David Unaipon Award for an Emerging Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Writer

2022 Shortlist

Congratulations to the finalists!

'Finding Billy Brown' by Edoardo Crismani

Judges' comments:

When AFL star Billy Brown is hit by a car, he is thrown into the 1930s. Instantly, he meets people he connects with and finds his footing within a boxing troupe. But to return home, Billy must learn to understand himself and his culture more deeply. This time-bending story and its characters bring heart, honesty, and hope to the reader.

About the author:

Wiradjuri writer and filmmaker Edoardo Crismani was nominated for an Australian Writers' Guild Award for the documentary titled The Panther Within. His short stories and poetry have been published in journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas. He is the Coordinator/Facilitator for South Australian First Nations Writers Group and a Board Director of the First Nations Australia Writers Network.

'Wawun, Judulu and The Big Storm' by Julie-Ann 'Garrimaa' Moore

Judges' comments:

Set on Far North Queensland’s Yidinji country, the appeal of 'Wawun, Judulu and The Big Storm' is its celebration of traditional language for younger readers, and its awareness of sharing traditional knowledge of the rainforest’s native animals and seasons. There is a wide appeal for work like this, and the judges recognised how it could be developed as a middle grade fiction or an early reader. This is an engaging story which will encourage readers to focus on comprehension and learning language.  

About the author:

Julie-Ann Moore is a First Nations mother-of-five interested in writing and sharing cultural stories that inspire. Through her work, she teaches children language whilst cultivating an interest that enriches children with an experience and understanding of the basic aspects of the natural world. Julie-Ann's grandmother taught her how to understand nature through observing key indicators of seasons, animal habits and cycles. Julie-Ann hopes to share important knowledge through the development of her children's storybook series that encourages children to reconnect with nature and, more importantly, develop an understanding and appreciation for the animals and plant species endemic to the Far North Queensland wet tropics rainforest.  

'Always Will Be – stories of Goori sovereignty, from the future(s) of the Tweed' by Mykaela Saunders

Judges' comments:

This collection of short stories centres climate change and politics while showing what a future could look like under Goori Sovereignty. Mykaela Saunders deftly navigates themes of culture, Country and community with beautiful and engaging characters and endless possibilities.  

About the author:

Mykaela Saunders is a Koori, Goori and Lebanese writer, teacher, community researcher and the editor of the critically-acclaimed THIS ALL COME BACK NOW, the world's first anthology of blackfella speculative fiction (UQP). Mykaela is a 2021 Next Chapter recipient, and has won the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize, the National Indigenous Story Award, the Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers Prize for Nonfiction and the University of Sydney's Sister Alison Bush Graduate Medal for Indigenous research. Of Dharug descent, and working-class and queer, Mykaela belongs to the Tweed Goori community.

untitled manuscript by Rick Slager

Judges' comments:

While still a manuscript in development, the writing within Slager's 'Untitled' exhibits the makings of an important future voice in Aboriginal literature. The world of the protagonist is very well drawn, deftly taking the reader into the complexity of an Aboriginal man marginalised within a small Australian community through class and cultural differences. 

About the author:

Rick Slager lives on Karta, an island off the south coast of South Australia which is Ngarrindjeri, Nhurungga and Kaurna Country, with his partner and a little black dog. Like his Ancestors, both Aboriginal on Nhurungga Country and European, he has worked as a professional fisherman. This career gave him more opportunity to read, daydream, hear and tell stories than most. He credits all of this for his love of writing.

'Unplanned Journey: A personal account of one Indigenous woman's life' by Aunty Joan Tranter

Judges' comments:

'Unplanned Journey' takes us on a journey through eight decades of personal memories and recollections against a backdrop of mission life, discrimination and ethnocentric government policies. The author fondly recalls community and family and her determination to succeed even against the odds. What started out as a gift to her children and grandchildren could turn out to be a gift to readers. Aunty Joan’s story is inherently personal, but it is also one imbued with collective and political significance. 

About the author:

Aunty Joan Tranter, a Kamilaroi woman through her mother’s lineage, with Wampanoag (Native American) heritage, was born and raised on Wakka Wakka Country in the1940s. She was an adult educator in the community, TAFE and higher education sectors and still works as an Industry Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Aunty Joan is, and has always been, passionate about promoting the importance of education and reconciliation. She recognises both cultural and mainstream education as vehicles for herself, her children and grandchildren, as well as other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.