The SCWC has a strong Indigenous literary program dating back to 2000. In 2015, the program included ten workshops with Indigenous youth at Kanahooka High School which were held with the support of Wollongong City Council. As part of the Dreaming Inside project, up to four workshops for Indigenous inmates at Junee Correctional are scheduled, which are conducted by the SCWC team of Aboriginal writers – the Black Wallaby Writers. The SCWC annually presents its Dreaming Inside anthology as the outcome of these workshops and will launch it as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival in May 2016.
Readings, talks and mentorships are facilitated by Indigenous writers connected to the Centre, as well as national and international guests. Among the very successful annual events is the Black Wallaby Indigenous Writers’ Night event at the Wollongong Art Gallery, which is held in conjunction with the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and has become Wollongong’s major annual Indigenous literary event over the years, attracting the attendance of the local community as well as local and federal politicians, including our patron, Colin Markham.
Indigenous Writer-In-Residence Program
In 2015/16, the SCWC commenced its Indigenous Writer-In-Residence program, supported and funded by the Australian Government's Indigenous Advancement Strategy. With the support of an Aboriginal Regional Arts Funding, the Black Wallaby Writers are currently offering a mentorship for emerging Indigenous writers (2015/16).
Previous writers-in-residence include:
First Indigenous Writer in Residence (20 May–3 June), Bruce Pascoe, is a teacher, farmer, fisherman and Aboriginal language researcher. Pascoe is an Indigenous writer, from the Bunurong clan of the Kulin nation, and is Director of Commonwealth Australian Studies project. His books include: Fog a Dox, a book for young adults that won the Prime Minister's Literary Awards in 2013; Convincing Ground, about the Convincing Ground massacre; and Dark Emu, a book that challenges the claim that pre-colonial Australian Aboriginal peoples were hunter-gatherers. His research of early settler records found accounts of grain cultivation, flour, wells, and dams.
Second Indigenous Writer in Residence (18 November–2 December), Jim Everett, is a member of the Plangermairreenner clan of the Ben Lomond people of the Cape Portland nation, Tasmania. Everett has had a longstanding engagement with the arts as a poet, playwright, writer of short stories and as a television and radio producer. Everett’s long and passionate involvement with Aboriginal affairs, both as an activist and a government employee, informs his artistic aspirations across the full range of creative mediums he employs.
Third Indigenous Writer in Residence (18 May–1 June), John Muk Muk Burke, is a Wiradjuri man who lives in Wagga Wagga. He has taught in primary schools in New Zealand, Darwin and outback Northern Territory, and has been a specialist art teacher and music adviser for the Northern Territory Department of Education. He was a lecturer in History and English Literature at the Centre for Aboriginal and Islander Studies at the Northern Territory University from 1992–2001. His fiction Bridge of Triangles won the 1993 David Unaipon Award and his poetry volume Night Song and Other Poems won the national Kate Challis RAKA Award in 2000. He served as a David Unaipon judge from 1998–2001. He worked as a teacher at the Goulburn Correctional Cetntre with Aboriginal inmates. John Muk Muk Burke is part of the Black Wallaby team who facilitates the Dreaming Inside project at Junee Correctional Centre.
Over its history, the Indigenous literary program has been supported by: The GEO Group, Arts NSW, Wollongong City Council and the Wollongong Art Gallery, The Copyright Agency Limited, and the University of Wollongong.
Black Wallaby Indigenous Writers' Night
A look into the South Coast Writers Centre's annual 'Black Wallaby Indigenous Writers' Night', held at the Wollongong Art Gallery.
Twice a year, a team of the SCWC's Black Wallaby Writers head down to Junee Correctional Centre to conduct writing workshops with the Indigenous inmates. At the conclusion of the workshops, the Black Wallaby Writers and the SCWC publish and distribute their work in an anthology of Aboriginal writing and artwork. The Black Wallaby Indigenous Writers' Night serves as the offical launch of each annual anthology and also generates money through book sales, donations and the auctioning of artworks created by the inmates to put back into the program for the following year.
Video created by Jemima Pascoe