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The 2024 Daisy Utemorrah Award shortlist announced!

Fri, May 03, 2024

In partnership with the WA Premier’s Book Awards, Magabala Books is delighted to announce the Daisy Utemorrah Award shortlist:  


‘Acacia: 6 Eyes on Yesterday’ by Dr Stephen Hagan 

‘Acacia: 6 Eyes on Yesterday’follows the journey of a young First Nations teen Acacia and her friends Toby and Allyson as they travel back to Yesterday, a place where you can witness moments in history as invisible visitors. They experience walking in the shoes of First Nations people from the years 1555, 1788, 1955 and 2022 and when they finally return home, they are left with questions about the true story of Australian history. 

Dr Stephen Hagan is a descendant of the Kullilli people of southwest Queensland. His early years were spent living in a fringe camp on the outskirts of Cunnamulla until his achievements in high school took him to a Brisbane boarding school. In between a posting overseas as a diplomatic attaché and business ventures, he worked as a bureaucrat in education and Aboriginal Affairs. A social commentator on race relations, Stephen received a Deadly Award for his Outstanding Contribution to Literature in 2005 and the following year he was named NAIDOC Aboriginal Person of the Year. 


‘Brothers in Arms’ by Maureen Glover 

‘Brothers in Arms’ explores the tragic reality of war, whilst showing the comradery which developed between both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians on the frontline. It is based on fact and explores Maureen’s grandfather’s participation in the war effort as an indigenous Australian, friendships which develop and his life back in Australia where he meets the love of his life.   It covers the brutal truth of mustard gas exposure which led to his death on the day his son turned four.  

Maureen Glover is an author and teacher. She has taught for 31 years throughout Queensland in both the Early Childhood sector and as a Teacher-Librarian.  Maureen is passionate about teaching and writing. This is her first book written for the junior fiction age group. Maureen is a proud Bundjalung woman. 


‘Underneath the Surface’ by Elise Thornthwaite 

‘Underneath the Surface’ follows the journey of Elly, a young Aboriginal girl navigating the complexities of adolescence in the small town of Wirra Creek. Struggling with the aftermath of her father's sudden departure, Elly finds solace in her deep friendship with Jiemba and an unexpected connection with Liam, a popular boy at school. As Elly grapples with her own feelings of loss and longing, she discovers that Liam carries his own burdens, including the responsibility of caring for his disabled sister, Claire. When Claire's health takes a sudden turn for the worse, Elly and Liam find themselves drawn together in a bond of shared adversity, leaning on each other for strength and support. 

‘Underneath the Surface’ explores themes of friendship, resilience, and the healing power of love in the face of adversity. As Elly and Liam confront their fears and insecurities, they discover that true strength lies not in facing challenges alone, but in leaning on each other and facing the future together, one step at a time." 

Elise Thornthwaite is a proud Aboriginal woman of the Gamilaraay nation from New South Wales. Living and working in East Arnhem Land alongside her canine best friend, Peppa. She is a primary school teacher and finds deep purpose in shaping young minds and helping students find a love of learning. Elise’s journey into the world of writing began with a short poem titled 'See you with the worms', which she published through the Regional Scribes program. Rooted in her cultural heritage and the richness of culture around her, Elise’s writing explores themes of resilience and finding beauty in fractured things. Outside of her literary and career pursuits, Elise greatly values her roles as a daughter, sister, and friend. With a deep reverence for her Aboriginality and a commitment to amplifying Indigenous voices, she strives to make a meaningful impact through both her teaching and writing endeavours.  


‘Dusty Tracks’ by Marly & Linda Wells 

‘Dusty Tracks’ is young adult historic fiction, set in Central Australia in modern times as well as 100 years ago.  

13-year-old Millie has a white Australian mother and a Warlpiri father and lives in Alice Springs. One day she borrows a book, Dusty Tracks: Growing up Together on the Central Australian Frontier, set in Central Australia 100 years earlier.  

Millie gets swept up into the book and joins in with the young people of that story. They are Sonny, a young man from the Aboriginal camp on the station; Spike, a white girl who lives in the homestead; and Beryl who has run away from the Bungalow Institute in Alice Springs to go back home and find her family. Millie learns about life 100 years ago including the racism and poor treatment of her people.  

Marly Wells is a proud Warlpiri woman of Warlpiri and white Australian descent. She grew up in Alice Springs. She completed a Batchelor of Arts at Melbourne University with majors in Sociology and Indigenous Studies. Marly lived in England for two years in her early 20s. She then returned to Alice Springs where she worked in the management of children’s services. Marly has also worked as a freelance editor and researcher for Hardie Grant. She co-wrote a children’s book for the Girls Can Boys Can project in Alice Springs and co-wrote an article for the Saturday Paper about the killing of Kumenjayi Walker at Yuendumu.   

Linda Wells is white Australian and proud to be Marly’s mother. She is a teacher and writer. Linda lived in Central Australia for many years and worked as a teacher on desert communities as well as in Alice Springs. For over ten years Linda also ran a small business, conducting guided walking tours of Alice Springs with a focus on the history and culture. She has a PhD in creative, post-colonial possibilities for writing Australian history and is a published author.  


Congratulations Maureen, Dr Stephen, Elise, Marly and Linda! 

The winner of the Daisy Utemorrah Award will receive $15,000 prize money and a publishing contract with Magabala Books. The Daisy Utemorrah Award is generously supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and the WA Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. 

The winner will be announced at the WA Premier's Book Awards ceremony at the State Library of Western Australia in June 2024.