What’s On

Anita Heiss and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

| 04 Feb 2015


Last month, Dr Anita Heiss with ARIA award-winning performer, composer and didgeridoo player William Barton joined the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to perform Peter Sculthorpe’s Beethoven Variations and Barton’s Birdsong at Dusk. These performances were highlighted with poetry and prose readings by Anita.

Anita performed Shake by Romaine Moreton, Unity by the late Kevin Gilbert, Sydney Real Estate for Sale by Brenda Saunders, and A New Day Dawning by Richard Frankland.

Anita says

I felt very blessed by the experience and was honoured to share the stage with Uncle Max Eulo, William Barton, Mayrah Sonter and conductor Johannes Fritzsch.

Yellamundie: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Playwriting Festival 2015.

| 10 Jan 2015


Every time a story by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is told, the story itself and the act of telling that story is a very real confirmation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that our culture is alive and strong and continuing to survive.

Moogahlin Perfoming Arts with presenting partner Carriageworks, is delighted to announce the launch of Yellamundie: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Playwriting Festival 2015.

Yellamundie [a Dharug word meaning storyteller] is a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture and is an initiative of the National Indigenous Theatre Forum held in Cairns, Queensland in 2010.

The central aim of the Yellamundie Festival is to discover, develop and promote new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander playwriting that displays potential for further creative development and/or production. Yellamundie provides both emerging and established playwrights with a meeting place to have their work developed within a supportive and nurturing artistic and cultural context, showcasing their skill and talent and gaining access and connection to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal theatre industry networks.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander playwrights from across Australia, will have the opportunity to submit new work, with a final six scripts chosen for creative development, with a director, dramaturge and actors.

Each script will also receive a public reading to an audience of community, general public and invited industry.

Yellamundie 2015 will run from Monday 27th July to Saturday 8th August 2015.

Applications open on Wednesday 3rd December and application and guidelines forms will be available to download from the Moogahlin website (www.mooghalin.com).

Applications close on Wednesday 4th February 2015 and successful applicants will be notified by Friday 6th March 2015.

For further information please contact festival artistic director Frederick Copperwaite at either yellamundie@moogahlin.com or 0422 049 333.

Click to download the following documents:

Tony Birch delivers the David Hunter Memorial Lecture 2014

| 04 Dec 2014
Tony Birch. Photo Credit: Joseph Lafferty

Tony Birch. Photo Credit: Joseph Lafferty

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.

Joyce Graham, Samantha Faulkner, Michelle Bedford Photo Credit: Joseph Lafferty

Joyce Graham, Samantha Faulkner, Michelle Bedford Photo Credit: Joseph Lafferty

Anita Heiss features Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature at Corroboree 2014

| 04 Dec 2014


There are few more passionate about showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence than author Dr Anita Heiss.

Last week I was lucky enough to be in Sydney and headed down the Rocks Boatshed at Circular Quay to see Anita yarn with Torres Strait Islander author Sam Faulker. One of a series of yarns that week with ‘celebrities’, this session gave Sam an opportunity to talk about some of the issues involved in creating memoir and biography with family members. She noted importantly, that it’s possible to argue the book had many authors, and is a story that belongs not just to her or the subject, her Grandfather, but to who whole family.

Other sessions during that week included yarns with Dub Leffler, Larisssa Behrendt, Michael O’Loughlin, Terri Janke, and Wesley Enoch.

Ever the energetic blogger, Anita has written up her questions with a few of her guests. Read more here:

Echoes …. of Knowing Home by Alexis West

| 07 Jul 2014


FNAWN would like to congratulate member Alexis West on the successful June run of her play Echoes …. of Knowing Home at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute.
Continue reading

From London to Canberra: An Us Mob Writing Workshop with Bruce Pascoe

| 07 Jul 2014

Members of the Us Mob Writing Group with Bruce Pascoe

A message from Bruce.

An amazingly diverse group of First Nations writers assembled for a writing workshop at AIATSIS, Canberra for three days in June.

The writers had a diversity of experience which was matched by their interests which ranged across: the musical history of Aboriginal protest songs, poetry, children’s fiction, speculative fiction, women’s studies, autobiography, drama and history.

Participants took part in workshopped writing, editing and book length plots and characterisation.

The writing standard of those involved was of a very high standard and I hope that all women will launch into their major projects as outlined at the workshop. The time has to come when the planning stops and the production begins.

A traveller’s report by Bruce Pascoe

| 07 Jul 2014



In June, First Nations Australia and New Zealand opened the ANZ Festival in London with cultural productions prior to the first feature of Tim Winton’s interview. The participants, Ali Cobby Eckerman, Anita Heiss, and Bruce Pascoe took part in over 16 events and the reception to our writing was very enthusiastic. Book sales were encouraging and the range of our events ranged from discussions of feminist literature, black/white history, poetry, novels, teenage fiction and fantasy.

While Anita took part in the Great Debate, Ali and Bruce visited the gravetsone of Yammerayanyea at Eltham with the young Murri bass player, Andrew Story, who performed with Ruthless Jabiru in a tribute to oodgeroo Noonuccal in The Chapel.

They also participated in a session where an English author was presenting his novel based on the Aboriginal cricket team which visited London in the early 1800s. They asked him why he had not contacted the descendants of those men as part of his research. His answer was that the time difference between Australia and England prevent him!

Barbara’s World by Edoardo Crismani

| 07 Jul 2014

Barbara Still in promo-resized

This week will see the broadcast nationwide of NITV, of Barbara’s World. Teni Burns, says about the film,

A finalist in the prestigious SASA Awards, and featured in the recent Women with Heart screenings, Barbara’s World is a fascinating insight to a world that is both challenging and victorious. The Barbara of the title is mother to to filmmaker Edoardo Crismani and it is she, who under his tender direction gives an eloquent and vivid account of her history. And what a history it is! Descended from South Australia’s 1926 Indigenous boxing champion, ‘The Panther’, Barbara brings us into a world that is relatively unknown but is endlessly engrossing. Startling in her composure, touching in her loving recollections of struggles and joys past, this beautiful woman graciously allows us to see life through her eyes. Extremely candid and confronting at times, Crismani never ventures into cloying sentimentality as he gently allows the narrative to unfold. The use of archival photography enhances the story and the impressive original music accompanies it without intruding. Heartrending and heart-warming, this lovely and relevant film presents a Woman of Heart. Five stars.

The film is also being screen at the South Australia State Library and other sites as part of their NAIDOC celebrations.


Filmmaker, Edoardo Crismani

FNAWN attends Ora Nui launch (2014)

| 07 Jul 2014

Ora Nui 1

It was “Kia Ora” to Aotearoa over the March long weekend.  We both travelled to Wellington, New Zealand representing the First Nations Australian Writers Network (FNAWN), at the Ora Nui Special Edition launch, during Writers Week of the New Zealand Festival.

The second edition of New Zealand’s Maori literary journal Ora Nui was collaboration between Ora Nui and the FNAWN.  The journal showcased a range of poetry, prose and short fiction from the Indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia.  The Co-editors were Anton Blank, Ora Nui and Kerry Reed-Gilbert, Chairperson FNAWN.


Ora Nui 2

We both met up with Tony Birch from Melbourne and some of the Maori writers also included in the journal: Cath Dunsford, Kani Te Manukura, and Anton Blank.

The launch was held on Saturday 8 March with about 40 people attending the session which was good, given the 10.45am start.  A few nerves appeared beforehand which turned into excitement.  It was great to be on stage and hear readings from the best seats in the house – on stage!  We read some of our work and launched the special edition.  The audience and festival organisers were moved by the readings and enjoyed this along with the Question and Answer session that followed and the book signing.

After that we were free to attend other events and explore the lovely city of Wellington.  The weather was beautiful and added to the international atmosphere of the Festival.  Other events held included Tony Birch’s session Nothing is Written in Stone, and events with international writers.

Ora Nui 3

A Powhiri (welcome ceremony) was held on Monday and this was lovely to witness and be included in the experience.

Overall, it was an honour to represent FNAWN.  Thanks go to the Festival organisers and volunteers for their assistance and warm hospitality.  It was a pleasure to be a part of the Writers Week.

Tribute: Gerry Bostock

| 16 May 2014

The First Nations Australia Writers’ Network wishes to pay tribute to Gerry Bostock who passed away today. He was a true warrior and champion of Aboriginal arts and literature, as well as our people and communities. His works include Lousy Little Sixpence, Black Man Coming: Poems, as well as a play Here Comes the Nigger in 1974.

Gerry will be sorely missed. Our prayers and best wishes to his family.