Discover inspiring stories with Southern Cross at the Byron Writers Festival

Published 3 August 2018
Byron Writers Festival

Southern Cross University is bringing creativity, social conscience and intellectual rigour to the 2018 Byron Writers Festival, with alumni and academics joining the line-up of 140 writers and thinkers in conversations this weekend.

Out of the Forest front cover
'Out of the Forest' by Dr Gregory P Smith.

Writer Jessie Cole will discuss her latest work, Staying – A Memoir, about surviving the suicide of a family member and finding a place to heal. It’s the third published work from the Southern Cross Arts with Honours graduate, after previously releasing the fictions Darkness on the Edge of Town (shortlisted for the 2013 ALS Gold Medal) and Deeper Water.

Social science academic Dr Gregory P Smith’s remarkable tale of resilience – from institutional child abuse to homelessness and living alone in the bush for a decade – so moved and enthralled listeners to the ABC’s Conversations with Richard Fidler program two years ago he was pursued by Penguin Australia to write a book, Out of the Forest. Dr Smith completed his social science undergraduate and PhD degrees with Southern Cross as a mature-aged student where he now teaches.

Emerging writer and Arts with Honours graduate Emily Brugman joins the panel, ‘Short Stories: The Sting in the Tail’ on Sunday. Emily is working on a collection of interconnected short stories about her grandfather and other members of the small Finnish migrant community who worked as fishermen on the Houtman Abrolhos archipelago 60km off Geraldton in the 1950s and sixties. The short stories initially formed her Honours research.

“Festival director Edwina Johnson thought it would be good to get the perspective of an emerging writer on that panel. It’s going to be a really cool experience. I’m a bit nervous but excited as well,” said Emily who has been writing a regular column for the surfing magazine Tracks for the past few years.

Earlier this year she secured a permanent role as BWF Festival Administrator.

“Working here is great for my writing because I’m immersed in the conversation of literature and it’s really inspiring finding out about new authors and new books,” Emily said.

For contemporary music alumus Dominic Kingsford, a creative response to the memory of war and the Anzac legacy led him to develop a solo electric bass composition called ‘With intention’, which he will perform as part of the ‘Stories of Then and Now: Anzac Project Winners’ session on Sunday. Watch Dominic talk about the creative process.

Professor Adam Shoemaker, one of Australia’s leading researchers in Indigenous literature and Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor, will be moderating two discussions at the Byron Writers Festival.

“The Regional Australia Institute recently named Byron Bay as the most creative regional hotspot in the country. As the region’s very own university and a longtime supporter of the Byron Writers Festival, Southern Cross is proud of our writing graduates, as well as our visual arts and music alumni, who are contributing their talents to the creative economy,” Professor Shoemaker said.

Also moderating sessions are the University’s cultural legal scholar Professor William MacNeil, Dean of the School of Law and Justice, and Dr Lynda Hawryluk, creative writing course coordinator in the School of Art and Social Sciences.

The Southern Cross University Marquee will host 19 sessions featuring a range of writers and thinkers, including Tanya Plibersek, Tim Rogers, Lemn Sissay and Gillian Triggs.

Follow the Byron Writers Festival Blog to keep up to date with conversations and action across the weekend. The blog content is created by the University’s creative writing, arts and digital media students, and edited by journalism lecturer Jeanti St Clair. The Southern Cross University Student Reporting Team has been an integral part of the Festival since 2011, working from the Festival frontline to produce stories and session reviews, photographs and tweets. The Student Reporting Team are based in the onsite newsroom, which is solar-powered by the SCU Sunflower, next to the Southern Cross University Marquee. Find the Byron Writers Festival blog at

Festivalgoers inspired by the engaging stories and ideas can realise their own storytelling passions by enrolling in one of the many courses available through Southern Cross University.

The postgraduate Graduate Diploma of Creative Writing, taught online part-time over two years, is designed to develop writing across a range of genres with specific feedback from professional writers and the opportunity to undertake an extended writing project, with a concentration on publishing, editing and practical career opportunities.

Aspiring writers can study the two-year Associate Degree of Creative Writing at the Lismore campus or online; graduates can choose to study for another year to complete a Bachelor of Arts.

The popular four-year combined degree year Bachelor of Laws and Creative Writing enables students to gain fluency in written and oral expression, complemented by intellectual rigor, providing graduates with clear professional pathways as both legal and writing practitioners.


Media contact: Sharlene King 0429 661 349 or