I provide cultural sensitivity editing from the lived experience and viewpoint of an Aboriginal woman. I am part of the Kooma nation of south west Queensland.
I specialise in providing cultural sensitivity editing for fiction and memoir manuscripts, however I can offer this service for academic and social policy writing on a case by case basis.
Let me offer a little background about my writing and how it contributes to truth-telling and justice for Aboriginal people.
Melaleuca is about Renee Taylor, an Aboriginal police woman, who returns to the country town in which she grew up to discover a series of murders and disappearances of Indigenous women. Her investigation leads to the unearthing of further disappearances and deeply buried secrets of shame, forbidden love and corruption. Melaleuca is split into two main time horizons: present day and 1960s Queensland, pre-referendum when Aboriginal people (if they refused to relinquish their cultural identities) were still classified under the flora and fauna act (like my father), and lived in abject poverty in fringe camps with little access to social services and cut off from traditional ways of life. It has been compared to The Dry by Jane Harper, and the television series Mystery Road.
My reasons for writing Melaleuca and Sandalwood are firstly to produce a work of fiction that appeals to a broad audience. I read fiction to escape my everyday life and go on a journey into the world of fictional characters, and as such, I hope to produce an engaging and satisfying story for my readers. Secondly, I am writing to bring to light a period in Australian history that can help inform today’s issues. Unless the past is brought to the forefront – known, understood and examined – it will be very difficult for Australian society to move forward. Creative writing is one of many ways to bring people along on the journey of justice and truth-seeking.
I believe my writing will contribute significantly to dialogue around important topics such as:
- Resourcing in the justice department to pursue perpetrators of violence towards Aboriginal women, and locating missing and murdered Aboriginal women;
- The beauty of Aboriginal culture and the strength of our communities in the face of decades of adversity – we maintain our sense of joy, humour and pride;
- Land rights and the importance of connection to land for Aboriginal people;
- Racism and workplace discrimination, as experienced by the protagonist, Renee Taylor – she is ignored, dismissed and routinely belittled in her field of work in the police force.
If you are looking for guidelines on how to write and speak about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, you may like to start with the following resources.
A guide to writing and speaking about Indigenous People in Australia, Roberts, Z., Carlson, B., O’Sullivan, S., Day, M., Rey, J., Kennedy, T., Bakic, T., & Farrell, A.
Aboriginal Studies Press style guide for authors and editors, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
More than Words: Writing, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture and Copyright in Australia, Terri Janke and Company, 2021
Passing the Message Stick, led by Dr Jackie Huggins AM, Larissa Baldwin and Karrina Nolan, supported by GetUp, Original Power and Australian Progress.
Protocols for using First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the Arts, Australian Council for the Arts
If you would like to know more about the importance of cultural sensitivity editing, I recommend these readings.
Australian Publishing Industry Workforce Survey on Diversity and Inclusion, Susannah Bowen and Beth Driscoll from the University of Melbourne, co-sponsored by Australian Publishers Association and University of Melbourne
Diverse Publishing Isn’t Just About Writers, Bridget Caldwell-Bright
What should I do if my manuscript includes Indigenous cultural material? Australian Society of Authors
This was my first time working with a cultural sensitivity editor and I was so impressed at how thoughtful and helpful Versed Writings were while guiding me through this process. The feedback and notes I received were comprehensive showing a deep understanding of what I was trying to achieve, they enriched my writing and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this service.
BP Gregory, author of The Town, Flora & Jim and Outermen. bpgregory.com
Please don’t hesitate to contact me for further information:
m. 0403 913 460