Speakers Profile - Dr Anita Heiss


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Author, Speaker, Ambassador

Anita is a proud member of the Wiradyuri nation of central New South Wales, and is one of Australia’s most prolific and well-known authors and engaging public speakers, weaving stories, politics and social justice for different audiences.

As an advocate for Indigenous literacy, Anita has worked in remote communities as a role model and encouraging young Indigenous Australians to write their own stories and has spoken in schools and at festivals in every state and territory.

On an international level she has been an invited keynote speaker, performed her own work and lectured on Aboriginal literature across the globe at universities and conferences, Australian consulates and embassies in the USA, Canada, the UK, Tahiti, Fiji, New Caledonia, Spain, Japan, Austria, Germany, China, India and New Zealand.

Anita’s fiction includes Not Meeting Mr Right, Avoiding Mr Right, Manhattan Dreaming, Paris Dreaming and Tiddas. Her most recent books include Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms which was longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Prize and was named the University of Canberra’s 2020 Book of the Year.

The anthology Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia which Anita edited, was named the Small Publisher Adult Book of the Year at the 2019 Australian Book Industry Awards.

Anita’s children’s literature includes Kicking Goals with Goodesy and Magic, co-written with Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin. She also wrote two kids’ novels with students from La Perouse Public School - Yirra and her deadly dog Demon and Demon Guards the School Yard, and more recently, Harry’s Secret and Matty’s Comeback.

Anita’s other published works also include the historical novel Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937, non-fiction text Dhuuluu-Yala (To Talk Straight) – Publishing Aboriginal Literature, and The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature, which she co-authored with Peter Minter.

In 2004 Anita was listed in The Bulletin magazine’s “Smart 100”. Her memoir Am I Black Enough for You? was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and she was a finalist in the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards (Local Hero).

Anita is proud to be a Lifetime Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, and an Ambassador of Worawa Aboriginal College, the GO Foundation and the Sydney Swans.

She is on the Board of Circa Theatre Company and University of QLD Press. In 2019, Anita was appointed a Professor of Communications at the University of QLD and in 2020/21 she is the Artist in Residence at La Boite Theatre, adapting her novel Tiddas for the stage.

Her latest novel Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (Rivers of Dreams) was released through Simon & Schuster, May 2021.