10 Reasons to love: Dr Anita Heiss

30th May 2014

Prolific writer, social commentator, proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW in Australia AND captivating public speaker there really are many reasons to love the strong, positive and enthusiastic Dr Anita Heiss.

1. Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence.

In 2001, Anita wrote the powerful book Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence for younger readers. It shines a spotlight on the Stolen Generation, when it was estimated that between 1 in 10 and 3 in 10 Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their own homes between 1910 – 1970. Through the diary of Mary, Anita reaches out to a young audience to inform and educate about this tumultuous time in Australia’s history. In 2008 Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister, officially apologised to all Aboriginal Australians and the Stolen Generation for their “profound grief, suffering and loss.

2. She’s changing opinions!

Anita Heiss has been breaking down stereotypes of what it means to be an Aboriginal woman. Her latest novels having been reaching a wide audience of Australian and international women, knocking down inaccurate opinions and educating her readers about her culture.  Anita’s novels Avoiding Mr Right, Paris Dreaming and Tiddas succeed in acknowledging sameness and sharing diversity of women worldwide … ‘Start considering what connects you to someone rather than what separates you. Focus on what makes you the same, not different …’

3. She rocks Twitter

Anita’s Tweets have been applauded for being ‘not afraid to stand up and demand to be heard’ – She’s listed as one of the Top 20 Women shaking things up on Twitter! @AnitaHeiss

4. She took racism to the Australian courts

‘The case was traumatic, but it will remain the most important thing I will ever do in my lifetime.’

In response to an article which appeared in an Australian paper by writer Andrew Bolt in 2009, Anita Heiss, plus 8 others targeted in his writing, filed a case against him under the Racial Discrimination Act.

In the article Bolt claimed that Heiss, and others, were simply choosing to identify themselves as Aboriginal in order to get ‘plum jobs’. Defending her family name, integrity and taking a stance against a ‘history of negative stereotyping of Aboriginal people in the media’ they won. The courts ruled that Andrew Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times had ‘engaged in unlawful racial discrimination.’

5. Gratefulness

Anita’s personal blog is a place where she practices gratefulness. As a result it is brimming with positivity as she revels in the talent, power and strength of those she meets on her own journey through life.

6. Am I Black Enough For You?

Am I Black Enough for You? is an enlightening read. At times funny, at times confronting, and ultimately inspirational. It was also a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards.

Employing a chatty, personal tone Heiss takes us through her life – her love of chocolate, her family and ultimately how her voice, as a proud Wiradjuri woman, has developed to bring her to where she is today. At the very heart, as the title would suggest, is the notion of identity.

7. Anita’s Black Book Challenge

When that particular list (the BBC Book List Challenge) began circulating, Anita decided to compile a list of inspiring works from the hands of talented Indigenous Australians. It’s proved pretty popular, becoming a must turn to list for those eager to discover an array of exciting talent.

8. Her Academic Achievements

Anita was the first Aboriginal person to graduate with a PhD from the University of Western Sydney (Communication and Media) – one of her proudest achievements.

9. Her sense of humour

You just need to listen to her TEDx talk to understand this. My favourite line is the warning that goes out to some of her less successful dates …  ‘Lots of my first dates turn in cultural training awareness workshops’ – an invoice follows for those who try this on!

10. She sparkles …

Anita is on a mission to collect a piece from every Tiffany store during her travels.


FBS FYI: Anita Heiss will be appearing in London for the Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts, which begins on Thursday 29th May 2014. I highly recommend you book to see her!


[Image courtesy of Amanda James and Anita’s Publishers]