A Widjabul /Wia:bal woman from the Bundjalung territories, Rhoda is an experienced motivated and versatile arts executive, with a diverse range of international and national industry practice within commercial, community and non-profit organisations, festivals and events.
The former Head Of First Nations Programming Sydney Opera House, Rhoda is currently the Curator: Parrtjima Festival, Alice Springs, Festival Director, Boomerang Dreaming Festival, the First Nations Creative Director for the Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA), First Nations Consultant NIDA , The Elder in Residence SBS TV and she is the newly appointed Arts Ambassador and consultant for Voyages Indigenous Tourism.
A practicing weaver an actor/producer and director, she continues to work across the Creative industries and is a sought-after consultant, speaker and performer in theatre, film, television, and radio.
Alan Close has been writing for over forty years, during which time he has published fiction, poetry, short stories and creative non-fiction. He has written widely in the national print media, including a column on men and relationships for Good Weekend magazine.
His most recent book is Before You Met Me: A Memoir Of One Man’s Troubled Search For Love. He edited the anthology Men Love Sex, which remains a benchmark of men writing about love, sex and relationships. He lives in Mullumbimby and earns a living working on other people’s manuscripts and as a writing mentor and teacher, both face to face and online.
Will Kostakis is a writer of all things, from celebrity news stories that score cease and desist letters, to tweets for professional wrestlers. That said, he’s best known for his award-winning YA novels. His first novel, Loathing Lola, was released when he was just nineteen. His second, The First Third, won the 2014 Gold Inky Award. It was also shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year and Australian Prime Minister’s Literary awards, among others. The Sidekicks was his third novel for young adults, and his American debut. It went on to win the IBBY Australia Ena Noel Award. Most recently, Will has applied his trademark style to the fantasy genre, with Monuments and its sequel, Rebel Gods.
As a high school student, Will won Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year for a collection of short stories. He has since contributed to numerous anthologies, including the ABIA Award-winning Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology.
An advocate for young readers and writers, Will was awarded the 2020 Maurice Saxby Award by the School Library Association of New South Wales for service to children’s and young adult literature.
Mia Thom, a local Climate activist, and past co-organiser of the Byron Shire Youth for Climate movement has been responsible for organising school strikes since 2018, which have attracted thousands of community members.
Her Bundjalung heritage and ongoing passion and commitment to Indigenous rights, has led to an intersectional approach to Climate Change, promoting Indigenous knowledge as one of the core solutions to our systemic issues. Her dedication to community and mobilisation of youth to action has been recognised through the ADF Long Tan leadership award as well as being awarded Young Australian of the year within the Byron Shire.
Mia’s passion, which has translated to speaking at multiple protests and rallies, led to her involvement in Bob Brown’s Stop Adani convoy in Mullumbimby. Speaking to an estimated 5,000 people it became clear her ability to inspire an audience and discuss the urgent call for action to our climate emergency.
A multiple Nanga Mai award winner, which recognises the academic excellence of Indigenous students at a state level, reflects Mia’s academic rigour, receiving the highest Indigenous Atar in the state. Now graduated, Mia has commenced studying a Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne Uni, hoping to major in Creative Writing and Indigenous studies.
Dylin Hardcastle is a non-binary author, artist, and screenwriter based on Bundjalung Country. They are the author of three critically acclaimed books. Their most recent novel, Below Deck has been published in ten territories and translated into eight languages. Dylin is the co-creator, co-writer and co-director of the SBS On Demand show, Cloudy River, which was made with principal funding from Screen Australia and premiered at Mardi Gras Film Festival in 2020. In 2018, they were one of the first two Australians to study as a Provost’s Scholar at Worcester College at the University of Oxford. They later worked as a research assistant in World Literature at the University of Oxford. Dylin is currently completing their PhD in Creative Writing at UNSW. They have travelled to Antarctica, South America and Europe for artist residencies.
David Roland is a writer, speaker and psychologist (BSc Hons and PhD in clinical psychology). For more than twenty years David worked as a clinical and forensic psychologist in the treatment and assessment of clients ranging from children to adults, for the Children’s Court Clinic and the Criminal Court. He is an Honorary Associate with the University Centre for Rural Health, University of Sydney, and a founding member of Compassionate Mind Australia. He is an advisor to the Young Stroke Project with the National Stroke Foundation.
David’s latest book The Power of Suffering: Growing through life crises (Simon & Shuster, 2020) draws together the real-life stories of 11 incredible people who survived their crises and grew in transformative ways. David not only narrates these stories, but he also examines them through the lens of posttraumatic growth. He details how to be an ‘expert companion’ to someone going through crisis.
His memoir How I Rescued My Brain: a psychologist’s remarkable recovery from stroke and trauma (Scribe) describes how David implemented his own rehabilitation plan using neuroplasticity, psychology and social connection. This book was shortlisted for an ABIA award in 2015 and it was selected by Reading Well (UK) as a prescription book.
The Confident Performer (NewSouth) came out of David’s PhD research and his work with hundreds of performers, public speakers and examination takers. It has been used worldwide in performing arts teaching institutions.
David is published in Best Australian Science Writing 2015. He has been featured in the Sunday Express (UK), The Independent (UK), Rolling Stone, The Sydney Morning Herald, Huffington Post, The Conversation and Wellbeing. He has appeared on ABC Television, Channel Ten, ABC Radio and many international podcasts. In 2015, he was awarded the Stroke Foundation’s Creative Award. He has academic publications in the fields of performance anxiety and vicarious trauma.
Bundjalung woman Grace Lucas-Pennington is an editor specialising in fiction and poetry. She is currently the Senior Editor at State Library of Queensland’s black&write! Indigenous Writing and Editing Project.
Matt Okine spent 3 years co-hosting Triple J radio’s hugely successful Breakfast Show before hanging up his headphones to go into production on the television adaption of his award-winning semi-autobiographical stand up show The Other Guy for Australian SVOD service, STAN. Matt co-wrote and starred in two seasons of the show which can be seen on STAN and Hulu, and which earned him an AACTA nomination for Subscription TV Best New Talent (2017), and an AACTA nomination for Best Comedy Series (2020).
Okine has won several awards for his live shows including the ARIA Award for Best Comedy Release, The Melbourne Comedy Festival’s Director’s Choice Award, and the Best Newcomer Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (which he shared with Ronny Chieng), as well as being nominated for Best Comedy Performer at the Helpmann Awards. In 2018 he hosted the prestigious Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala screening on the ABC.
On screen, Matt has appeared in several shows including Hulu’s 9 Perfect Strangers, the ABC/Netflix production Stateless, Ch 9’s Doctor Doctor, H2O: Just Add Water, SBS’s Legally Brown, and Ch 7’s Orange Is The New Brown. He’s appeared in films See No Evil, Aquamarine, and Paramount’s ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’. He is also the host of the ABC cooking show, Shortcuts to Glory.
Matt’s debut novel Being Black N Chicken & Chips was released in 2019 by Hachette Australia, with a teen edition released in 2021. This heart warming coming of age novel is based on his 2012 live show which earnt him his Best Newcomer Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and also a Best Newcomer Nomination at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Matt is currently the host of Australia’s first daily breakfast podcast, Matt & Alex: All Day Breakfast, and is developing the film adaptation of his novel, Being Black N Chicken & Chips, with Wooden Horse Productions and the Oscar-nominated team at Aquarius Films.
Daniel is host of RN’s The Art Show. Since majoring in painting at university, Daniel has worked as a journalist, broadcaster, and sound artist. He has been with the ABC since 1994, having worked across news and current affairs, including a stint as triple j’s news director. The Bundjalung and Kullilli man presented RN’s Awaye! for many years and leads the ABC’s Indigenous Radio Unit.
Mark McKenna is one of Australia’s leading historians, based at the University of Sydney. He is the author of several prize-winning books, including From the Edge: Australia’s Lost Histories, Looking for Blackfellas’ Point and An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark, which won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for nonfiction and the Victorian, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian premiers’ awards.
Marian Wilkinson is a multi-award winning journalist with a career that has spanned radio, television and print.
She has covered politics, national security, refugee issues and climate change as well as serving as a foreign correspondent in Washington DC for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. She was a Deputy Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Executive Producer of the ABC’s Four Corners program and a senior reporter with Four Corners. She had also written for Australian Foreign Affairs magazine and The Saturday Paper.
As Environment Editor for the Sydney Morning Herald she reported on the rapid melt of Arctic sea ice for a joint Four Corners-Sydney Morning Herald production which won a Walkley Award for journalism and the Australian Museum’s Eureka prize for environmental journalism. She also covered the UN climate conferences in Bali and Copenhagen.
As a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), she reported on the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers for Four Corners. More recently she was associate producer on the Pandora Papers for Four Corners.
In 2018 she was inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame.
She has written several books including the political biography, The Fixer, (William Heinemann) on former Labor powerbroker, Graham Richardson, and Dark Victory, (Allen and Unwin) on Australia’s response to asylum seekers which she co-authored with David Marr.
Her latest book, The Carbon Club, (Allen and Unwin) investigates Australia’s fraught climate change policy and the network of players who derailed it.
Margaret Simons is an award-winning freelance journalist and the author of many books and numerous articles and essays. She is also a journalism academic and Honorary Principal Fellow at the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne.
Simons co-wrote the biography of former Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Fraser. Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs won both the Book of the Year and the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2011.
She also wrote an unauthorised biography of mass media proprietor Kerry Stokes (chairman of the Seven Network). Kerry Stokes: Self-Made Man was published by Penguin in 2013 and was nominated for best non-fiction book at the 2014 Walkley Awards, and won the history prize in the WA Premier’s Literary Awards.
Simons is also a novelist and a gardening writer. Her book Six Square Metres was launched in October 2015, and a USA edition was published in early 2020. Her book Resurrection in a Bucket – The Rich and Fertile Story of Compost was published by Allen & Unwin in May 2004. For many years Simons wrote the popular Earthmother gardening column for The Australian, and today she writes a quarterly gardening column for The Saturday Paper.
As well as writing books Simons is a freelance investigative journalist. Her long-form journalism has been published in The Monthly, Inside Story,The Age and other publications.
Simons was a founding board member (2018-2021) of the Public Interest Journalism Initiative, which conducts research and advocacy on media issues, as well as its Chair of Research. She remains a member of the Expert Research Panel. She is also the Chair of Angeles Relief Inc a charity established to help the children she wrote about in her Philippines journalism.
Simons holds a Doctorate in Creative Arts from the University of Technology Sydney.
Professor Marcia Langton AM PhD Macq U, BA (Hons) ANU, FASSA is one of Australia’s most important voices for Indigenous Australia. She first became an Indigenous rights activist as a student at the University of Queensland, before spending time in Papua New Guinea, Japan and North America learning about those countries’ peoples and cultures. On her return to Australia, Langton graduated in Anthropology at ANU. Since then, she has worked with the Central Land Council, the Cape York Land Council, and for the 1989 Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.
Professor Langton has received many accolades, including an Order of Australia. She has held the Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at The University of Melbourne since February 2000. As an anthropologist and geographer, she has made a significant contribution to government and non-government policy as well as to Indigenous studies. She is regularly asked to comment on issues related to Indigenous rights and art. In 2016 she was honoured as a University of Melbourne Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor. The following year, Professor Langton was appointed as the first Associate Provost at the University of Melbourne. Professor Langton has written several books, both academic and popular, including her bestselling guide to indigenous Australia, Marcia Langton: Welcome to Country.
Louisa Lim is the author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited (2014), which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. She covered China and Hong Kong for a decade as a correspondent for the BBC and NPR, and has reported for the New York Times, Washington Post and Guardian. Raised in Hong Kong, she lives in Australia with her two children and teaches at the University of Melbourne.
Krissy Kneen is the award-winning author of fiction, poetry and non-fiction including An Uncertain Grace which was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. They have written and directed broadcast television documentaries and were the Copyright Agency Ltd Non-fiction Fellow in 2020. The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen is their latest book.
Dr Kathryn Heyman is the author of six novels and the memoir Fury. Her previous work has won the Wingate, Southern Arts Award, Arts Council of England Writing Award and the Hallam Prize in the UK and been listed for awards including the Scottish Writer of the Year, the Orange Prize (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction), the Edinburgh Fringe Critic’s Awards, the Kibble Prize and the West Australian Premier’s Literary Awards. Alongside her publishing career, she was for several years a frequent dramatist for for BBC radio and for the stage. Her dramatic serialisation of Captain Starlight’s Apprentice, republished in a new edition this year, drew an audience of two million. She is the Honorary Professor in Humanities for the University of Newcastle and the director of the Australian Writers Mentoring Program, which pairs new and emerging writers with established mentors. Kathryn won the CAL Author Fellowship for Fury, which was shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature and has been optioned for screen.
Dr Julia Baird is a bestselling author and award-winning journalist. She hosts The Drum on ABC TV and writes columns for the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. After the publication of her first book, Media Tarts, she moved to the United States to take up a fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2007, she became senior editor of Newsweek in New York. Her work has earned her four Walkley Our Watch awards, a Walkley Award for team election reporting and two further Walkley nominations. Julia’s bestselling biography of Queen Victoria was published in several countries to critical acclaim and was one of the New York Times top ten books of 2016. In 2020 she published Phosphorescence which went onto become the highest selling Australian non-fiction title of the year and has subsequently been named Book of the Year by the Australian Book Industry Awards, the Indie Book Awards and the ABA Booksellers’ Choice Awards.
Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson identifies as a Jiman / Bundjalung (Aboriginal Australian) woman who also has Anglo-Celtic, and German heritage. With a PhD from QUT, her primary academic and research focus has been in the area of violence and relational trauma, and healing for Indigenous, and indeed all peoples. She was awarded the Carrick Neville Bonner Award in 2006 for her curriculum development and innovative teaching practice. In 2011 she received the Fritz Redlich award for Mental Health and Human Rights from the Harvard University Global Mental Health Trauma and Recovery program. Her book: Trauma Trails – Recreating Songlines: The transgenerational effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia, provides context to the life stories of people who have experienced generational patterns of violence in families and communities, and the changes that can occur in the work of recovery.
She delivered the Kungas Stopping Violence Program in Alice Springs Prison for four weeks twice a year, worked in a team to co-ordinate and deliver the Wollongong University Indigenous Trauma Recovery Practice Graduate Certificate, has just supported development of the training packages for the 14 Family Violence Prevention Legal Services across Australia. Judy retired from academic work so she can focus on working with communities in Australia and Papua New Guinea educational – healing work, what she calls educaring.
She is an Emeritus Professor at Southern Cross University.
Jean Hinchliffe is a climate justice activist and writer. She founded the Sydney contingent of School Strike 4 Climate in 2018, and has since organised extensively within the group on a local, national and global level. Jean began her activism at age 13 when she volunteered with the Yes campaign for marriage equality. She has also worked with organisations such as GetUp! and Stop Adani. Her first book, Lead the Way was published in March 2021 by Pantera Press.