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Representation, Voice and Agency


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Stories have the power to enact change in the real world by reimagining and reframing what’s possible. But the responsibility to create change can’t fall solely only on writers and the stories they tell. Behind the scenes, publishers and agents play a vital role in advocating for better representation in their sector.  

This live-streamed panel discussion brings together publishers and agents from the UK and Australia to consider how the publishing industry can better facilitate access and inclusion. What initiatives already exist? Where are the areas for improvement? And what can individuals and companies working in publishing do, both together and separately, to facilitate necessary change?

This event will feature Crystal Mahey-Morgan, founder of Own it!; Rachel Bin Salleh, publisher at Magabala Books; Emma Paterson, literary agent at Aitken Alexander Associates; and Grace Heifetz, literary agent at Curtis Brown. Hosted by Joy Francis, Executive Director at Words of Colour Productions.

This event will be live-captioned.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves is presented with Spread the Word and the Melbourne City of Literature Office and supported by the UK/Australia Season Patrons Board, the British Council and the Australian Government as part of the UK/Australia Season.


Grace Heifetz

Grace Heifetz grew up between Sydney and the Blue Mountains and has lived in London and San Francisco. Grace returned to Australia in 2002 and began working at Curtis Brown where she worked in a number of roles until mid-2019. In July 2019 she joined forces with fellow literary agent, Gaby Naher, to... Read more

Crystal Mahey-Morgan

Crystal Mahey-Morgan began her career as a freelance journalist at the age of 16 writing for publications such as The  Guardian and The Face Magazine. While still 16, she promoted a series of open mic events which were a fusion of hip hop and more conventional forms of poetry and was a performance... Read more

Emma Paterson

Emma Paterson is an agent at Aitken Alexander Associates. She joined in 2018 after five years at Rogers, Coleridge & White and began her career at The Wylie Agency. She became a member of the Booker Prize Foundation Advisory Committee and was made a Director of the agency in 2020. ... Read more

Rachel Bin Salleh

Rachel Bin Salleh is descended from the Nimunburr and Yawuru peoples of the Kimberley region of WA. Rachel is passionate about Indigenous people telling their stories and started her career in publishing at Magabala Books in the 1990s. In 2014 Rachel became Magabala’s Publisher and in 2018 she wro... Read more

Joy Francis

Joy Francis is Executive Director at Words of Colour Productions, a Creative Development Agency for writers, artists, creatives and entrepreneurs of colour and collaborates with organisations and institutions who are ready to actively commit to systemic transformation programmes that inspire and fac... Read more


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