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EDITING editing aboriginal voices

Editing Aboriginal voices

Editing Aboriginal writing: is it different?

Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or Indigenous?

Australian Aboriginal English

Representing people's voices in print: English words

Representing people's voices in print: language words

Glossing Aboriginal languages

CATE workshop, August 2009

Useful resources for those editing Aboriginal writing

CATE workshop, August 2009

In August 2009 the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies organised the inaugural Cultural Awareness Training for Editors program. AIATSIS funded CATE, which was convened by Aboriginal Studies Press. A copy of the program's final report, prepared by Robyn Sheahan-Bright, is available for download here (X MB pdf). However, I've reproduced its Recommendations:


The aim of CATE was to create better-trained editors of Indigenous materials. The participants and speakers discussed the ideas raised during the program in a Final Forum session facilitated by Rhonda Black. This forum also aimed to discuss other possible initiatives, and a summation of their suggestions follows.

Strategic Development

  • Forum or Working Party of Indigenous publishers to develop cross-industry training ideas in conjunction with key funding bodies, e.g. Australia Council and Australian Publishers Association.

Editorial Training

  • Industry-wide seminar modelled on the CATE 2010 program.
  • Scholarship for Indigenous editors wishing to embark on tertiary editorial training studies.
  • Devote some part of tertiary editing courses to Indigenous editing issues.
  • Internships (for Indigenous and non-Indigenous editors) which allow editors to take short-term placements in more than one Indigenous publishing house, or a mixture of Indigenous and non-Indigenous publishers.
  • Creating a 'wiki' for participants to share style choices, queries and ideas re editing Indigenous works.
  • Guest speakers on editing Indigenous materials to talk at Society of Editors meetings, festivals and as part of publishing companies' in-house training.
  • As non-Indigenous editors can be skilled in working on Indigenous texts, ensure training should meet the needs of both non-Indigenous and Indigenous editors.
  • A 'business model' might be adopted to encourage young Indigenous people to consider a freelance editorial consultancy (or small business) as a valid career option, to be supported by business grant funding.
  • Training to be provided to booksellers re Indigenous writing and its audiences, and placement of books in bookshops.
  • Needs of Indigenous writers

  • Seminar conducted by an editor explaining to a group of Indigenous writers how the editorial process works.
  • Joint retreats for writers and editors (e.g. at Varuna or at a more remote location such as Alice Springs).
  • Mentoring winners of awards such as the David Unaipon Award e.g. via Australian Society of Authors mentorships.
  • Mentoring academics whose work could be developed for publication. (AIATSIS supports the Indigenous Researchers' initiatives and the new Stanner Award [for an unpublished academic work] which will recognise the value of research and facilitate such authors creating publishable manuscripts.)
  • It may be more productive to create training opportunities in film and multimedia in remote communities to facilitate sharing of stories, which may or may not have a print book as an outcome. (Lack of literacy in remote communities is an impediment to involvement in writing and publishing. Many Indigenous youths are more interested in film and multimedia than in text as such.)
  • Sending an editor into a remote community to work both with elders and younger members of the community might facilitate some useful exchanges.
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