Bios

Below is the biographers of all the panellists, facilitators and performers in alphabetical order.

Amani Haydar is a lawyer, artist and writer. She holds a BA in Communications and Law from the University of Technology, Sydney. Her writing and illustrations have been featured on ABC News Online, SBS Voices, Arab Australian Other and Sweatshop Women. Amani was a finalist in the 2018 Archibald Prize. She received the 2018 Australian Muslim Achievement Award for Creative Artist of the Year. Her debut novel, The Mother Wound, is forthcoming. Review of her latest Book: The Mother Wound
“Haydar’s memoir makes an important contribution to Australian public life in countering this silence and I urge all Australians to buy and read this important book. Beautifully-written, intelligent and passionate, The Mother Wound is profoundly moving in its bravery and breathtakingly astute in its analysis of the operations of race, gender and class. It makes a paradigm-shifting contribution to the genre of life-writing and memoir in Australia.
In the course of reading this book I enthusiastically recommended it to a number of white friends and colleagues. It elicited virtually the same response: ‘oh, that sounds a bit grim’. Why are some things just too unpalatable for white readers? Haydar talks a lot about the lack – in the period following her mother’s death – of the recognition of and adequate ethical responses to her and her sisters’ grief: from her father’s family, the community, the mainstream media and other actors. The book forcefully draws my attention to a significant component of toxic whiteness – its refusal to acknowledge and commemorate the griefs of minoritised peoples and respectfully accord them mainstream space in public culture.”

For more on this book click here.

Dr Mehreen Faruqi is the Greens’ senator for New South Wales. She is a civil and environmental engineer and life-long activist for social and environmental justice. In 2013, she joined the NSW Parliament, becoming the first Muslim woman to sit in an Australian parliament. In 2018, she became Australia’s first Muslim senator. She has been a passionate advocate against racism and misogyny.
Since emigrating from Pakistan in 1992 Mehreen has worked in leadership positions in local government, consulting firms and as an academic in Australia and internationally. This includes her roles as Manager of Environment and Services for Mosman Council, Manager of Natural Resources and Catchments for Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies (UNSW) and an Associate Professor in Business and Sustainability (AGSM, UNSW).
While in NSW parliament, she introduced the first ever bill to decriminalise abortion. Mehreen has been a leading voice in opposition to the greyhound racing industry, privatisation of public transport, and removal of laws that protect native vegetation. Since joining the federal senate in August 2018, Mehreen has been an outspoken advocate for public education, anti-racism, social housing and animal welfare.

Michael Mohammed Ahmad is the founding director of Sweatshop Literacy Movement and editor of After Australia (Affirm Press, 2020). His debut novel, The Tribe (Giramondo, 2014), won the 2015 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of the Year Award. His second novel, The Lebs (Hachette, 2018) won the 2019 NSW Premier’s Multicultural Literary Award and was shortlisted for the 2019 Miles Franklin Award. Mohammed received his Doctorate of Creative Arts from Western Sydney University in 2017. His latest novel is The Other Half of You (Hachette, 2021).

Sara M Saleh is a human rights activist and the daughter of migrants from Palestine, Egypt, and Lebanon, living on Gadigal land. A poet and writer, her pieces have been published in English and Arabic in various national and international outlets and anthologies including Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, Meanjin, Overland Journal, and Rabbit Poetry. She is co-editor of the 2019 anthology Arab, Australian, Other: Stories on Race and Identity. Sara is the first poet to win both the Australian Book Review’s 2021 Peter Porter Poetry Prize and the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize 2020. She is currently developing her first novel Songs For The Dead and The Living as a recipient of the inaugural Affirm Press Mentorship for Sweatshop Western Sydney.

My name is Jihad Yassine. I’m 18 years old and have been writing poetry since I was 15, I published my first book through story factory last year, and my second one is going to be published in December, writing is bringing other people into your mind, so I hope you have a pleasant visit in the torrents of chaos that is the words I create.  

Aboubakr Daqiq is a writer based in Sydney, Australia. He is a Psychology graduate studying a Master of Teaching with a background in Law, English, Arabic and Islamic Studies. Aboubakr is a Muslim Australian of Afghan heritage currently working on his debut novel. 

Connect via Twitter (@abbkrdqq) or follow his work via Instagram (@conduit_mp).

BILAL runs creative writing workshops all across NSW. He works with schools and community groups full-time, at the Story Factory, facilitating and designing workshops to assist young writers to find their voice, and publish their work. He’s also a spoken-word artist. He’s performed at TEDx in Sydney, and has featured at a number of slams. He currently hosts and runs the Bankstown Poetry Slam. 

Annie McCann is an Indonesian-Australian Muslim born and raised in the western suburbs of Sydney, NSW. An avid reader and emerging writer, she created a network of readers in 2009 called Read3r’z Re-Vu connecting diverse readers, writers and bloggers. Annie also emcees events including celebrity and literary panels at conventions Comic Con and Supanova as well as facilitating virtual festivals connecting authors and readers.

Annie has also appeared as a panelist at various diversity panels boosting awareness of the importance of diversity, inclusion and positive Muslim representation in mainstream publishing and pop culture. She has delivered talks to school children and girl guides to motivate children to read widely, write their own stories and breakdown stereotypes and misconceptions of the Muslim community.

This year, Annie is one of Australia Read’s Ambassadors for 2021: championing reading and facilitating a special virtual panel with 3 other ambassadors to spotlight Muslim representation in books.

Recently Annie co-founded The Right Pen Collective (TRPC) a network connecting, supporting and empowering Australian Muslim writers and creators to see more books published by Australian Muslim writers in mainstream publications. This year, TRPC will host Australia’s very first Australian Muslim virtual writers festival showcasing writing talent within the Australian Muslim community with international Muslim authors attending as special guests. Annie will be moderating all panels.

Annie is currently working on her first novel for young readers as a recipient of Penguin Random House’s 2019 Write It! Fellowship. An own voices, urban fantasy for young readers that delves into West Javanese legend, Indonesian culture and family history, while pairing elements of time travel and featuring a culturally diverse group of teens from the Western suburbs of Sydney.

Annie is dedicated and passionate about “bridging the gap” which is why she works tirelessly through her networks to lead by example, shine positivity and connect the wider community.