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Anita Heiss on the value of BFFs

30 October 2017

Anita Heiss

Anita Heiss was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, and is a member of the Wiradjuri Nation of central New South Wales. Heiss’ award-winning published works include the novel Not Meeting Mr Right, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature and the memoir Am I Black Enough For You? Heiss has been a communications advisor for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council, and deputy director of Warawara – Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University. She is a lifetime ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and manages the Epic Good Foundation.

Q. What really matters to you?

“Everything I do in my life, particularly in terms of my writing, is through the lens of an Aboriginal woman. I am a Wiradjuri woman, which means I’m from the Wiradjuri Nation of central New South Wales, one of the largest Aboriginal Nations in Australia. But, I was born and bred on the land of the Gadigal People – Gadigal country is the city of Sydney. As Aboriginal people, we always reflect on the traditional owners of the land in which we find ourselves. So, right now, I’m being interviewed on the land of the Jaggera Peoples in Brisbane.

“If we take family aside, because obviously they matter, what really matters to me are my tiddas. Tidda is an Aboriginal generic word for sisters that is largely used on the east coast. Tiddas are the friends you choose as your sisters, but you can also call your mum, your blood sister or your aunty your tidda as well – young people today call them BFFs!”

Now in our 200th year Westpac is proud to support 200 Women, a storytelling project designed to provoke thought about diversity and equality through the stories of 200 women from around the world.

New Zealand-based publishers Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday travelled the world collecting the stories for 200 Women: Who will change the way you see the world (Chronicle Books, 2017). The women’s portraits were captured by celebrated photographer Kieran E. Scott.

The project is accompanied by an interactive exhibit you can visit at Sydney Opera House Forecourt from October 25 to November 6, 2017, and podcasts to which you can listen.

All the stories in the book belong to the women themselves. Some are confronting, many uplifting, all authentic. And, while we accept that not everyone will agree with all views, we are proud to begin a conversation about a range of issues that are important to women and men alike. 

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