistic Director for the Awakening Ceremony for the Festival of the Dreaming (1997), and Indigenous Cultural Advisor for the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000).
In 2012, Roberts was named Artistic Director of Indigenous progamming at the Sydney Opera House.
Marie Munkara is of Rembarranga and Tiwi descent and was born on the banks of the Mainoru River in central Arnhem Land. She went to Nguiu on the Tiwi Islands when she was about eighteen months old, was sent down south by Catholic missionaries when she was three years old, and went back to the Tiwi Islands when she was twenty eight. From 2009, she was living in Darwin.
Better known for her award-winning short stories, she has more recently published children's books Rusty Brown and Rusty and Jojo.
In 2016, she published Of Ashes and Rivers that Run to the Sea, the story of her search for her original family after being raised by a white Catholic family.
In 2018, she was completing a PhD at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory.
Amy McQuire is a Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman from Rockhampton. In 2009, McQuire moved from Queensland to Canberra to accept a position as Cadet Journalist with the National Indigenous Times. By taking up this position, she became the newspaper's first female editor and also their first Aboriginal editor. In 2020, she was undertaking a PhD at the University of Queensland.
Amy was once editor and senior writer of Tracker, a magazine published by the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council. She has previously worked at the National Indigenous Times, NITV, New Matilda, and BuzzFeed and has written for a variety of publications, including Meanjin, the Griffith Review, New York Times, and the Guardian Australia. She is also the co-host of the investigative podcast Curtain, which follows the case of an Aboriginal man wrongly accused of murder.
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.
Glenyse Ward was removed from her parents at the age of one by the Native Welfare Department and sent to St. John of Gods orphanage in Rivervale where she stayed a short time. She was later sent 80 miles south with two Catholic priests Father Leuman and Brother Lennard to St. Francis Xavier Native Mission in Wandering. Ward stayed there and like others was unable to attend school in Perth due to her poor grades.
After her schooling she was made to work at the mission doing domestic chores and at the age of 15 she was sent to work for an upper class white family. A year later, Ward left and went to Busselton where she was employed as a domestic in the Busselton Hospital kitchen.
While still a baby, Ruth's family moved to the Cherbourg Settlement. At the age of four, Ruth, along with her sister, was separated from the rest of the family and confined to dormitory accommodation until she was fourteen. After working for many years in domestic service, Hegarty married Joe Hegarty and raised a family of eight children.
Ruth Hegarty was a founding member of Koobara Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Resource Centre, president of the Brisbane respite centre Nalingu and has for many years been involved on a volunteer basis with projects for the young and the elderly. In 1998, she was awarded the Premier's Award for Queensland Seniors Year, for services to the community. In 1999, she served as the Queensland representative on the National Committee for the International year of Older Persons. In 2007, she was a member of the Queensland Stolen Wages Working Group for the Senate enquiry into stolen wages of Aboriginal workers.
Hegarty's story was recorded by the National Library of Australia for the Bringing Them Home oral history project and appeared in the associated publication Many Voices: Reflections on Experiences of Indigenous Child Separation edited by Doreen Mellor and Anna Haebich (2002).
Her two autobiographies appeared in 1999 and 2003. After a hiatus, she returned to publishing in 2015 with a series of children's books published by Scholastic Australia.
Margaret Tucker, also known as Lilardia of the Ulupna tribe, was an actor, singer, activist, and author. Born in 1904 at the Warangesda Mission on the Murrumbidgee River, she was a member of the Stolen Generations, taken from her mother Theresa Clements when she was 13 and sent to Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Girls. Her father's name was William Clements, a Wiradjuri man, and her mother Teresa (Yarmuk) Clements, née Middleton, was Yulupna.
Lilardia joined in the Day of Mourning in 1938 as a protest against conditions for Aboriginal people. Lilardia campaigned for Aboriginal rights alongside legendary Aboriginal activists such as William Cooper, Bill and Eric Onus, and Doug Nicholls.
In the months before World War II, she sang to raise money for food for the Indigenous Australians who had walked out of Cummeragunja settlement in protest. She worked in the same munitions factory as Alice Lovett and others. She also sang for the Red Cross and for men at the Heidleberg Repatriation Hospital.
Lilardia was awarded an MBE and served for 11 years on Victoria's Aboriginal Welfare Board, the first Indigenous woman to serve on the board.
(Source: 'Actor Redefined Aboriginal Role')
Rosemary van den Berg was born at Moore River Native Settlement. Her parents moved to Pinjarra when she was five years old, where they bought a five acre block of land. Van den Berg grew up with five sisters and four brothers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (English) and a Ph.D. from Curtin University.
Van den Berg has worked for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Perth, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and the Australian Public Service in the area of Aboriginal Affairs. She has also been a writer and an editor, as well as an historian, a grandmother and an Aboriginal Elder.
Van den Berg is the fourth daughter of Thomas Corbett who was the subject of her book, No Options, No Choice! : The Moore River Experience : My Father, Thomas Corbett, an Aboriginal Half-Caste (1994).
Born in Ndulkana, Lowitja O'Donoghue is a member of the Stolen Generations and was taken away from her mother at the age of two. O'Donoghue and her two sisters were taken to Colebrook Children's Home in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. At sixteen, she left the Home and began working as a domestic servant. Unhappy with domestic service after two years, O'Donoghue began a nursing traineeship. The money she had accumulated in her trust fund while working as a domestic servant was going to be used for purchasing her uniforms but she was denied access.
O'Donoghue experienced discrimination in many forms during her training to be a nurse and joined the Aborigines Advancement League to lobby for change and eventually gained entry to begin training as a nurse at Royal Adelaide Hospital. Where, despite the racial discrimination at the time, she reached the position of Charge sister.'
On numerous occasions the Protector of Aborigines contacted her, offering her exemption from being classified as an Aborigine which she declined. In 1960, O'Donoghue decided to travel and left for India with the Baptist Overseas Mission where she worked with the Mother Theresa program, it was also there that her ambition to be reunited with her mother was realised. In 1962, she returned to Australia and was eventually reunited with her mother, and worked as a trained nurse and welfare officer in remote Aboriginal communities. It was during her 10 years in this work that she built a reputation for her ability to advocate for Indigenous justice.
'From 1975 to 1979, she held the senior position of regional Director of the office for South Australia - the first woman to be a regional director of a federal department - and was responsible for the local implementation of national Aboriginal welfare policy.' (The Encyclopedia of Women & Leadership, 2014)
During the 1990s she became involved in several organisations working toward the advancement of Aboriginal rights, and chaired the Aboriginal Hostels Limited, the Aboriginal Development Commission and the National Aboriginal Congress.
In 2000, Lowitja played a key advisory role as chairperson of the Sydney Olympic Games National Indigenous Advisory Committee and carried the Olympic torch through Uluru during the Australian leg of the Olympic Torch Relay. In 2008, Lowitja provided counsel to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd regarding the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. She was chosen as one of 150 great South Australians by a panel of The Advertiser senior writers to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of The Advertiser newspaper, 12 April 2008.
During her career she had received many awards in recognition of her dedication and as an advocate of reconciliation and Aboriginal rights. In 2009, O'Donoghue received the NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award, and "was declared an Australian National Living Treasure in 1998. ...In 1977 was the first Aboriginal woman to be award the AO, and received a CBE, an AC and honorary doctorates from universities around Australia". (Standish, 2014)
O'Donoghue, AC, AM, had worked toward improving the welfare of Aboriginal people throughout her life. For 30 years, she worked as a registered nurse and for 6 years as the chairperson of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).(Source : http://www.naidoc.org.au/ (Sighted 14 July 2009); Standish, Anne, 2014 O'Donoghue, Lowitja (Lois) (1932 - ). In The Encyclopedia of Women & Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia. Available http://www.womenaustralia.info/leaders/biogs/WLE0354b.htm (Sighted 24-25 May 2016)
Writer and poet, Lyndy Delian traces her heritage through her father, mother and grandmother to Black's Town, Dunolly, Western Victoria. She 'sees herself as a product of the cultural genocide that occurred in Australia under colonisation'. Delian's search for family follows the oral tracks left to her in stories from childhood. Her work spans music, singing, songwriting, visual art and writing. Delian's artworks have won major awards and some are held in the collections of the National Museum of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian National Botanic Gardens, the Canberra Institute of Technology, Canberra Institute of the Arts, Winnunga Nimmityjah, Aboriginal Health Service, Redfern AHS and in numerous private and public collections. Delian has also illustration in two books : Writing Us Mob, 2000 and Talking Ink from Ochre 2002. Delian was also a founding member of ITAG, the ACT Indigenous Textile And Glass artists group and won the Northern Territory Fashion Awards 2003 in the Category of Textiles, 3m printed fabric. Source : Talking Ink from Ochre (2002); per.comm. Kerry Reed-Gilbert, 2016)
Mary Duroux was educated in Bega and left school at the age of fourteen to work in a factory in Sydney. For many years she worked picking beans and peas, as a domestic and in factories. In 1963 she moved to Kempsey, married and became involved in Aboriginal issues. In 1977 she was appointed to the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council. In 1989 Mary moved back to Moruya.
McGee-Sippel poet and best-selling author is of Aboriginal Wemba Wemba, Aboriginal Yorta Yorta and Anglo Celtic background . She was separated from her Aboriginal mother shortly after birth and was adopted at six weeks of age by a non-Indigenous family. Her writing is in response to the pain she felt from not knowing her family and true cultural identity. She met her biological mother and family for the first time in 1981.
A registered nurse and midwife McGee-Sippel was caring for relinquishing mothers and those with sick, premature and stillborn babies at St Margaret's Women's Hospital, Darlinghurst, Sydney, while searching for her own mother. Following the untimely death of a much loved younger sister, in 1991, and a series of close family deaths, her words began pouring out, in the form of poetry.
Needing a career change and wanting to learn more about her cultural roots, Lorraine decided to do an Associate Diploma in Adult Education (Koori Education) 1992/3 at the University of Technology (UTS), Sydney. In 1994, she began a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, majoring in Aboriginal Studies and Writing, but the need to write her own story was strong, so in 1995 she left the University of Technology and began writing her autobiography, as well as becoming involved with Aboriginal Reconciliation, human rights and social justice issues.
McGree-Sippel was co-founder of Lane Cove Residents for Reconciliation, She has read her work at the State Library of New South Wales, the New South Wales Writers' Centre, Reconciliation meetings and various community gatherings, as well as on Koori Radio, (93.7 FM), and AWAYE (Radio National). In 2001, her manuscript/autobiography, 'The Best Part' was shorlisted for The Varuna Awards For Manuscript Development.
McGee-Sippel's story was recorded by the National Library of Australia for the Bringing Them Home Oral History Project and appeared in the associated publication Many Voices: Reflections on Experiences of Indigenous Child Separation, edited by Doreen Mellor and Anna Haebich (2002).
Claire G. Coleman is a Noongar woman whose family have belonged to the south coast of Western Australia since long before history started being recorded. She writes fiction, essays and poetry while (mostly) traveling around the continent now called Australia in a ragged caravan towed by an ancient troopy (the car has earned 'vintage' status). Born in Perth, away from her ancestral country she has lived most of her life in Victoria and most of that in and around Melbourne.
During an extended circuit of the continent she wrote a novel, influenced by certain experiences gained on the road. She has since won a Black&Write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship for that novel, Terra Nullius, which was published in 2017.
In May 2020, it was announced that Coleman was one of the participants in Malthouse Theatre's Malcolm Robertson Writers Program, writing a play called Black Betty at the End of the World.
Sources include http://www.clairegcoleman.com/about.html, Book + Publishing.
Aunty Maureen Watson
'Tireless educator and campaigner for the rights of her people, gifted and passionate performer on stage and film, poet, author and playwright, children’s author, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and recognised Murri elder in South-East Queensland.
'Born in Rockhampton in central Queensland on the 9th November, 1931 of Birri Gubba descent, Maureen was brought up in the Dawson Valley, her mother’s Kungulu country.
'She was a dux of her school, an all-round sports person and brilliant horse-rider, but her scholarship year came to an abrupt end with a bad horse fall. So as a teenager she worked beside her father, becoming skilled at shooting kangaroos, trapping dingoes, mustering, droving and branding cattle, picking cotton, planting seed crops, driving tractors and bulldozers.
'At 21 she married Harold Bayles, a Wakka Wakka man from Eidsvold and in 1970 Maureen with their family of five children moved to Brisbane. She joined the fledgling Aboriginal rights movement and commenced an arts degree at the University of Queensland.
'Her experiences of growing up in a home where her family and visitors talked of politics, culture, spirituality and social issues, and her own inate story-telling ability prepared her well for the rest of her life. She was popular and highly-respected by non-indigenous as well as Aboriginal Australians, and showed her strong sense of justice by confronting bullies, discrimination and injustice where ever she saw it.
'Maureen was a founding member of Indigenous organisations that include Radio Redfern and the Aboriginal People’s Gallery. She attended the first National Aboriginal Theatre Workshop in Sydney and a Black Film-makers course. Her first collection of stories and poems, Black Reflections was published in 1982 – she went on to produce six more poetry anthologies, one children’s book and one picture book. She has performed and taught in many venues, from major festivals to local schools and arts organisations.
'She was at the forefront of Aboriginal protests against the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982, facing arrest during demonstrations. In 1996 she was awarded the Australia Council Red Ochre award in recognition of her national and international contribution towards recognition of Aboriginal arts. Also she received the inaugural United Nations Association Global Leadership Prize for her outstanding work towards building cross-cultural understanding and harmony.
'Maureen also worked with ‘Sisters Inside’, a support group for women in prison. She was a qualified and experienced Neuro-Linguistic Programming councillor.
'Her son, Tiga Bayles spoke at the very moving ceremony to celebrate the life of Maureen Frances Watson. His words of her intense spiritual connection to the Land were a fitting tribute to this feisty, wise, beautiful, intelligent, creative and strong Black woman.
'..’she taught us to look past the racism, injustice, lies and greed. She taught us to look past those things – to look for the goodness inherent in every person. The goodness we all share when we dream of clean air and water, as the essential birthright of every child, regardless of race, colour, creed or country … how all of us, individually, collectively and globally – can empower ourselves to become honourable ancestors to our future generations by bequeathing them a healthy Mother Earth.‘ 12 January 2009, Murri School, Acacia Ridge, Brisbane.'
(source - Workers BushTelegraph)