at The Wheeler Centre

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia

In her introduction to Growing up Aboriginal in Australia, editor Anita Heiss writes: ‘[These] stories cover country from Nukunu to Noongar, Wiradjuri to Western Arrernte, Ku Ku Yalinji to Kunibidji, Gunditjamara to Gumbaynggirr and many places in between.’

It’s a collection of truly diverse stories – sometimes surprising and funny, often confronting and always illuminating – that paint a rich and detailed picture of what it means to come of age as an Aboriginal Australian. How do the formative experiences of Aboriginal Australians shape their sense of self and their sense of community? And what experiences do Aboriginal kids across the country have in common – whether they’re in the city or the suburbs or in the most remote corners of the continent?

With contributors Celeste Liddle, Zachary Penrith-Puchalski and Sharon Payne, Heiss will host a frank, funny and forthright discussion of formative years and life lessons. Join them as they talk pride, stereotypes and family stories.

This event will be Auslan interpreted.

Paperback will be our bookseller at this event.


This event was live-streamed.

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia


Portrait of Anita Heiss

Anita Heiss

Anita Heiss is the author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women's fiction, poetry, social commentary and travel articles. She is a Lifetime Ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW. Anita was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards. She lives in Brisbane.

Portrait of Zachary Penrith-Puchalski

Zachary Penrith-Puchalski

Zachary Penrith-Puchalski was born in 1990 and is from the Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung tribes. His grandfather, Burnum Burnum, was an Indigenous rights activist best known for planting the Aboriginal flag on the White Cliffs of Dover in England in 1988. Zachary currently lives in Melbourne and studies criminology and psychology at RMIT University, and plans to work in the justice and community services sector.

He has appeared on ABC TV’s You Can’t Ask That and works to support Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ Australians through various organisations, as well as providing workshops on identity for young people.

Portrait of Celeste Liddle

Celeste Liddle

Celeste Liddle is a proud Arrernte woman (traditional owner in Central Australia) who was born in Canberra and has been living in Melbourne for 21 years. She is the current National Indigenous Organiser for the National Tertiary Education Union and also serves on their Women’s Action Committee. Prior to working for the NTEU, Celeste worked for the University of Melbourne and Victorian College of the Arts in Indigenous student support and recruitment and was active on the NTEU branch and division for many years.

Celeste is also a guest columnist for Daily Life and for the Guardian Australia, and blogs personally at

Portrait of Sharon Payne

Sharon Payne

Sharon Payne is a Wonnamutta elder of the Badjula from K’gari (Fraser Island). She grew up in Queensland before moving to Ngunnawal country (Canberra) in 1986 where she still resides. In 1974 Sharon became the first Aboriginal student at the University of Queensland and, since then, has completed a Bachelor of Law and Diploma of Neuroscience. Professionally she has been a senior public servant and CEO of legal services in Darwin and NSW. Currently Sharon is a member of the Galambany Circle Sentencing Court and is working on her PhD thesis on the neuroscience underlying Aboriginal incarceration.


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