Victorian women you need to know - Evelyn Araluen

Evelyn Araluen is a poet, researcher, and co-editor of Overland Literary Journal. Born and raised on Dharug country, she is a descendant of the Bundjalung Nation.

International Women's Day - Victorian women you need to know

To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke to six incredible Victorian women who #ChooseToChallenge every day.

To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke to six incredible Victorian women who #ChooseToChallenge every day. 

Evelyn Araluen is a poet, researcher, and co-editor of Overland Literary Journal. Born and raised on Dharug country, she is a descendant of the Bundjalung Nation.

Q: This year we’re focusing on women achieving equal futures in a COVID-19 world. Do you think the past year has helped or hindered our work towards gender equality? If yes/no – why?  

A: "The binary of help or hindrance in the complex struggle towards restorative justice for women, particularly women of colour and culture, can compel us to frame things like a global pandemic in simplistic ways.

I was glad that at the start of 2020 we saw a much more widespread acknowledgment of issues we knew would be exacerbated by the pandemic, such as domestic violence and uncompensated labour for childcare and household work and maintenance. But acknowledgment isn’t enough, and unless we radically transform political, cultural, and economic structures in our society every crisis will exacerbate pre-existing inequalities.

Many people were cut off from networks of support and solidarity during the lockdown - refugees remained in mandatory detention, workers continued to be exploited, vulnerable people and queer folk in our communities were still treated with violence and abuse. All of these issues are women’s issues and need to be fought for no matter the conditions." 

Q: Who are the women in your community or circle that inspire you?  

A: "I’m constantly inspired by First Nations women. I’m a writer, and other women writers such as Alison Whittaker, Jeanine Leane, Natalie Harkin, Alexis Wright, Melissa Lucashenko, and the late Aunty Kerry Reed-Gilbert are always inspiring forces for me, as well as queer folk such as Ellen Van Neerven.

I also always stand in the shadow of amazing elders such as Aunty Gloria Matthews." 

Q: This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. In your own life, how are you challenging the status quo, calling out gender bias and inequality?  

A: "I’d like to acknowledge that while I do feel I can actively make choices to resist and challenge oppressive structures in my daily life and work, many women and queer folk cannot.

I have become comfortable with focusing a lot of my work on celebrating and uplifting women and gender-diverse people of colour without feeling a need to apologise for that. It takes getting older and becoming more secure and safe in my own development to exercise that kind of boundary, and I recognise that as a privilege." 

Q: Can you tell us about an empowering moment or achievement you had recently?  

A: "I’m constantly in a process of learning and growing in my feminism and advocacy.

Recently I’ve begun work on a project exploring histories of racism and misogyny in Australian literature. I consider it an achievement to reach this point in my own development as a writer and researcher to be able to approach such a topic with the resources I have." 

Q: In your career and life, how has connecting with other like-minded women helped or shaped you?   

A: "Learning from and sharing with women is a cornerstone of my creative, critical, and organising praxis. I simply wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t have access to so many incredibly supportive and resilient women." 


Evelyn Araluen's widely published criticism, fiction, and poetry has been awarded the Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers, the Judith Wright Poetry Prize, a Wheeler Centre Next Chapter Fellowship, and a Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund grant.

Her new book,  Dropbear , is out now. You can follow Evelyn on Twitter and Instagram .

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