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7 – 14 July 2024
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Graham Akhurst

National NAIDOC Creative Talent Award Category
Graham Akhurst


Mr Graham Akhurst is a Kokomini man hailing from Northern Queensland. Graham is a rising star in the world of literature and academics, who is working to bring international attention to the work of Indigenous Australian writers.

Graham is currently a Senior Lecturer in Australian Indigenous Studies and Creative Writing and the Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledge’s (CAIK) at UTS. He is also on the board of the First Nations Australian Writers Network (FNAWN), Varuna: The National Writing House, and The Sydney Review of Books.

In 2023 Graham released his debut novel Borderland, a gothic horror novel that follows a young Indigenous man on a journey of self-discovery in rural Australia. Graham’s novel renders the complexities surrounding identity development for urban Indigenous youths, the intergenerational trauma passed on in families of the stolen generation, the complexities around the interface of government and mining in rural communities, and the challenges that face young people when they wish to uncover the truth of their cultural backgrounds in a world in climate crisis. Borderland has received critical acclaim since its release including being a ‘notable’ book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards and a finalist in the Aurealis Awards.

Graham began his writing journey in a hospital bed in 2011, where he read and started journaling between treatments for Endemic Burkett Lymphoma. Graham has steadily published in leading literature journals since 2015.

Graham has received multiple scholarships, and was the first Indigenous Australian recipient of the W.G. Walker Fulbright Scholarship awarded to the highest-ranking postgraduate applicant Australia wide. He has completed an MFA in Fiction at Hunter College CUNY, an MPhil in Creative Writing at The University of Queensland (UQ), and a BA Honours 1A in Creative Writing at UQ where he was also Valedictorian of his graduating year. Graham’s international reputation is also confirmed by his outstanding success in having had two stories nominated for one of the most prestigious annual American literary awards, the Pushcart Prize, in 2022.  Graham is working to increase the visibility of First Nations authors, and was integral in the American Australian Association’s (AAA) partnership with FNAWN and the establishment of the First Nations Australia Writers Network Writer in Residence USA Fellowship which will provide an Indigenous Australian writer a $40,000 US dollar stipend and a workspace at Boston University and the Manhattan office of AAA to further develop literary connections between Australia and the USA. The inaugural recipient will be announced later this year.

Graham is an incredibly talented, highly distinguished author whose work is demonstrating the creativity of First Nations Australians to the world.   

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