A writer-in-residence at the Queensland University of Technology is set to increase the profile of urban Aboriginal women in Australian literature.

Sydney-based author, Doctor Anita Heiss, has just started a four week term at QUT.

Maggie Lighezzolo reports.


Dr Heiss’ book is called Tiddass – a common Aboriginal term in New South Wales meaning ‘female friends’.

It is based on the lives of five women in their 40s from Mudgee who now live in Brisbane.

Dr Anita Heiss, Writer-in-Residence: “One of the women at the age of 40 becomes a mature age student – I don’t want to give too much away – but she comes to QUT – because I’m still thrashing it out – she comes to QUT to do a Fine Arts degree and finds a new sense of self and a new sense of identity.”

Dr Heiss relies on immersing herself in the places and experiences of her characters.

Dr Anita Heiss, Writer-in-Residence: “For me to be able to write with authenticity about the streets, the people, the smells, the sounds and so forth, I have to be in those places.”

The writer-in-residence program is an initiative of QUT Creative Writing and Literary Studies and the Indigenous unit known as Oodgeroo.

Dr Anita Heiss, Writer-in-Residence: “I would have had to come and do this at some point. But a whole month to do it courtesy of the Copyright Agency Limited who actually funded my residency is just a blessing and I know my writing will be much better for it.”

According to Dr Heiss, Aboriginal women are greatly under-represented in Australian literature, she continues to rectify this through her new book.

Dr Anita Heiss, Writer-in-Residence: “The reality is 32 per cent of our people live in urban centres, one fifth of Aboriginal people live in greater Sydney. You would never know that if you read Australian literature.”

Dr Vivienne Muller, QUT Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing: “Anita is a very active person in the literary area. She has had several publications, two of which have won the Deadly Award.”

Dr Heiss has also been appointed a 2012 National Year of Reading Ambassador.

Maggie Lighezzolo, QUT News.