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International Women’s Day

Posted by Team APATA | Mar 4, 2021

The theme for this year’s International Women’s day, 8 March 2021, is Choose to challenge: from challenge comes change. This theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future. APATA has chosen three women to celebrate as choosing to challenge the status quo and changing the landscape of Australian creative arts with their powerful and proud First nations female perspectives.

Shout out to Yorta Yorta/ Gunaikurnai woman Andrea James. Playwright, creative producer, director, collaborator and practitioner.

~ Artistic Director of Melbourne Workers Theatre 2001-2008

~ Aboriginal Arts Development Officer Blacktown Arts Centre 2010-2012

~ Aboriginal Producer Carriageworks 2012-2016

~ Blak Box Producer Urban Theatre 2018

~ Currently a commissioned writer for Melbourne Theatre Company

~ Recipient of British Council’s Accelerate Program for Aboriginal Art Leaders in 2013

~ Arts NSW Aboriginal Arts Fellowship recipient


~ Yanagai! Yanagai! ~ Coranderrk [with Giordano Nanni] ~ Bright World [with Elise Hearst] ~ Blacktown Angels ~ Bukal ~ Winyanboga Yurringa ~ Sunshine Super Girl ~ The Black Woman of Gippsland ~ Dogged [with Catherine Ryan]

Andrea is also the 2021 Associate Artist for Sydney’s Griffin Theatre. Her play Dogged, co-written with Cath Ryan, will be performed at Griffin 30 April – 5 June.

Access Andrea’s work at australianplays.org

Bravo to Yorta Yorta woman Professor Deborah Cheetham AO. Soprano, composer, educator and pioneer.

~ Artistic Director and Founder of Short Black Opera – Australia’s national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the development of Indigenous singers. Established 2009 along with the Dhungala Childrens choir.

~ Appointed Officer of the Order of Australia 2014 for “distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance”.

~ Women in Victoria Honor Roll 2015

~ Honorary Doctorate from UniSA for her pioneering work and achievements in music. 2018

~ Melbourne Prize for Music 2019

~ Established ‘One Day in January’ project [developing and nurturing First nations orchestral musicians

~ Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award for service to music in Australia

~ Merlyn Myer Prize for composition

~ Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll

~ Composer in Residence for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra 2020

~ Professor of Practice at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music

Major Compositions:

~ Pecan Summer [Australia’s first Indigenous opera] ~ Eumeralla, a war requiem for peace [Sung in the language of the Gunditjmara people] ~ MPavillion Acknowledgment to Country Series [sung in Boon Wurrung language] ~ Dhungala Choral Connection Song book [various languages] ~ Ancient Land Processional [Kaurna, Boandik, Barngarla languages]

  • Woven Song Embassy Tapestry Series. Singapore, Dehli, Tokyo, Paris, Rome, The Holy See, Washington, Dublin, Beijing
  • Beneath the Wings of Bunjil. Commission for the City of Casey 2018 opening of Bunjil Place.
  • Tarami Nulay, Gadigal and English. Commission for St Andrews Cathedral School 2017
  • Eternal Birrarung. Commission for the City of Melbourne upon the restoration of the Federation Bells 2013
  • Dali Mana Gamarada, Gadigal language. Commission for the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Meet the artist| Deborah Cheetham AO makes her Opera Queensland debut this month in Songs My Mother Sang to Me. You can learn more about her astonishing career ahead of her performance with Toni Lalich OAM HERE at Opera Queensland

Songs My Mother Sang To Me –

  • Deborah Cheetham AO and Toni Lalich OAM
  • 19 & 20 March | Opera Queensland Studio
  • Tickets $85

Eumeralla, a War Requiem for Peace will be at the Perth Concert Hall, Friday 15 October 2021. Buy tickets here.

To explore more and follow Professor Deborah Cheetham AO head to Short Black Opera.

Give it up for Dr Anita Heiss, a Wiradjuri woman  and author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial fiction, and children’s novels. Dr Heiss is also Lifetime Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, lecturer, speaker and proud Ambassador for Worawa Aboriginal College, the GO Foundation and is on the board of the State library of Queensland.


~ The books: Kicking Goals with Goodesy & Magic [co-written with Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin]

~ Yirra and her deadly dog Demon and Demon Guards the School Yard [co-written with students from La Perouse Public School]

~ Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937

~ Dhuuluu-Yala (To Talk Straight) – Publishing Aboriginal Literature, and The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature [co-authored with Peter Minter]

~ Not Meeting Mr Right, Avoiding Mr Right, Manhattan Dreaming, Paris Dreaming, Tiddas, Harry’s Secret Matty’s Comeback, and Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms [shortlisted for QLD Literary Awards and longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Prize]

~ The memoir ‘Am I Black Enough for You?’ was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and she was a finalist in the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards [Local Hero] . .

Dr Heiss’ latest historical novel ‘Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray’ – River of Dreams, will be released May 2021.

Reach out to Dr Anita Heiss.

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