Welcome to First Word, The newsletter from the First Nations Australia Writers' Network.
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Edition 4 August/September 2014

Message from the Chairperson

Welcome to First Nations Australia Writer's Network (FNAWN)

As usual it's been a busy couple of months for the First Nations Writers Australia Network with events happening all over the world from Canberra to London to New Zealand. It's been a fantastic time for many FNAWNees. As Chairperson I have been busy with our Board meeting here in Canberra, where we began planning our next FNAWN workshop. As always it's great to meet up with the Directors, as we look at future directions for FNAWN and our members. During our meeting we had the pleasure to spend some time with the Us Mob Writing Group over lunch and we heard about their excitement for the up and coming writers workshop with Bruce Pascoe in June. Bruce features prominently in this edition.

Joyce Graham, Michelle Bedford, Johnny Harding, Samantha Faulkner, Cathy Craigie, and Alexis West.

I had lunch with Anton Blank, co-editor of Ora Nui Jounal which was launched at the New Zealand Writers' Festival in Wellington, and Samantha Faulkner, poet and author. You can read Sam's Report later on in the newsletter.

In Unity, Kerry Reed-Gilbert


Message from the Executive Director


As Kerry said “what a busy month” behind us and in front of us. FNAWN is also off to the USA for a week of meetings to promote our literature and to establish some partnerships and initiatives. We will be visiting New York, Washington, and Virginia. we will give you an update in our next newsletter.

Congratulations to the 2014 Sydney Writers' Festival. It was a great success and I was pleased to see a great representation of our writers. One highlight was the Spoken Word and Poetry session, 'Seven Sisters' - 7 women from different language backgrounds presenting their work for 7 minutes.

The Northern Territory's 'Wordstorm' was also held in May 29th - June 1st in Darwin. Congratulations to Panos and the team at NT Writers' Centre for a great program. The wonderful Alexis Wright was one of the headliners. Congratulations also to Jared Thomas. His new book, Calypso Summer, published by Magabala was launched recently in Adelaide.

Of course, we haven't just been attending launches and festivals! We have been busy working behind the scenes get to online membership section of our website. We hope to have it ready within the next few months.

Don't forget, we currently have free membership for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers to FNAWN, until December 31st 2014. So if you haven't joined yet contact us for a membership form to be sent to you.

If you have an event that you would like to share, please let us know.
See you soon, Cathy Craigie, Executive Director

News from the network

A traveller's report by Bruce Pascoe

In June, First Nations Australia and New Zealand opened the ANZ Festival in London with cultural productions prior to the first feature of Time Winton's interview. The participants, Ali Cobby Eckerman, Anita Heiss, and Bruce Pasco 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.
Read more ...


Ora Nui launch by Samantha Faulkner and Alexis West

It was Kia Ora to Aotearoa as we both travelled to Wellington, New Zealand representing FNAWN, at the Ora Nui Special Edition launch. Meeting up with Tony Birch from Melbourne and some of the Maori writers included in the journal: Cath Dunsford, Kani Te Manukura and Anton Blank during Writers Week of the New Zealand Festival. Ora Nui was a collaboration between Ora Nui and the FNAWN. Read more ...


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

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. Read more ... 


Echoes ... of Knowing Home by Alexis West

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.  Presented by No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability, in partnership with Kura Yerlo's Karrarendi visual arts program, and Tandanya, Echoes ... of Knowing Home is a multi-media journey. Read more ...

What's On

Barbara's World, a short film by Edoardo Crismani

A new film by Edoardo Crismani was broadcast on NITV titled Barbara's World. The film is a story of Barbara, a descendant of South Australia's 1926 Indigenous boxing champion, 'The Panther'. Teni Burns, says "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. Read more ....


The Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages is an open access, online repository comprising digital versions of materials prodcued in Literature Production Centres for Northern Territory bilingual education programs in Australian Indigenous languages and English. The archive is expanding to include other materials in NT languages and engaging people in the use of these materials. For more information visit:

What is FNAWN?

If you haven't already heard about FNAWN, we are a new national writers and storytellers' advocacy, resource and support service. Here's what we do:
  • First Nations Australia Writers' Network is the national peak body supporting the development and promotion of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander literature and writers.
  • We enhance writers' skills and opportunities by fostering national networks and partnerships to develop projects and initiatives that will promote and present our literature to a wider audience.
  • We offer both emerging and established writers investment in their creative development and an opportunity to participate in professional advancement.
  • FNAWN will assist literary festivals and organisations to encourage Aboriginal participation by finding writers and developing programs.
  • We will represent and advocate on behalf of our membership, to policy making bodies and other relevant forums and agencies, to promote our writers, poets, and story-tellers' professional interests.
  • We will build strong relationships within the literary and arts industries to ensure our members' interests are included in any industry strategy, plan or policy
  • FNAWN will conduct and contribute research on issues concerning Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander literature and writing.
To find out more information on FNAWN and you can become involved please contact Cathy

FNAWN Website

Call for contributions

We have been working diligently to develop a website for the First Nations Writers’ Network. We are aiming to create a dynamic website that provides up-to-date news and events, as well as advice and resources for emerging and established writers and others from the broader industry.
To help us get the website up and running, we are seeking contributions from the network for interesting and meaningful content. We are hoping to publish one new post per month on a range of topics and have created an editorial schedule. Would you like to write a review and be published on our BookKlub page? Do you have useful hints and tips for writers and people hoping to working in publication? We’d love your contribution. For more information about the editorial schedule, please contact Cathy (

Sharing your news

Let us help share your special event

We'd love to share your news with the FNAWN network. . You may be an individual writer, sharing about an upcoming book launch or speaking event, or you’re a non-Government department sharing about a new initiative. When sending your news to be included, please make it simple, by including an image (where possible), a brief statement about your project, contact details and preferably a hyperlink to a relevant website. Also allow plenty of time. We only publish First Word once a month. For more information about the editorial schedule, please contact Cathy (

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