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Edition 28 

January 2020 

Welcome to First Word e-newsletter
First Nations Australia Writers Network

From the Chair

Salutations for the New Year FNAWNees, as we farewell 2019 I have been reflecting upon a year of our award-winning poets, authors, illustrators and storytellers who have shared across the First Nation publishing diaspora of 2019 – what a year it has been. Truly a mesmerising literary year heralding state, territory and national award-winning First Nation writers across the genres as you continue to cement your presence, stories and diverse voices from across the nations into every chapter of Australian literature. 2020 is shaping up to be a year of further accelerating publishing celebrations from our FNAWNees’ as we prepare for the coming months among writers festivals throughout Australia. Multiple FNAWNee’s are already engaged with their publishing releases just around the corner, we are very much looking forward to promoting their creative works nationally and internationally. FNAWN will be updating our members with a plethora of opportunities, fellowships, publishing opportunities month by month in 2020.
This year FNAWN will be delivering our monthly newsletters from each of our Board Directors commencing with John Harding who has graciously taken up the good news stories for the month of January. In turn I will present February’s newsletter and then pass it on to another one of our Directors in March. As our membership for FNAWN continues to grow the opportunity for our Directors to echo their creative voices and update on topics of all things publishing and writing that matter to them is a solid collegial platform to engage directly with our members.
An extract from an article that may be of interest for our members:
Indigenous literature has been one of the top-performing categories for local booksellers in 2019, and international publishers are noticing a similar increase in interest for books written by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander authors. Broede Carmody – Sydney Morning Herald. Read the entire article here.

I would personally like to express personal and professional gratitude to our Board Directors and Patron of FNAWN 2019 for all their time and commitment to FNAWN. And thank outgoing Board members Charmaine Papertalk Green and Sharon Mununggurr. Your loyalty, time and dedication to FNAWN was very much appreciated throughout the year. 

As we move forward in 2020 with much enthused anticipation we also reflect on the devastating loss of lives, homes, livelihoods, businesses, livestock, native animals and the overall environmental impact on the Australian way of life that has besieged our nation over the last couple of months with unprecedented and catastrophic fires. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in these times of great loss.
In Unity & Strength, Yvette
Chairperson FNAWN

Dear FNAWNees

Happy new year, shake off your 2019 hangovers and welcome to the first edition of FNAWN's First Word Newsletter for 2020.
I am delighted to have been elected back onto the Board since being the inaugural Treasurer in 2012.

Since our last newsletter, FNAWN have been vigorously engaged with a number of writing projects, as well as organising our FNAWN calendar of events for upcoming writers festivals throughout our states and territories 2020.

Firstly, I am delighted to announce our newest FNAWNees, the Executive Board of FNAWN would like to extend a very warm welcome to the following members:
Alison Whittaker
Jennifer Martiniello 
I was given the great honour by Latrobe University last year of judging the National Indigenous Story Awards, with two other deadly judges, Nathaniel Andrew and Sandra Phillips. A big congrats to Jacob Ridgeway for winning with his beautiful song, Bullyma”, which has the powerful melancholy of They took the Children Away by brother Archie Roach.
We also held our inaugural FNAWN Literary Awards late last year and the winners from the many entries are:
  • Aunty Kerry Reed-Gilbert Under 30s Poetry Award: Jazz Money for Transit of Venus (false gods) 
  • Aunty Kerry Reed-Gilbert Open Age Poetry Award: Luana Towney for Our Protests for Our People 
  • Short Story Award Open Age: Alexis West for Young, Beautiful and Free.
All winning entries are available to read on the FNAWN webpage, with praise from the Judges.

Congrats to the shortlisted FNAWNee’s of the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature - Bruce Pascoe (Young Dark Emu), Kim Scott (Taboo), Natalie Harkin (Archival-Poetics), Allison Whittaker (Blakworks), and Papertalk Green (False Claims of Colonial Thieves, with John Kinsela). We will all be there for our first 2020 Board Meeting, so look forward to cheering you all on in February!

Rachel Bin Salleh (Magabala Books), one of our deadly Directors, has been nominated for the inaugura Literary Lions Medal. So big shout out to you sis, and we all have our fingers crossed!
Extra congrats to FNAWN member and ex-Board member Charmaine Papertalk Green who was short-listed for her poetry Nganajungu Yagu in the Victorian Premier’s Literature Awards. Natalie Harkins was highly commended for Archival-Poetics. Congratulations also to sistagirl Tara June Winch for short-listing in the Fiction category, and brother Archie Roach and Gay’wu Group of Women for Non-Fiction.
Queensland Premier’s Award was announced in November 2019. FNAWN member Melissa Lucashenko received the Award for a work of State Significance for her novel Too Much Lip. Melissa was also a nominee in the Fiction Book Award and People’s Choice Award. FNAWN member Ellen van Neerven was the co-recipient of the Young Publishers and Writers Award. Blakwork by Alison Whittaker won the Judith Wright Calanthe Award for a Poetry Collection. Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina were finalist in the Young Adult Book Award, for Catcher Teller Crow. Congratulations also to Carl Merrison (with Hakea Hustler) for being a finalist in the Children’s Book Award.
In the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, Melissa Lucashenko was a finalist for Too Much Lip and Blakworks by Alison Whittaker was a finalist in the poetry category. Kirli Saunder's children's book The Incredible Freedom Machines, the inaugural winner of the Daisy Utemorrah Award WA Premier’s Book Award, was shortlisted the 2019 Prime Minister’s Award.
And a final congrats to my FNAWN Newsletter co-editor Karen Wyld, who has been shortlisted for the UAWP 2020 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.
How deadly is that mob. I hope to meet you all in person, now I have undertaken a Board role!
Victorian members news
In that capacity I would like to congratulate The Melbourne Writers Festival for commencing on the development of a First Nations Community Engagement Strategy to be launched at the Festival in 2020. I will be playing an advisory role. I hope all Writers Festivals are watching this space, so they too can equally engage with our mob, and walk the talk.
One initiative I will be advocating for as a Victorian-based First nations writer, is to assist in the organisation and attainment of funding for some First Nations writers’ workshops around this sorely neglected region. I know there are lots of incredible and funny stories waiting to be told, and its time Koorie Victoria was heard en masse in the literary world. Contact me at!
So stay tuned you Koorie mob, and if you haven’t joined FNAWN yet, why not? Art for arts sake, we don’t have the time! We too busy tellin our stories!
John Harding
Board Member


The 2019 AGM was held in Canberra on 19 October. We are proud to announce the latest Executive Board of FNAWN
  • Chairperson, Yvette Holt
  • Returning Board Directors Dr Jeanine Leane and Samantha Faulkner and Chella Goldwin
  • Newly elected Board Directors Rachel Bin Salleh and Ali Cobby Eckermann
  • Former Board Director / Treasurer 2012 John Harding
Jackie Huggins continues to support FNAWN as Patron.

Awards, fellowships and other opportunities

The Nakata Brophy Short Fiction and Poetry Prize for Young Indigenous Writers is open. Prize includes a residency in Melbourne, publication in Overland and $5000. If you are 30 years or younger, check it out. Closes 2 February 2020.
Magabala Books 2020 Daisy Utemorrah Award is currently seeking submissions. This Award is for an unpublished manuscript of junior or young adult fiction. The prize is $15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala. Closes 30 April 2020.
Black&Write Writing Fellowships are back for 2020. Two Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers are awarded a fellowship, which includes $10,000 and support to develop their manuscripts for publication. Closes 28 February 2020.
Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards are seeking entries. See their website for categories and criteria, before 10 February 2020.
Text Prize for Young Adult & Children’s Writing is open until 7 February 2020. Prize is a publishing contract and $10,000 advance.
FNAWN members participated in the #AuthorsForFireys auction that raised funds for volunteer fire services. In total, over $500,000 was raised by participating Australian and international writers and illustrators. See the Authors for Fireys website for more details.

The following FNAWN members offered their time and/or books to this cause:
Anita Heiss, Marcia Langton, Lisa Fuller (package includes works by Us Mob Writing and Kerry Reed-Gilbert), Karen Wyld, and Magabala Books (with books by Charmaine Papertalk Green, Bruce Pascoe, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Alison Whittaker, and more).

Summer Reads

Check out some FNAWN members works that have recently been awarded prizes or short-listed.
Past newsletters can be viewed on FNAWN website.

If you have any literary news you would like to share among our network of FNAWNees, we want to hear from you. We welcome photographs, book launches, community events and news, awards, fellowship and scholarship news from each state and territory.
Please email
Communications email: 

Mailing address:
First Nations Australia Writers Network
C/- Australian Society of Authors
Suite C1.06
22-26 Mountain Street
NSW 2007

Membership is open to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander storytellers, writers, poets, playwrights and editors. 

Forms are available on the website 

All membership enquiries should be addressed to Yvette Holt
Copyright © 2018 First Nations Australia Writers Network
All rights reserved.

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First Nations Australia Writers' Network · Suite C1.06 · 22 - 26 Mountain Street · ULTIMO, NSW 2007 · Australia

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