GAYLE KENNEDY
CLASS OF 1974

 

We’ve got voices! 
I speak out a lot to bring 
about change because 
you can’t effect change 
by staying silent.

 
Gayle Kennedy is a Wongaiibon woman of the Ngiyaampaa nation of South West NSW. Her writing has won multiple awards including the David Unaipon Award. More recently, Oxford University Press published 11 of her children’s books.‚Äč

An acclaimed author, who has travelled the world since those early days watching the planes, Ms Kennedy realised her dreams when returning from Europe for the first time.

As a child, I used to watch the jet trails of planes flying overhead and wonder about the people on those planes and whether I would ever be up there looking down at the land below. 

A key turning point in my life was the award of a scholarship to Queenwood where I completed my HSC in 1974. Life in Sydney was completely different from where I had grown up but I was welcomed by the teachers and students. I made great friends and am still in touch with the girls I met when I first arrived. From the very first moment I felt completely and utterly at home. Miss Medway was Principal then and she was all about providing a high standard of education for girls – no domestic science or any of those subjects that used to be taught to girls. I loved English and History but I was a bit of a daydreamer. 

Writing is something I just have to do. I can’t stand looking at a blank computer screen. I think a lot and it’s pretty well written in my head. I tell my writing students you just have to let the stories out. 

I love connecting with students and humour is very important. It is very much part of what I write, even in the most serious sections. Sharing laughter makes you feel good. Laughter is up there with music in life.

In addition to writing, I am a campaigner for the rights of people with disabilities. I had polio as a child and spent long periods in hospital. As a wheelchair-user I understand the physical barriers and obstacles that face people with disabilities but too often everyone else gets up to talk for us, which I find very frustrating.

We’ve got voices! I speak out a lot to bring about change because you can’t effect change by staying silent.

I remember the first time I flew back from Europe. I couldn’t concentrate on a movie or book, so I was watching the flight tracking system. I saw the plane fly over my hometown of Hay and I realised: I was up there. I was in the plane that created those jet trails.