Parents' sacrifice worthwhile

ANITA Heiss lives in Sydney between Long Bay Jail and Malabar sewerage works.

“I live where I grew up, in a triangle of suburbia. I love it and will probably die there.”

However, a person’s location is no barrier to achievement, she says.

“I was very lucky, I had a lot of support from my parents. Academic achievement was important to them because neither had such schooling.

“Mum left school in her early teens and my father came from a farming village in Austria. He left school at 14.

“They were workaholics. Dad worked seven days a week and Mum worked nights at the local drive-in to pay for our education.

“I’ve always wanted to give my parents a return on their hard work and I was really conscious of how many sacrifices they made.

“My father said to me that if you wanted to sweep the streets, you do.

“And I said to the kids at Glendyne, if you think about what makes you happy and you can make a career out of, then work towards that. People will want to help you get there.

“It took me 20 years to get where I am.”

Dr Heiss, a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, is one of Australia’s most prolific and well-known authors of indigenous literature.

Her published works include the historical novel Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937, the poetry collection Token Koori, satirical social commentary Sacred Cows, non-fiction text Dhuuluu-Yala (To Talk Straight) – Publishing Aboriginal Literature, and a children’s book entitled Me and My Mum.

Dr Heiss released three titles in 2007, and two in 2008, with three of the five winning major literary awards.

Her latest book is Manhattan Dreaming. From Manuka to Manhattan – Lauren’s going all the way.

Dr Heiss is currently working as a full-time writer and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Western Sydney attached to the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education.

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