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Winner of the 2021 Daisy Utemorrah Award

We first met Mia in Black Cockatoo, as she navigated her way through culture, Country and familial ties. Dirrarn follows Mia as she finds herself at boarding school and the challenges of living thousands of kilometres away from home, family, and the big sky country she loves. Mia along with her best friend, Naya, negotiate new friends, new ways of thinking and new ways of being in a different world. As Mia wrestles with all that is unfamiliar, she soon must learn to stand in her truth when confronted with unending challenges.

The dirrarn (black cockatoo) is Mia’s totem animal. It provides her with the strength and freedom to stay connected to her world, even when she is a long way from home. It is this totem she draws upon. 

Dirrarn is a sensitive story on the power of place, personality and the honour of standing up for the truth.

About The Author

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Hakea Hustler is an experienced English teacher who has taught around Australia including in remote Aboriginal communities. Hakea is committed to Indigenous education with a particular focus on story as learning and empowerment. Together, Carl and Hakea’s debut novella Black Cockatoo was published by Magabala Books in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Readings Children’s Book of the Year, shortlisted in the CBCA Young Reader category, shortlisted for an ABIA award, selected as a feature text for the 2018 Summer Reading Challenge.

Carl Merrison is a Jaru and Kija man from Halls Creek. Carl works with young Indigenous boys through the Clontarf Academy focusing in improving engagement with education and providing a positive role model. Carl was nominated for Australian of the Year in 2016.

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