First published 30 March 2021

Earlier this month, QUT welcomed internationally acclaimed playwright and artistic director Wesley Enoch AM to his new position as Indigenous Chair in the Creative Industries.

A substantial donation from philanthropist and QUT alumnus, Dr Greg Creed, allows QUT to establish the Chair.

We took a moment in his busy schedule to ask Wesley some questions about his vision.

Q: How can we increase recognition and acknowledgment of Indigenous voices?

A: Indigenous culture should be part of the national and international conversation around global issues like climate change, healthcare, human rights and more. I will be using my new position to bring it to the table across as many forums as possible.

Our culture is a repository of knowledge on caring for the environment, looking after our waterways, cultural burning, and other Indigenous technologies in land management.

Aged care is another example. In Indigenous culture, older people are ‘Elders of our community’ and that should be the case for everyone no matter their heritage. They are the living libraries of our history and ways of living, not faceless numbers in a profit-making system.

Q: Having been born on Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), how does it feel to be returning to Brisbane?

A: This role allows me to pursue my ambitions On Country. It is important to focus on the next generation and make sure storytelling can flourish.

Poet, political activist, artist and educator, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, was my great aunt and my greatest inspiration. Coming home and carrying on her legacy is an extraordinary opportunity for me to have.

Q: What are some of the current inequities in the creative industries?

A: Indigenous coverage and inclusion within the creative industries is too often seen as discretionary rather than essential. I am concerned with the COVID-19 recovery, financial assistance may not make its way to First Nations creatives.

Yet much has been done to close the gap in the arts. Mystery Road and Total Control were amongst the highest watched TV shows in 2019/20, with key Indigenous talents in front and behind the camera. And last year, Vincent Namatjira made history by becoming the first Aboriginal artist to win the coveted Archibald Prize.

It must start with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture being celebrated in our schools as a lived experience of First Nations students, promoting resilience, creating deeper understanding, building confidence, and valuing the differences of cultural expression.

Find out more about QUT's Indigenous Chair in the Creative Industries on the QUT website.