National Reconciliation Week is held every year from 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the journey to reconciliation – the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision. The aim of Reconciliation Week is to raise awareness of the issues Indigenous people face, celebrate Indigenous cultures and histories, and recognise the achievements and contributions of Indigenous people in all areas of society.
The theme of this year’s Reconciliation Week is ‘Grounded in Truth, Walk Together in Courage’. Below we profile four Indigenous writers and illustrators whose work and lives speak to this theme in some way.
We recommend teachers explore both the Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week websites for further information. To begin your search, visit:
Where is he from? Bruce Pascoe is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man born in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond.
Notable books? Fog a Dox won the Young Adult category of the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, and was also shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards and the Deadly Awards. Pascoe is also the author of Dark Emu, a groundbreaking work that reveals compelling evidence that we need to reassess the accepted narratives around how Aboriginal peoples managed the land at the time of invasion. A children’s version, Young Dark Emu, has also been released.
Interesting facts? Pascoe has had a varied career as a teacher, farmer, fisherman, barman, fencing contractor, lecturer, Aboriginal language researcher, archaeological site worker and editor. In 2018, the Australia Council awarded Pascoe a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Extra resource? ABC Education released a digibook about Pascoe’s investigations into Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity.
Ali Cobby Eckermann
Where is she from? Ali Cobby Eckermann is a celebrated poet and writer living in Koolunga, South Australia. She identifies with the Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha people from the north-west desert country of South Australia.
Notable books? Ruby Moonlight, a verse novel, won the kuril dhagun Indigenous Writing Competition through the State Library of Queensland and in 2013, was awarded the Kenneth Slessor Prize and Book of the Year Award in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. The critically acclaimed, Inside My Mother, was shortlisted for the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and was selected for the 2019–23 HSC set text list.
Interesting facts? In 2017, following the publication of Inside My Mother, Ali won the Windham-Campbell prize, a prestigious international award worth AUD$215,000.
Extra resource? Red Room Poetry published a series of videos to help students and teachers connect with Ali’s poetry.
Boori Monty Pryor
Where is he from? Boori Monty Pryor was born in Townsville, North Queensland in 1950. His father is from the Birri-gubba Nation of the Bowen region and his mother’s tribal group from Yarrabah, near Cairns, is the Kunggandji.
Notable books? Pryor has written several award-winning books with Meme McDonald including Maybe Tomorrow, My Girragundji, The Binna Binna Man, and Njunjul the Sun. He also wrote a picture book called Shake a Leg, which was illustrated by Jan Ormerod. According to his publisher, ‘His stories are about finding strength within to deal with the challenges without, and his skill is to create positive visions of the future for both Indigenous and white people.’
Interesting facts? In 2012, Pryor became Australia’s first Children’s Laureate, a role he shared with Alison Lester for two years.
Extra resource? Storykeepers is a documentary that follows Pryor as he visits schools across the country and teaches students to love stories and storytelling. There is also an information sheet to accompany the documentary.
Where is she from? Bronwyn Bancroft is a Djanbun clan member of the Bundjalung Nation.
Notable works? Bancroft has illustrated over 40 books, including Big Rain Coming (written by Katrina Germein), The Amazing A to Z Thing (written by Sally Morgan), Stradbroke Dreamtime (written by Oodgeroo Noonuccal) and a series of books Bancroft also authored, including Why I Love Australia and Shapes of Australia. Bancroft is also a highly accomplished artist; in a career spanning over three decades, she has participated in hundreds of exhibitions, both solo and group, within Australia and overseas.
Interesting facts? In 2010 Bronwyn received the Dromkeen Medal for her contribution to Australian Literature and in 2016 was the Australian Finalist for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in the Illustrator category.
Extra resource? In partnership with Reading Australia, ABC Splash created a series of interviews with Australian writers and illustrators. Watch Bancroft’s interview here.