Dr Tony Birch, the Miles Franklin nominated writer, delivered the keynote 2014 Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) ACT David Hunter Memorial Lecture in Canberra on Thursday 20 November. The theme was Reconciliation and Identity and Tony spoke of his writing and research into the life of Bessie Rawlings, the mother of William Reginald Rawlings, who was awarded the Military Medal for bravery during World War I. Bessie wrote a number of letters to relevant Ministers for 40 years on her and her family and communities rights, but she was not unique in this regard. Tony said,
“Aboriginal women are the face of the struggle. We need to speak their names and lift them up. These women are heroes.”
Tony’s keynote was followed by local poets Michelle Bedford, Joyce Graham and Samantha Faulkner members of Us Mob Writing, who read poems from By Close of Business, a collection of poetry and prose. It was a great turn out supported by the Canberra community and followed by some interesting discussions on a lovely spring evening.