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Introducing the Daisy Utemorrah Shortlist...

Wed, Aug 05, 2020

Ahead of the announcement of the Daisy Utemorrah Award on Friday 7 August at the WA Premier's Book Awards ceremony, we're delighted to profile the five shortlisted storytellers and writers...

Congratulations to these creators! The five manuscripts were selected from an impressive pool of entries and represent a bright future for First Nations junior and YA fiction.


‘18 comments’ by Ellen van Neervan:

‘18 comments’ is a YA verse novel that asks, 'what is racism' and 'why is it harmful’ for young people particularly in a social media age. It follows 18 characters who comment on a facebook post and dives headfirst into experiences of racial bullying.

‘18 comments’ is an extraordinary manuscript and ground-breaking examination of racial discrimination for teenagers – using verse as a powerful way to begin a vital discussion.

Ellen van Neerven (they/them) is an award-winning writer, editor and educator of Mununjali (Yugambeh) and Dutch heritage with strong ancestral ties to south east queensland. They write fiction, poetry and non-fiction, and play football on unceded Turrbal and Yuggera land. Ellen's books include Throat, Comfort Food and Heat and Light.




‘Swell’ by Elizabeth Stuart:

Sandy is a teenage girl who loves the land and the sea. Whether she is surfing with the dolphins, riding horses wild and free or walking the land, she feels deeply connected to the animals, earth, sea and sky. ‘Swell’ shares the ups and downs of Sandy’s life, as she comes to know her true identity.

‘Swell’ is an evocative exploration of identity and coming of age, amid beautiful descriptions of the natural environment. ‘Swell’ presents a very promising work of junior fiction.

Elizabeth (Bessie) Clare Stuart is a teacher, a singer/songwriter, an artist and an aspiring author and illustrator. She is proud of her mixed heritage with maternal ancestors from Bundjalung country, and paternal ancestors from Aotearoa, New Zealand. Bessie completed a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Australian Studies at The University of Sydney and then a Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning through Charles Darwin University. She is a passionate educator and has been an early childhood, primary and high school teacher since 2008.

Bessie lives on Wonnarua country in the Hunter Valley with her husband, their young daughter and extended families. She writes to share her story and her personal insights into the wonders of this world, to inspire respect and care for the land, the oceans, rivers and the peoples, past, present and future.


‘Yenda’ by Jannali Jones:

Yenda lives in a remote community in the Northern Territory. Lately bizarre things have been happening around town: the animals have gone missing, people are acting strangely and mysterious totems keep appearing. 'Yenda' is a young adult fantasy novel that combines fantasy elements with a modern Indigenous setting.

‘Yenda’ is a  significant YA novel, with a compelling teenage voice and perspective. A powerful story about strange and mysterious forces at play and the strength within.

Jannali Jones is a Krowathunkoolong woman of the Gunai nation. She holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. Jannali was the winner of the 2015 black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship for her debut novel My Father's Shadow and was an inaugural recipient of Magabala’s Australian Indigenous Creator Scholarship.


‘Noble Intentions’ by Krista Dunstan:

‘Noble Intentions’ introduces Amber, an ordinary teenage girl living a quiet life in a small country town on the south coast of Western Australia, that is until she is propelled into a parallel world and a coming wave of revolution…

'Noble Intentions’ is a compelling YA manuscript that creates a captivating fantasy world that will enthral and delight readers.

Krista Dunstan is a young Nyoongar woman born and raised in the south-west in Esperance, Western Australia and currently living in Perth. Having spent her childhood exploring the stunning local bush and coast line, Krista wanted to share it’s beauty and magic with the rest of Australia. Krista strongly believes in developing our Australian identity and community relationships based on the proper respect for, and recognition of, our Traditional Owners and culture and lives by these values. Krista's career to date has combined her legal and policy skills to work towards achieving better outcomes for our communities and pursuing the practical translation of "corporate social responsibility". Krista's first book, 'Noble Intentions', is set alongside her hometown in the southwest and begins to peel back the curtain between two worlds.


‘Our Matriarchs Matter’ by Teela May Reid:

‘Our Matriarchs Matter’ introduces junior readers to the strength of First Nations women as powerful role models and the backbone of our communities. Its objective is to introduce First Nations Feminism to young readers using Wiradjuri language. Told through the life of a young Koori girl, ‘Our Matriarchs Matter’, centres black women as beautiful, powerful and the keeper of stories.

‘Our Matriarchs Matter’ is a powerful work of junior fiction that celebrates First Nations matriarchs using Wiradjuri language. A beautiful soaring tribute to the strength of matriarchs.

Teela Reid is a proud Wiradjuri & Wailwan woman, lawyer and activist born and raised in Gilgandra western NSW. Teela is a co-founder of @blackfulla_bookclub on Instagram, a platform that honours First Nations Ancestors as the original storytellers. Teela is currently a criminal defence lawyer based in Sydney, she is an advocate for abolishing systemic racism in the criminal justice process &  a campaigner for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Teela was inspired by her little niece Lala May Reid who is a gifted little artist to collaborate and create the manuscript for the story: “Our Matriarchs Matter”.  Together, they tell a formidable story about the power of blackfulla Matriarchs as the backbones of our communities & their sacred healing spirits through the use of Wiradjuri language. 


The winner of the Daisy Utemorrah Award will be announced on Friday 7 August at the WA Premier’s Book Awards at the State Library of Western Australia and online. The winner receives $15,000 prize money and a publishing contract with Magabala Books.