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The 10th IPEd Editors Conference will be hosted online on Monday 28 June 2021 to Wednesday 30 June 2021.

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IPEd Strategic Plan July 2020 to June 2023.

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WA publishing spotlight: Magabala Books

by Kiara Cramer

Magabala Books, in Broome, Western Australia, is an independently owned Indigenous corporation. Magabala, Australia’s most rural publishing house, sets itself apart with its cultural projects and not-for-profit scholarships.

Originating in the 1980s during the Aboriginal self-determination movement, Magabala Books’ birth came about during an auspicious meeting at Fitzroy Crossing during the Aboriginal Law and Cultural Festival. Elders held a discussion about protecting the intellectual property of Indigenous storytellers and keeping the stories within the communities. With that intent, Magabala began working with its first author, Merrilee Lands, who went on to become Magabala’s first trainee editor. From then onwards, Magabala quickly established itself as the platform of choice for protecting and promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors.

Magabala Books’ dedication was recognised in 2020 with a successful year of award nominations and wins. In May, the company was named ‘Small Publisher of the Year’ by the Australian Book Industry Awards, which also shortlisted three of Magabala’s titles for various awards. The 2020 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards, the 2020 Indie Book Awards and the 2020 NSW’s Premier’s Literary Awards all shortlisted Magabala authors and books with multiple nominations in some award categories. 

Publisher Rachel Bin Salleh was recognised this year with the Writing WA Literary Lions Medal for her commitment to WA’s literary community. It seems that with each birthday, Magabala Books reaches a new height of literary excellence.

A not-for-profit organisation, Magabala Books raises money towards providing professional development for Indigenous creators through its Indigenous scholarship funds. The scholarships also offer opportunities for Indigenous illustrators, with a potential manuscript publication down the line. The scholarships can be customised, and aim to meet the development needs for each individual creator. 

Magabala Books is also involved in a series of cultural projects aimed at revitalising old stories for newer generations. From recording and developing the stories of Elders, to complete reformats and redesigns of older culturally significant stories, these cultural projects embody the passion that Magabala and its team hold for the Indigenous cultures of Australia.

Not constrained by genre or location, Magabala Books focuses on publishing authentic content that portrays a genuine voice. With a concentrated effort to not buy into cultural stereotypes, Magabala and its editors believe writers of colour or minority groups should not feel the need to cage themselves with writing on trauma or sexuality. With so many diverse voices finding their place with Magabala Books, the team there has become well acquainted with the trauma that often comes with minority groups and their journeys, and how trauma itself can be so widely different. Their publishing platform focuses on returning the power to the individual, and allowing them the control to pursue their inspirations in a safe professional environment.

 

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