As well as the Melbourne Writers’ Festival this past weekend, the First Nations Australia Writing Network’s Annual Conference was held at the Wheeler Centre in the heart of Melbourne. Aboriginal writers from all over the country came together, to collaborate and celebrate ideas for future projects both as a collective and as individual artists with their own stories and future proposals in mind.
Representing the SA Writers Centre were ATSI writers Edoardo Crismani and Greg Hodgkinson, as well as ATSI Project Coordinators Carissa Godwin and Alexis West. The group travelled from Adelaide to Melbourne, where they happily indulged in the glorious atmosphere and immense brain food at the workshops and forums, as well as making some new friends.
Alexis West shares with us some key takeaways from the panel comprising of Tony Birch, Melissa Lucashenko and Jared Thomas:
You’re entitled to be paid for your work, just like everyone is, in any trade. There seems to be an expectation that First Nations Australia – or any – writers are expected to give back to their immediate or wider community for nothing.
Be careful of tokenism in literature events, publications and projects. Avoid this by maintaining integrity and quality (in your writing and professional life and in what projects you choose to be a part) at the forefront of your mind. She says, ‘First Nations Australia writers can often be engaged in an event or project as the token black fella.’
And from Melissa Lucashenko, she learnt it was vital as a writer to ‘be organised, utilise great time management and get your taxes done!’
Edoardo and Greg also shared their experiences:
‘It was so great to hear noted keynote speakers such as Richard Frankland and also engage in workshops on getting your writing published with publisher Magabala Books. A highlight among many for me was keynote presentation of Dr Gary Foley – academic, activist, writer, historian, actor, filmmaker and social commentator. His satirical rendition of his life’s work and adventures and had the full house of fellow writers laughing out loud throughout his totally engaging presentation,’ Edoardo Crismani.
‘Returning from the recent First Nations Australia Writers Workshop in Melbourne I have been left inspired and motivated. Learning and sharing with great Aboriginal writers from around Australia has been a priceless experience. Powerful presentations from experienced writers, including keynote speakers Richard Frankland and Dr Gary Foley left us all in awe. The two day workshop brought Aboriginal writers of all levels together to develop a great writing network across the country so that we can all help each other reach new heights with our writing. I walk away with some great new friends who I can share my ongoing writing journey. The experience, development and motivation I take away will help me become a stronger writer. We laughed, we shared, we listened, we learnt, we wrote and we developed,’ Greg Hodgkinson.