Anita's Career



Photograph: Amanda James


Photograph (Deadly Awards): Matt Sutton
Dr Anita Heiss is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales and is one of Australia's most prolific and well-known authors of Indigenous literature.
Her published works include the historical novel Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937, the poetry collection Token Koori, satirical social commentary Sacred Cows, non-fiction text Dhuuluu-Yala (To Talk Straight) - Publishing Aboriginal Literature, and a children's book entitled Me and My Mum. Anita has also edited Life in Gadigal Country and co-edited with Penny van Toorn, Stories Without End.
In 2007 Anita released three titles: Not Meeting Mr Right (Random House) for which she won the Deadly Award for Outstanding Contribution to Literature. Her poetry collection I'm not racist, but... (Salt Publishing) won the Scanlon Prize for Indigenous Poetry and her kids' novel Yirra and her deadly dog Demon (ABC Books), was launched at the Sydney Writers' Festival by Her Excellency Marie Bashir, Governor of NSW.
In 2008 Anita released Avoiding Mr Right (Bantam Books) and The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature (Allen & Unwin) which she co-authored with Peter Minter. The Anthology won the 2008 Deadly Award for Outstanding Contribution to Literature.
Anita has performed her works nationally (Sydney Writers' Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Adelaide Writers' Week, Melbourne Writers' Festival, Byron Bay Writers' Festival, Message Sticks, Brisbane Writers Festival, Somerset Festival of Literature, Watermark and Wordstorm, among others) as well as internationally in Spain, Austria, the USA, Canada, Fiji, Japan, New Zealand, China, France, the UK, Tahiti and New Caledonia. She has also been published widely in journals, anthologies and on-line.
Anita was Communications Adviser for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board (2001-2003), was a member of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Committee of Management from 1998-2004 and Chaired the organisation 2008-2009. Anita was Deputy Director of Warawara Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University from 2005-2006.
In 2003 in recognition of her literary achievements Anita was awarded the ASA Medal for Under 35s for her contribution to Australian community and public life.
In 2004 Anita was awarded the NSW Indigenous Arts Fellowship and was listed in The Bulletin magazine's 'Smart 100'. In the same year she wrote and directed her first short-film 'Checkerboard Love' as part of the Lester Bostock mentorship program through Metro Screen, Sydney. She was writer in residence at Macquarie University and was also nominated for a 2004 Deadly Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature.
Anita has made guest appearances on the Einstein Factor, Message Stick, Vulture, Critical Mass, A Difference of Opinion, The Catch Up and 9am with David and Kim.
Anita is currently working as a full-time writer and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Western Sydney attached to the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education. Anita volunteers her time as a Books in Homes Ambassador and as an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador.
Anita was a finalist in the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards (Local Hero) and her latest book Am I Black Enough For You?  was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards.

Tiddas, a novel about friendship set in Brisbane, will be released in 2014.

Anita's international presentations

These include many festivals and conferences as a keynote speaker, performer and lecturer:
  • 2012 - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • 2011 - Houston, Texas
  • 2011 - Queens and Brooklyn, NYC
  • 2010 - Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2010 - Australian Consulate, NYC
  • 2010 - Australian Embassy, Paris
  • 2009 - Las Vegas, USA; Palma, Mallorca.
  • 2008 - London UK; Paris, France; Shanghai, China; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York City, USA; Papeete, Tahiti.
  • 2007 - Poindemie, New Caledonia.
  • 2006 - Suva, Fiji; Norwich, UK; Auckland, NZ; Pensylvannia / North Carolina, USA.
  • 2005 - Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, USA.
  • 2003 - Paris, France; California, Kansas, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, USA; Poindimie, Noumea 2003.
  • 2002 - Vancouver, Winnipeg, Cape Croker, Ottawa (Canada) and Barcelona (Spain).


Anita's authored websites

Barani (yesterday): the Aboriginal history of the City of Sydney
- winner of the NSW Premier's History Award (Audio / Visual) 2002

Anita has published poetry in

  • Meanjin
  • Southerly
  • Idiom 23
  • Muse
  • Ulitarra
  • Australian Short Stories
  • Social Alternatives
  • Aboriginal Studies Association Journal
  • Left Bank, Magazine for Artists of the Diaspora and Indigenous Peoples, USA.
  • The Opening of Borders, Poetry from XXI World Congress of Poets, Sydney Untreated: poems by black writers, compiled by Josie Douglas, Jukurrpa Books, Alice Springs, 2001.
  • Reunion - poems by XXI World Congress of Poets, Sydney 2003.
  • Poetry International
  • Correspondences Oceaniennes, Le Corps

Anita has published short stories in

  • Girls Night In 4,(Penguin, 2005)
  • Single Life
  • Idiom 23
  • RANT Publications
  • Ulitarra

Anita has published book reviews in

  • Bulletin Magazine
  • Australian Book Review
  • Australian Humanities Review
  • Meanjin
  • Ulitarra
  • Southerly
  • The Courier Mail
  • Goodreading
  • Sydney Morning Herald

Anita's prizes and awards include

  • 2012 - Finalist: Human Rights Awards Media (non-fiction) for Am I Black Enough for You?

  • 2012 - Winner: VIC Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing, 2012 for Am I Black Enough for You?

  • 2011 - Winner: Deadly Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Literature for Paris Dreaming

  • 2010 - Winner: Deadly Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Literature for Manhattan Dreaming

  • 2008 - Winner: Deadly Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Literature,  with Peter Minter for the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature.

  • 2007 - Winner: Deadly Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Literature for Not Meeting Mr Right.
  • 2004 -Nominee: Deadly Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Literature
  • 2004- Microsoft / Bulletin Magazine, 'Smart 100' (Arts and Entertainment).
  • 2003 -Winner: Inaugural Australian Society of Authors Medal (Under 35) for contribution to Australian community and life.
  • 2002 -Winner: NSW Premier's History Award (Audio Visual) for Barani: the Aboriginal History of the City of Sydney
  • 2002 -Shortlist:  NSW Premier's History Award (Young People's History) for Who Am I? The diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937.

Anita's film credits

Writer / Director, Checkerboard Love (5 mins) produced by Metra Screen NSW, 2004 as part of the Lester Bostock Mentorhsip Scheme.
  • Premiered, Chauvel Paddington, Sydney, 28.7.04
  • Screened, Tranby Festival - Sydney, 17.9.04
  • Screened, Caught Short Film Festival - Sydney, 7.10.04
  • Screened, Viva La Gong International Film Festival - Wollongong, 25.10.04
  • Screened, Moving Pictures - NAIDOC Week Event, AFTRS, 7.7.05
  • Screened as part of the Brisbane Writers' Festival, 2006

Anita is a member of