Leslie Twentyman OAM is a prominent youth outreach worker and community activist. He is one of Victoria's best-known social campaigners on issues from homelessness, drug abuse and prison reform to social welfare.
In 1984 he founded the Les Twentyman foundation, which has grown to become a vital resource to thousands of Australia's youth at-risk each year. Les Twentyman was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1994, and in 2006 was awarded Victorian of the Year.
Robert Hillman is a Melbourne-based writer of fiction and biography. His autobiography, The Boy in the Green Suit, won the Australian National Biography Award for 2005. His 2007 biography, My Life as a Traitor, written with Zarah Ghahramani, appeared in numerous overseas editions and was short-listed for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards in 2008. Hillman has published over 80 titles.
Roland Perry OAM is the author of over 30 books in a wide range of genres including biography, politics, espionage, history, sport and fiction. In 2011, Perry was honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia for his ‘services to literature’. Professor Perry specialises in history, and has authored six bestsellers on the two world wars, including Changi Brownlow, which was shortlisted for the Australian Booksellers Industry Award for non-fiction in 2010.
Katherine Boland was born in the north of England in 1957, emigrating to Australia in 1961, where she grew up on the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria. Katherine left the city in the mid 1970s to live an alternative lifestyle on the Far South Coast of New South Wales for almost three decades.
For the last 15 years, she has been living in Melbourne pursuing a career as an artist. She has exhibited throughout Australia and overseas and has been the recipient of numerous art prizes, grants and scholarships.
Shokoofeh Azar was born in Iran just 7 years before the Islamic revolution. Shokoofeh’s early interest in literature and art developed into a successful career in writing and art in Iran, including 14 years as an independent journalist. Her 'Companion in Writing and Editing Essays' won the prize for The Best Book in Iran in 1997. In 2004, Shokoofeh became the first Iranian woman to backpack and hitchhike along the Silk Road. In 2011, Shokoofeh was forced to leave Iran and was accepted as a political refugee by Australia, and now lives in Perth. The 'Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree' is Azar’s first novel to be translated into English.
Alison Corke is a freelance writer living in Apollo Bay, and an active member of Rural Australians for Refugees. In 2009, concern for the plight of a tiny boat of asylum seekers sunk in the Indian Ocean lead to a pen-friendship with Para, one of the young men on the boat. Their friendship grew, and on his release from detention on Christmas island in 2011, Para moved in with the Corke family. 'The Power of Good People' is the literary collaboration of Allison and Para.
Paheer Para (Paheertharan Pararasasingam) was born in 1978 to an impoverished Tamil family in northern Sri Lanka. He was just five years old when civil war erupted and engulfed the country for nearly three decades. Para was forced to flee his homeland in 2007, boarding a tiny fishing boat bound for Australia. While in detention on Christmas island in 2011 Para began a pen-friendship with Alison Corke, and on his release, Para moved in with the Corke family. He has recently been granted Australian citizenship. 'The Power of Good People' is the literary collaboration of Allison and Para.
John Watt was born in 1936 in Western Australia, and grew up in Perth. His early education was in Catholic schools, culminating in two and a half years in the local seminary. This was followed by studies in Arts at the University of Western Australia, and a PhD in philosophy at the Australian National University.
He co-authored a non-fiction work, The Whitefella Problem, with his late wife Wendy. He now lives south of Perth in Busselton, with his wife, Lesley.
Cheryl Koenig OAM, is a Sydney-based writer and motivational speaker. With Just One Suitcase is her fourth book – the family’s memoir. Her previous publications are Paper Cranes (2008), The Courage to Care (2007) and There's always hope: just alter the dreams (2006). Cheryl was named 2009 NSW Woman of the Year, and in 2014 received the Medal of the Order of Australia, for services to the disability sector.
Julie Szego began her career as a lawyer before she switched to journalism. She spent 12 years at The Age newspaper where she held various roles, including social affairs reporter, senior writer, leader writer and fortnightly columnist. During her time at the paper she wrote a number of highly-acclaimed pieces to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, investigated the cultural divide between the inner-city and the outer suburbs as part of an award-winning series on Melbourne.
Ted Egan was named Territorian of the Year and three years later, was appointed Administrator (the Queen’s representative) of the Northern Territory, an office he held for the next five years. In 2004, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for ‘contributions to the literary heritage of Australia through song and verse’, and was recently listed as one of Australia's National Living Treasures by the National Trust of Australia.
Jill Sanguinetti grew up in the Victorian country town of Kyabram and went to Methodist Ladies’ College, Melbourne, as a boarder from 1958 to 1961. After graduating from the University of Melbourne, she taught for 25 years in schools, community centres, TAFE colleges and at Victoria University, gaining a PhD in Adult Education along the way. Jill divides her time between inner-city Melbourne and a retreat near Marysville; managing life’s ups and downs with the love and support of her partner.
Ann Fogarty was born in Lancashire, England, and graduated as a nursery nurse in 1968. Ann came to Australia in 1970 and settled in Upper Beaconsfield. Caught up in the Ash Wednesday bushfires through Victoria and South Australia, Ann was hit by a massive fireball while protecting her two young daughters from the firestorm and sustained serious burns to 85% of her body. Her daughters escaped without injury.
Ann is one of only a few people to have survived this level of burns.
Anne Crawford’s first love was – and is – words. A journalist and feature writer for many years, she has more recently realised a childhood dream of becoming an author and is writing non-fiction books. Her sixth book came out in February 2015.
Kooshyar Karimi was born in December 1968 in the slums of Tehran, Iran, to a family living in abject poverty. He and his family were granted a political refugee visa to Australia by the UNHCR and is now an Australian citizen, fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, a member of the Australian Society of Cosmetic Medicine, and member of the Skin Cancer Society of Australia and New Zealand. He practises medicine full‐time in New South Wales, and writes in his spare time.
Born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1965, he resides still, married with three children. He is a cardio thoracic and trauma surgeon and has worked in many conflict zones including Israel and Gaza, Albania and Kosovo, and with the Australian Army in East Timor and Afghanistan. He is a member of the International Humanitarian Law Committee of the Australian Red Cross. He currently works full-time as a surgeon in Adelaide and is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide.
Najaf Mazari was born in a small village near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. At the age of 12, he left school and apprenticed himself to a master rugmaker. He fled Afghanistan in 2000, ending up in Woomera Detention Centre. After his release, he settled in Melbourne where he now owns traditional Afghan rug shop. In 2006, his wife and daughter were finally able to join him in Melbourne, and in 2007, he was granted Australian citizenship. Najaf founded a philanthropic fund – the Masawat Development Fund – that supplies health and education aid to remote villages in the mountains outside Mazar-e-Sharif.