< Back to previous page

Bangladeshi audiences enjoy cultural exchange with Indigenous Australian writers

Posted: 14 March 2023

Bangladesh, APO, Experience, Impact, Inclusion,

In January 2023, the Australian High Commission in Bangladesh hosted two First Nations Australian writers, Yvette Henry Holt and Graham Akhurst, allowing them to share their knowledge and work with attendees of the Dhaka Lit Fest, indigenous Bangladeshi writers, artists, and Australia Awards alumni. Their visit was supported by the Australia Awards through an Australian Professional Opportunity.

Yvette Henry Holt is a multi-award-winning poet, social photographer, editor, publisher and the Chairperson of the First Nations Australia Writers Network, who heralds from the Bidjara, Yiman and Wakaman Nations of Queensland. Graham Akhurst is a writer and lecturer of Indigenous Australian Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney, hailing from the Kokomini of northern Queensland.

During their visit to Bangladesh, Yvette and Graham hosted a workshop titled ‘A conversation with Indigenous Australian Writers’ for Australia Awards alumni. Through the workshop, the pair shared their knowledge of indigeneity and helped the alumni develop skills in writing about indigenous issues and communities in their research and policy work. They made connections with indigenous Bangladeshi writers, artists and Australia Awards alumni, strengthening an understanding between Indigenous Australian and Bangladeshi communities.

Bangladesh’s association of indigenous Australia Awards alumni hosted a networking and cultural event on 6 January 2023.

One workshop participant, Australia Awards alumnus Nitol Chakma from Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum, found that this inclusive session greatly helped him enrich his understanding of the vibrancy and diversity among indigenous cultures across the world.

“Stories are a great medium, when writing a grant report, a research proposal or a policy paper, to convince your audience,” Nitol says. “As I am from an indigenous background, this session has helped me to learn more about [Indigenous Australians] and how we can strengthen indigenous identity and sustainable community development, and respect all the indigenous traditions and wisdom.”

To celebrate the First Nations Australian writers, Bangladesh’s association of indigenous Australia Awards alumni hosted a networking and cultural event on 6 January 2023. Speaking at the event, Dr Sacha Blumen, Acting Deputy High Commissioner, highlighted Australia’s contribution to the education and development of indigenous communities in Bangladesh. The event included indigenous artists from different communities in Bangladesh performing cultural dances to honour the visiting Australian writers. The event provided an opportunity for Yvette and Graham to network with local indigenous artists and the creative industry, and introduced them to other local art forms.

The event hosted by Bangladesh’s association of indigenous Australia Awards alumni featured performances by indigenous Bangladeshi artists from different communities.

Yvette and Graham’s participation at the Dhaka Lit Fest was jointly organised by the University Press Limited. One of the festival sessions called ‘The Dream Time’, was inspired by a term for Indigenous Australians’ stories and beliefs. For this session, Yvette and Graham were joined by indigenous Bangladeshi counterparts: Ilira Dewan (a Chakma activist) and Parag Ritchil (a Garo poet). Sanjeeb Drong from Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum moderated the discussion. The panellists shared their struggles and how they aim to inspire hope and change through their creative work. Yvette also shared her poems at a panel called ‘The Spoken Word’, alongside Owen Sheers, Sarvat Hasin and Kamal Chowdhury. The panel was moderated by Manmay Zafar.