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Two Aboriginal authors among WA Premier’s Book Award winners

Rachael Knowles -

The Western Australian Premier's Book Awards have been announced with two deadly Aboriginal authors among the winners.

Announced on August 7 at the State Library of Western Australia, the ceremony was live streamed across YouTube and live-tweeted.

Noongar academic, Kim Scott, was inducted into the Western Australian Writers Hall of Fame.

Scott is a celebrated author, writing titles such as Benang and That Deadman Dance. He is the 2012 Western Australian of the Year and won the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2000 and 2011.

Wiradjuri and Wailwan lawyer and activist, Teela Reid, was awarded the Daisy Utemorrah Award for her manuscript, Our Matriarchs Matter. She will receive $15,000 and a publishing contract with Broome publisher, Magabala Books.

Reid was inspired by her own nine-year-old niece and Daisy Utemorrah, Wunambal Elder and award-winning poet, author and community leader. Utemorrah was one of the founders of Magabala Books and namesake of the prize, now in its second year.

"I felt an urge to submit my story having learned more about Daisy Utemorrah, but also the fact that I have been strongly shaped by all the matriarchs in my life."

"The story is something that comes from my soul and my spirit," Reid told Magabala Books.

Reid is the co-founder of Instagram account @blackfulla_bookclub, which highlights and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and literature. She is also a criminal defence lawyer based in Sydney and an advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

"I am deeply humbled to receive this award and to be collaborating with my niece Jakayla, the little Wiradjuri and Wailwan artist who will come through and illustrate this story with me," said Reid.

"My gratitude to our ancestors and to the matriarchs in our First Nations communities. They are the backbone of our communities and their stories need to be honoured and told. They are integral to our history and our survival and our existence.

"I would also like to acknowledge and recognise Daisy Utemorrah. It was never my intention to submit a manuscript, but I had an urge and energy, thinking about her and her story, and thinking about the matriarchs in my life."

Magabala Publisher, Rachel Bin Salleh, and author and illustrator, Ambelin Kwaymullina judged the award. Reid will now be working with the Magabala team to publish Our Matriarchs Matter in 2021.

"We're thrilled to be able to work with Teela on her debut book, Our Matriarchs Matter. She has such an incredible energy and is an absolute dynamoâ€"as a lawyer, an activist and now as an author," said Bin Salleh.

"We are humbled to share this journey with her and her niece Jakayla. The story is such an important, timely and moving tribute to First Nations matriarchs."

By Rachael Knowles

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