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Open Right

Hanifa Deen

Author, Inspirational Speaker, Social Issues

Hanifa Deen is an award-winning author and social commentator with extensive public speaking experience. Audiences all around Australia, at writers’ festivals, conferences, seminars and debates have heard her speak on a range of topical and literary subjects. Her aim is to inform and entertain.

Where were you born?

When people ask me “Where are you from?”  I smile and tell them I was born in a desert country – and off they go on a wild goose chase: Rajasthan, Morocco, and so on, before I tell them that I was born in Kalgoorlie, WA.

I blame all that desert air for turning me into a ‘maverick’ and a Scheherazade-like spinner of real-life stories.  I have been living in Melbourne for the last 14 years, but still go back to Perth regularly.  But as everyone knows, you may change your State but you never change your footy club, I’m still a mad Eagle’s fan.

What other jobs have you had?

Career-wise it’s a long, long list, starting as: a Primary Teacher, then High School Teacher (in the days when kids did what the teacher told them!).  Since then an enormous leap into the Public Service where I had loads of practice writing ‘Yes Minister’ memos in turgid prose:

  • Hon. Fellow, Asia Institute, University of Melbourne,
  • Writing Consultant, Melbourne Museum
  • Research Consultant & Writer, National Australian Archives
  • Seconded to Bureau Immigration Research, Melbourne
  • Deputy Commissioner, Multicultural & Ethnic Affairs Comm. WA,
  • Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission
  • Director, Community Education with the Victorian Ethnic Affairs Commission

What themes are recurring in your work?

Immigration, multi-culturalism, Social Justice issues, feminist issues, Australian Muslims, the Art of Narrative Non-fiction Writing.

What have been the highlights of your career?

I enjoyed my 5 years on the Board of Directors at SBS.  The award for my first book Caravanserai had me over the moon; and I was ecstatic when my second book, Broken Bangles, was included in the top ten bestsellers list in 1998.  I must also confess to feeling damned good following an ABC TV ‘Hypothetical’ with Geoffrey Robertson when the Sydney Morning Herald reported that I’d nearly ‘clean bowled’ Mr Robertson.

Where have your works been published?

In Australia, the USA and India.

What are you passionate about?

I’m a great believer in women reinventing themselves and admire disobedient women in literature, history and real life. I’m also a dab hand at subverting stereotypes — and passionate about reading and writing creative non-fiction literature.

Haven’t I seen you before?

  • On a Q&A show on ABC TV?
  • At the Melbourne Town Hall Debate: “Australia is a Racist Country”;
  • At Authors’ Festivals: at Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Bendigo, Canberra

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I do like to keep some secrets!  But, in some of my events I include Power Point presentations.

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