Workshop Presenters

Presenters are listed in alphabetical last-name.


Cathy Craigie

Cathy Craigie is a Gamilaroi and Anaiwon woman from Northern NSW. She grew up in a large extended family from Moree and across the Northern Tablelands. She has worked in Aboriginal Affairs for over thirty years and is passionate about Aboriginal capacity and community development utilising the arts (particularly literature) and she tries to combine the two together in much of her work. She has worked with Writing NSW over the last twenty years, first as a member and then co-ordinating First Nations’ writers festivals, mentoring projects and other events. From one of these events, a national gathering of First Nations writers, the seed for the establishment of the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network (FNAWN) was conceived. Cathy became the first Executive Director of FNAWN in 2012. Cathy is currently working on several literature projects and continues to use stories as a tool for First Nations capacity building.

     Jim Everett

Jim Everett – puralia meenamatta was born at Flinders Island, Tasmania in 1942.  He is from the clan plangermairreenner of the Ben Lomond people, a clan of the Cape Portland nation in North-east Tasmania.  Jim left primary school at 14 years to start work.  His working life includes 15 years at sea as a fisherman and merchant seaman, Australian Regular Army for 3 years, and over 50years formal involvement in the Aboriginal Struggle.  He has a long history in the public service in Aboriginal Affairs, and has traveled Australia visiting many remote Aboriginal communities.  Jim began writing poetry at an early age.  He wrote his first play, We Are Survivors, in 1984, produced and directed, and acted in it.  His written works now include plays, political and academic papers and short stories. Jim has produced and been associate producer in many documentary films.  He is published in many major anthologies. Jim lives on Cape Barren Island writing and maintaining involvement in cultural arts nationally.

    Samantha Faulkner

Samantha Faulkner is a Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal woman from the Wuthuthi/Yadhaigana peoples, Cape York Peninsula and Badu and Moa Islands, Torres Strait.  She is the author of Life Blong Ali Drummond: A Life in the Torres Strait, published in 2007 by Aboriginal Studies Press.  She has performed at a number of festivals including Noted (2015-2017) and the AIATSIS Conference (2014 & 2016).  She has poetry and prose published: locally (2013 – By Close of Business, Us Mob Writing Group, Canberra, 2016 – A Pocketful of Leadership in the ACT); nationally (2010 – Etchings Indigenous: Treaty, Ilura Press, 2018 – BlackWords: Growing Up Indigenous in Australia and Too Deadly: Our Voice, Our Way, Our Business); and internationally (2014 – Ora Nui: A Collection of Maori and Aboriginal Literature, 2016 – Narrative WitnessInternational Writing Program, University of Iowa). She has represented women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests on local, state and national boards.  She is a member of the ACT based Us Mob Writing Group and a Director of the First Nations Australia Writers Network.  She is the current Chairperson, ACT Torres Strait Islanders Corporation.

    Euroka Gilbert

I am a Wiradjuri Man, my people come from the lands around the Kalara (Lachlan) River, in central New South Wales. My family were courageous people who survived extreme oppression and trauma. They were itinerant workers who were mostly based at the Murie, a fringe dwellers camp outside of Condobolin. That base provided them with a small degree of freedom to travel the dreaming tracks and head out to the paddocks around NSW as farmhands and fruit pickers. My own story starts with I was raised in the Land Rights struggle; as a kid I travelled around New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory with my parents, visiting communities, protesting oppression, talking Treaty and Land Rights, learning within the cultural education systems across many Nations and through correspondence (long distance mail) until the end of primary school. These days however, I am a proud father of 4, who works in cultural heritage management and still campaigns for justice.

    Charmaine Papertalk Green

Charmaine Green is from the Wajarri, Badimaya and Southern Yamaji peoples of Western Australia. She has lived and worked in rural Western Australia (Midwest-Pilbara ) most of her life in numerous roles in the Aboriginal sector industry as an artist/poet, community development practitioner and social sciences researcher.  Charmaine writes under the name Charmaine Papertalk Green and publications include her book of poetry, Just Like That (2007), a children’s verse novel Tiptoeing Tod the Tracker (2014) and a poetry collaboration with fellow WA poet John Kinsella “False Claim of Colonial Thieves(2018) through Magabala Books.  Charmaine has poetry included in numerous anthologies and publications including Artlink Magazine (2018), The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry (2017), Kenyon Review (2017), Ora Nui: A Collection of Maori and Aboriginal Literature (2014), Antipodes: Poetic Responses (2011), Those who remain will always be remembered : An Anthology of Aboriginal writing (2000) ,  Inside Black Australia : an Anthology of Aboriginal Poetry (1988), The Penguin Book of Australia Women Poets(1986) . Charmaine lives in Geraldton, Western Australia.

    Phillip Hall

Phillip worked for many years as a teacher of outdoor education and sport throughout regional New South Wales, Northern Queensland and the Northern Territory. He now resides in Melbourne’s Sunshine where he is a passionate member of the Western Bulldogs Football Club. Phillip’s poetry, essays and reviews can be seen in such spaces as Best Australian Poems, Cordite Poetry Review, Meniscus, Plumwood Mountain and Verity La while his publications include Sweetened in Coals (Ginninderra Press), Borroloola Class (IPSI), Fume (UWAP) and (as editor) Diwurruwurru: Poetry from the Gulf of Carpentaria (Blank Rune Press).

    Natalie Harkin

Dr Natalie Harkin is a Narungga woman and activist-poet from South Australia. She is a Research Fellow at Flinders University with an interest in decolonising state archives, currently engaging archival-poetic methods to research and document Aboriginal women’s domestic service and labour histories in SA.  Her words have been installed and projected in exhibitions comprising text-object-video projection, including collaboration with the Unbound Collective. She has conducted poetry workshops and presented panels, readings and keynotes at many events including the Ottawa International Writers Festival, the Active Aesthetics Conference on Contemporary Australian Poetry and Poetics, UC Berkeley, the Queensland Poetry Festival, Mildura Writers Festival, Melbourne Emerging Writers Festival, Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Blak & Bright Victorian Indigenous Literary Festival, and writing residencies with RMIT University and Sydney University. Her work is included in State secondary school and University curriculum in many States, and she has published in literary journals includingOverland, Westerly, Southerly, Wasafiri International Contemporary Writing, TEXT and Cordite.  Her first poetry manuscript, Dirty Words, was published by Cordite Books in 2015.

    Jane Harrison

Jane Harrison is descended from the Muruwari people and is an award-winning playwright and author. Her play The Visitors was part of the MTC’s 2014 Cybec Electric series. Rainbow’s End is currently on the NSW English curriculum and won the 2012 Drover Award. Her first play Stolen has played across Australia and internationally, and is touring again in 2018. Her novel Becoming Kirrali Lewis won the 2014 Black & Write! Prize, and was shortlisted for the Prime Minster’s Literary Awards and the Victorian Premier’s Awards.  She has an MA in Playwriting from QUT (2010). Jane believes strongly in the power of stories in strengthening cultural connection.

    Yvette Holt

National multi-award winning poet, academic, comedienne, feminist – Yvette Henry Holt heralds from the Yiman, Wakaman and Bidjara Nations’ of Queensland. A Human Rights Award Recipient (University of Technology, Sydney), in 2005 Yvette was awarded the Queensland Premier’s Literary David Unaipon Award for an untitled manuscript, her first publication titled anonymous premonition (UQP 2008), canvases an echoing universal collection of poetry and stories ceded amongst memories and dreams celebrating childhood, social justice, feminism, motherhood, womanhood, loss and love. Selected poems from anonymous premonition have since been published and translated into Mapuche Chile, Mandarin Chinese and French. anonymous premonition then went on to claim the Scanlon Prize for Poetry NSW (2008), Victorian Premier’s Literary for Indigenous Writing (2008), and the Kate Challis RAKA Award (2010). Yvette now lives and works in the Australian Central Deserts, promoting financial literacy and community education across 500,000,000 square kilometers. Yvette is currently completing the collection of her next titled manuscript of poetry and prose and enjoying the discovery of what lays beneath the lyrical desert skin.

    Jackie Huggins 

Dr Jackie Huggins  AM  FAHA is Bidjara and Birri Gubba Juru from Queensland. Jackie is the Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. She was the National Co-ordinator for the Aboriginal Women’s Unit in DAA in 1984 and on the Steering Committee for the Aboriginal Women’s Task Force which produced the Women’s Business report. She was the Co-Commissioner for the Inquiry Into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.  She was the first Indigenous woman to Chair the Qld Ministerial Council for Domestic Violence and on the Indigenous Reference Group for 14 years, Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research, Central Qld Uni, Mackay. In honour of this work she was granted an

Honorary doctorate from CQU in December 2017. She has written widely on women’s issues, feminism and history.

    Dub Leffler

Descended from the Bigambul people of South-West QLD,Dub Leffler is one of Australia’s most sought after illustrators of children’s literature. His award winning, best seller ‘Once There Was a Boy’ -which he both wrote & illustrated, has attracted worldwide critical acclaim -now, in permanent collection at The Library of Congress in Washington Dc,USA and has featured several times at The Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy. He has written two books for children and is currently illustrating his 23nd title – called ‘Rocky & Louie’- co-penned by the lovely Raewyn Caisley & Phil-Walley Stack- it will be published by Penguin Random House come 2019. Having travelled extensively both here and abroad, Dub has taught Illustration workshops everywhere from the Tiwi Islands to Scotland & the U.S. He has collaborated with the likes of Shaun Tan, Sally Morgan and Banksy. Dub’s latest illustrated book, ‘Sorry Day’, written by the wonderful Coral Vass & published by the fantastic, National Library of Australia, is out now in all good bookstores.

    Melissa Lucashenko

Melissa Lucashenko is a multi-award winning Goorie writer. Her most recent novel, Mullumbimby, was awarded the Deloitte Queensland Literary Award for Fiction, won the Victorian Premiers Prize for Indigenous Writing, and was longlisted for both the Stella and Miles Franklin awards as well as the Dublin IMPAC Literary Prize 2015. Melissa was awarded the 2016 CAL Fellowship to work on her new (2018) novel, Too Much Lip. Melissa is a Walkley Award winner for her non-fiction, as well as a founding member of the prisoner’s human rights group, Sisters Inside. She writes passionately about ordinary people and the extraordinary lives they lead.

    Luke Pearson

Luke Pearson is a Gamilaroi man and the founder and director of IndigenousX, an Indigenous owned and run media platform and consultancy company. Luke began IndigenousX 6 years ago to help counter both the general lack of representation in Australian media and the regular misrepresentation of Indigenous people and stories.

It began as a rotating Twitter account, with one Indigenous person taking control of the account every week to tell their own stories in their own words. 6 years and some 300 hosts later, the rotating account still continues, and has inspired countless other rotating twitter accounts, most notably our sister account in Canada, @indigenousXca. We now have a partnership with the Guardian Australia which invites each host to write an article for them, a partnership with crowdfunding platform StartSomeGood that has helped dozens of Indigenous campaigns raise a combined total of over $400,000, and our own independently run website where we publish regular articles from a range of Indigenous writers, academics, activists, CEOs, and individuals.

    Rachel Bin Salleh 

Rachel Bin Salleh is the publisher at Magabala Books.   She has worked in the industry for over twenty-five years, including editorial, marketing, sales and also as a bookseller.  She is a Nimunburr and Yawuru woman, and has formerly have been on the board of directors of Magabala Books.  Rachel is on the Children’s Publishing committee of the APA and on the board of the Small Press Network. Rachel’s debut children’s picture book, Alfred’s War, illustrated by Samantha Fry, was published in April 2018.

     Kim Scott

Kim Scott is a proud Noongar man whose most recent novel is Taboo (Picador, 2017).  Kim is founder and chair of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Story Project , which is responsible for a number of bilingual (Noongar and English) picture books and regional performances of story and song. He has twice won the Miles Franklin Award – for Benang (1999) and That Deadman Dance (2010) – and received a number of other literary prizes.  His most recent novel Taboo is shortlisted for the 2018 Miles Franklin Award and winner of the 2018 NSW Premiers Literary Awards Book of the Year. Kim is currently Professor of Writing in the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University.

     Mark Stapleton

Arts and program service deliverer. Works for Indigenous cultural leaders & artists in community, industry & government. Mark leads the Arcadia Syndicate, which provides strategic design and management of Indigenous arts services and programs. As an ally, partner, collaborator, facilitator the Arcadia Syndicate’s primary proposition is success by working cross culturally in project management and administration, consultation, policy development and research. “Social justice and prosperity drives us. We respect the sovereignty and elders of the lands on which we work.”

    Ellen van Neerven

Ellen van Neerven is a writer of Mununjali Yugambeh and Dutch heritage. Her first book, Heat and Light (UQP, 2014), was the recipient of the David Unaipon Award, the Dobbie Literary Award and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Indigenous Writers Prize. Heat and Light was also shortlisted for The Stella Prize, the Queensland Literary Award for State Significance, and the Readings Prize. Ellen was named as a Sydney Morning Herald‘s Best Young Australian Novelist in 2015. Ellen’s second book, a collection of poetry, Comfort Food (UQP, 2016) was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize and Highly Commended for the 2016 Wesley Michel Wright Prize. Until 2016 Ellen was the Managing Editor of black&write! Indigenous Writing and Editing Project at State Library of Queensland. She received the 2017 Queensland Writers Centre Johnno Award and the 2015 Express Media Award for Outstanding Contribution by a Young Person in Literary Arts. She currently lives and works in Melbourne.

     Jared Thomas

Dr. Jared Thomas is a Nukunu person of the Southern Flinders Ranges and the William and Margaret Geary Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and Material Culture at the South Australian Museum. A former lecturer of the University of South Australia, Jared is an acclaimed writer. In 2015 his novel Calypso Summer joined the 2015 International Youth Library White Raven list, given to books that deserve worldwide attention because of their universal themes and exceptional artistic and literary style. His recent releases include Songs That Sound Like Blood and the Game Day series written with NBA player Patty Mills. Jared is an Ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the South Australian Premier’s Reading Challenge.

    Leesa Watego

Leesa Watego is a Brisbane-based Murri educator and owner of Iscariot Media, an Indigenous creative agency. Leesa created Deadly Bloggers – the first and only directory of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bloggers, and is interested in advocating for the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples online. Leesa was a Queensland Government Digital Champion in 2016 and delivers training in social media and digital technology to community and small business.

     Alexis Wright

Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria.  She is renowned as the author of the prize-winning novels Carpentaria and The Swan Book, and the collective memoir Tracker.  She has published two previous works of non-fiction, Take Power, an oral history of the Central Land Council, and Grog War, a study of alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory.  Her books have been published widely overseas, including China, India, the US, the UK, Italy, France and Poland.  She is the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature in the University of Melbourne’s Australia Centre and the winner of the 2018 Stella Prize for her remarkable collective biography, Tracker.


Us Mob Writing (UMW) group is made up of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander poets, writers and storytellers based in Canberra and surrounding areas.  Our members past and present have written poetry, plays, songs, documentary films, short films, TV dramas, children’s story books, novels, short stories, biographies and autobiographies. UMW group has included major national and international literary award winners, a national literary awards judge, and multiple nationally and internationally published, performed and produced writers, including winners of the David Unaipon award. Members works have been published in many journals and anthologies nationally and internationally, including the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature. Their work has been translated in into many non-English speaking languages. They have previously published By Close of Business in 2013.  In 2017 they launched Too Deadly: Our Voice, Our Way, Our Business which was developed with funding from the Australia Council for the Arts.