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University brings a Green, a chef, and budding bloggers and filmmakers to Writers' Festival


Sharlene King
1 August 2012
Former Greens leader Bob Brown will give the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival keynote address in the SCU Marquee, while head chef turned Southern Cross University lecturer Jim Hearn will dissect his memoir High Season when the annual literary event starts this week (August 3 to 5).

The SCU Marquee will host around 20 sessions across the three-day event. A highlight is retired Greens senator Bob Brown who will reflect on his challenges and achievements as an environmentalist and politician while discussing his future plans outside the parliament.

• 'Bashed, sued, celebrated, revered’, Bob Brown in conversation with ABC presenter Kerry O’Brien, SCU Marquee, Friday August 3, 10.15–11.15am

Join the Twitter conversation from the SCU Marquee using the hashtag #BBWF12

Jim Hearn, a Southern Cross University Arts (Honours) graduate who now teaches writing and cultural studies at the Lismore campus, has just released his tell-all memoir High Season about the less-than-glamorous life inside restaurant kitchens. After two decades working as a chef, Jim Hearn came to academia in 2006 as a mature age student wanting to formalise his experiences as a scriptwriter and gain a qualification to launch a new career.

Jim is participating in three sessions:

• 'So you want to be an author?’, Schools Day, August 2 (not open to the public)
• ‘Raw Nerves: Should some topics be off-limits’, with Paul Carter, Tony Cavanaugh and Jim Hearn; Chair: Simon Marnie, Macquarie Marquee, Friday August 3, 9.15-10.15am,
• 'Cooking your way to Salvation’, with Jim Hearn and Wayne Macauley; Chair: Michaela McGuire, Blue Marquee, Sunday August 5, 12.00–1.00pm

“I have enjoyed going to the last couple of Byron Bay Writers' Festivals as a participant, and can’t quite believe that I’ll be up the front with a speaking part this year,” said Jim, a first time panellist.

“It’s been a lot of fun communicating with the various writers on my three panels in the weeks leading up to the Festival. They’re an awesome bunch of writers and I’m stoked that my book has been thrown into the mix.”

Burmese writer Michelle Aung Thin will be discussing her first novel, The Monsoon Bride, with University senior creative writing lecturer Dr Janie Conway-Herron. Dr Conway-Herron has been running writing workshops for Burmese refugee women on the Thai-Burma border since 2004.

Dr Conway-Herron said The Monsoon Bride was a wonderful novel.

“Set in Burma in the 1930s it describes a world that is an historical foundation for the Burma we have today. I’m really looking forward to talking to Michelle about Burma then and now, she is a marvellous writer and a keen observer of people and culture.”

• 'Burma, then and now’, Michelle Aung Thin talks to Dr Janie Conway-Herron, Blue Marquee, Saturday August 4, 11.15am-12.15pm

Southern Cross University Associate Lecturer in media, Jeanti St Clair, will be chairing a panel of female writers discussing virtual writing and publishing.

• 'Wireless women: Writing in cyberspace’ with Haylee Kerans, Virginia Murdoch and Marieke Hardy, chair Jeanti St Clair, ABC3 Marquee, Saturday August 4, 4.15-5.15pm

The Byron Bay Writers’ Festival is a highlight for a select group of high-achieving senior high school students taking part in a three-day residential called Head-Start EXCELerate. The University has invited 30 students from Coffs Harbour to the Gold Coast, including current SCU Head-Start students, to take part. Head-Start students undertake a unit of university study while at secondary school and this group of students undertook a communications unit earlier this year.

The program includes a private session with Anna Rose, co-founder and chair of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, at the Festival’s Schools Day (Thursday, August 2) and a range of specialised academic workshops and University experiences at the Lismore campus (Friday, August 3).

Danielle Fisher, project officer for SCU Head-Start, said the residential school was designed to give exceptional students a competitive edge in their Year 12 studies, with a significant portion of the content linked to the senior school syllabus.

“Head-Start EXCELerate has been created as an extension of the Head-Start program and enables these students to further develop their passion for knowledge and intellectual pursuits,” she said.

The Byron Bay Writers’ Festival also provides an ideal opportunity for Southern Cross University students to gain practical, on the job experience.

Several media students from the School of Arts and Socials Sciences will be filming sessions in the SCU Marquee exclusively for the Festival organisers. Another group of writing and media students will be blogging from sessions across the entire event to complement the work of Marian Edmunds, the official BBWF blogger.

The BBWF blog is

Ms St Clair is the supervising editor for the SCU blogging team will mentor the students as they write stories, take photographs, record live audio and interview the writers.

“I am really excited that some of our external (off campus) students are part of the blogging team. Usually they interact in a virtual world so the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival provides them with an opportunity to engage in face to face teamwork,” Ms St Clair said.

Festival-goers can time out and unwind with a gentle, 20 minute body work session from students of the School of Health and Human Sciences, located at the SCU Osteopathy Tent.

“The Writers’ Festival is a wonderful way to show the community the range of treatments available from the dedicated osteopathy students based in the SCU Clinic at the Lismore campus,” said Samantha Hamilton, a 4th year Master of Osteopathic Medicine student.

The body work sessions are free of charge, however appointments need to be made at the SCU Osteopathy Tent each day.
Photo: Former Greens senator Bob Brown will deliver the keynote address in the SCU Marquee.