Award winning Indigenous author speaks at Notre Dame

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Fall 4-5-2012

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



Multiple Miles Franklin Literary Award winning Indigenous author, Kim Scott, discussed the role of language in developing and exploring relationships between people of different cultures with guests at Notre Dame’s Fremantle Campus recently.

Scott spoke of the background and inspiration behind his recent publication That Deadman Dance to community members and Notre Dame’s Study Abroad students from the United States of America.

The event was hosted by the College of St Benedict (CSB) and St John’s University (SJU), Minnesota, with support from Notre Dame’s Study Abroad Office.

The students had been studying That Deadman Dance to further their understanding of Australia’s diverse and continually evolving culture.

The book explores the first contact between the Noongar people, European settlers and American whalers in a 19th century setting in the Great Southern region of Western Australia.

It follows the story of young Noongar man, Bobby Wabalanginy, and decisions that lay before him which could have potentially affected not only the lives of his ancestors, but the lives of his new-found settler friends in Australia.

Study Abroad Director from CSB and SJU, Janelle Hinchley, said the Study Abroad students responded well to the issues presented in the novel surrounding cultural diversity in Australia.

“He challenged our students to look at the layered dynamics involved in these early cultural exchanges and the propensity that the Aboriginal people had in the facilitation of multiculturalism in Australia,” Ms Hinchley said.

Study Abroad student Christine Schneider said That Deadman Dance provided her with an artistic outlook of the Aboriginal heritage in WA.

“After hearing Kim Scott speak, I realised how poetic and insightful he is which lent itself to the discovery of all the hidden meanings within his novel,” Ms Schneider said.

“It was a great example of being able to take written work and further develop our understanding of its impact on our lives.”

That Deadman Dance won several awards in 2011, including the Miles Franklin Literary Award for the best Australian novel or play which portrays the beauty, challenges and characteristics of Australian life. The novel also collected the Premier’s Prize and the Best Fiction Book prize at the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards.

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