It’s been 25 years since Faith Bandler’s book Turning the Tide: A Personal History of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders was published. But what has happened since? Indigenous Australians still claim one of the world’s lowest adult literacy rates. Ali Cobby Eckermann and Henry Reynolds speak about the Northern Territory intervention and its ongoing effects on the community. The writers discuss the intervention’s wider implications and historical context, and how all of these affect their writing. Chair: Anita Heiss.
Presented with the Faculty of Education & Social Work, the University of Sydney.
Anita Heiss (Australian)
Dr Anita Heiss is one of Australia’s most popular authors. She is currently working as a full-time writer and is an Adjunct Professor at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, UTS Sydney. Anita volunteers her time as an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador and a Books in Homes Ambassador and she is an Advocate for the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence. Anita’s most recent non-fiction book Am I Black Enough For You? won the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Indigenous Literature Prize and was a finalist in the Human Rights Awards (non-fiction). Anita was also a finalist in the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards. Anita’s novels Not Meeting Mr Right, Manhattan Dreaming and Paris Dreaming all won Deadly Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Literature. Her novel Who Am I? the diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937 has been translated into French, Spanish, Mandarin and Farsi. Anita is a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW and her latest novel is Tiddas. anitaheiss.com
Henry Reynolds, historian, grew up in Hobart and was educated at Hobart High School and the University of Tasmania. In 1965 he accepted a lectureship at James Cook University in Townsville, which sparked an interest in the history of relations between settlers and Aborigines. His pioneering scholarly work, especially The Other Side of the Frontier, was critical in changing understandings of the Australian frontier. With The Law of the Land, this prolific historian increasingly engaged with contemporary legal and political issues. In morally charged works such as This Whispering in our Hearts and Why Weren't We Told, this most lucid of writers gave the cause of Reconciliation a historical underpinning. In 2000 he took up a professorial fellowship at the University of Tasmania.
Ali Cobby Eckermann, poet and writer, was born on Kaurna Country, and grew up on Ngadjuri country South Australia. She has travelled extensively and lived most of her adult life on Arrernte country, Jawoyn country and Larrakia country in the Northern Territory. Eckermann met her birth mother, Audrey, when she was in her 30s and learnt that her mob was Yankunytjatjara from north-west South Australia. 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, but her second verse novel, Ruby Moonlight, won the Kuril Dhagun Indigenous Writing Fellowship, which is part of the black&write! Indigenous Editing and Writing Project, the State Library of Queensland. The novel was then published in 2012 by Magabala Books, and won the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry and was awarded the “Book of the Year at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2013.