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The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) has partnered with State Library of Queensland’s black&write! editor internship program, a national program that provides professional development and networking opportunities for First Nations editors.

IPEd has signed a memorandum of understanding for the next three years with State Library to support black&write! Under the partnership, IPEd will provide free membership to black&write! intern editors for the next three years. IPEd welcomed Bianca Valentino in late 2022 and, most recently, Darby Jones and Georgia Anderson as members. This year, IPEd also provided a membership to Nadia Johansen, a black&write! junior editor who started as an editor intern in 2021.

IPEd CEO Karen Lee said that IPEd was proud to support the development of First Nations editors, who are under-represented in the Australian publishing industry. According to the Australian Publishing Industry Workforce Survey, less than 1% of people working in Australian publishing identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. 

“IPEd is thrilled to support our newest editors in their professional development journey,” Lee said.

“Representation is important in the publishing industry, because stories and books influence our collective thinking, culture, education and society. Each publishing professional has a role to play in the finished products that hit our shelves and online stores. Therefore, we are pleased to play a role in black&write!’s program to develop First Nations editors and help contribute to representation in the publishing industry and books in the public domain.”

State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald AM said State Library was committed to respectful processes of truth-telling through programs like black&write!

“Having a First Nations-led writing and editorial practice influences positive change in Australia’s literary scene. For the past 12 years, we’ve introduced the world to new and exciting First Nations writers and editors who can tell their own stories, their own truths. Working with IPEd allows us to provide even more opportunities to support the next generation of First Nations editors.”

A Kamilaroi man who spent the first 17 years of his life on Kamilaroi Country in St George, south-west Queensland, Darby Jones is undertaking an arts degree at University of Queensland, with a major in writing and a minor in English literature and anthropology. Jones said there were similarities between his previous career as a hairdresser and that of an editor.

“Working around words all day long is a dream, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover similarities between my previous career and my current one,” Jones said. “Much like a hairdresser and their client, the relationship between an editor and their writer is one built upon vulnerability and trust. A client entrusts their hair to their hairdresser in the same way a writer entrusts their words to their editor.”

Jones said the lack of representation of First Nations individuals in the publishing industry made it very difficult for First Nations writers, who were typically required to educate their non-Indigenous editors on the cultural nuances and content within their work.

“Working with a First Nations editor negates this kind of emotional labour,” he said. “black&write! has been addressing the under-representation of First Nations people within Australian publishing and supporting First Nations writers to tell their stories their way, which is why it is a vital organisation within the industry.”

Georgia Anderson is a Torres Strait Islander woman from Boigu Island and the Umu Mere and Umai Lag clans, who grew up in the Hunter Valley of NSW and moved to Meanjin/Brisbane in December of 2019. She is undertaking a Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology) and Law at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). 

“I believe in the black&write! project; I believe in the impact it has in amplifying First Nations voices into the wider world of reading,” Anderson said. “Storytelling is a pillar of our culture, and it is imperative to the continuation of our culture that we share our stories.” 

Nadia Johansen is a Gunggari person from Mitchell in south-west Queensland who has lived most of her life in Meanjin/Brisbane. She studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at QUT and has been with black&write! for about two years, starting as an Editor Intern, then moving into a Junior Editor role. 

“I’ve learned so much about editing hands on and working with authors, that you just can’t learn in a classroom,” she said. “Grace and the amazing black&write! team have nurtured me to develop my own style as an editor, grounded in First Nations cultural practice and values.”

black&write! editor interns and junior editors work under the supervision of Senior Editor Grace Lucas-Pennington. Together, they develop the manuscripts submitted by the winners of the annual black&write! Writing Fellowship. This year’s winning fellows were announced at kuril dhagun, State Library of Queensland on Tuesday 30 May 2023.

black&write! is an initiative of State Library of Queensland supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and publishing partner, Hachette Australia. 


Photo caption: black&write!’s junior editors and editor interns with IPEd CEO Karen Lee. From left to right – Nadia Johansen (junior editor), Georgia Anderson (editor intern), Karen Lee (IPEd CEO), Bianca Valentino (junior editor) and Darby Jones (editor intern).