Re-introducing me: Carl Merrison

May 9, 2024

I’m Carl Merrison. A Jaru and Gija author from Halls Creek in the Kimberley WA. I am also an experienced Aboriginal Education Officer (AEO) and sports coach.

Growing up in an isolated, remote outback town shaped my life- from my culture, lived experiences, career and my sporting passions.

From running around barefoot on red dirt ovals chasing the footy, walking riverbeds as a child with my old people, hunting for goanna or bush turkey, swimming in crystal clear waterholes, going looking for gold with my friends, or yarning under the most clear night skies you can imagine.

Life as a remote outback First Nations man has had its fair share of joy, opportunity, benefits and success. I have a deep connection to Country, culture and language. A large, strong family and community network. A broad range of skills that I may never had learned in another context. Intergenerational strengths passed down to me from my Elders, older family and community members. A career that brings me purpose and enjoyment. Many stories to tell.

But life as a First Nations man in the outback life also has its challenges, obstacles and trauma as well. The impact of intergenerational trauma due to invasion, colonisation, Stolen Generation and policies. Access to and quality of education in the outback (I’ve seen amazing schools, programs and teachers… and I’ve seen the stark opposite). The access to and quality of healthcare- I live with a disability due to significant childhood injuries impacted by healthcare access. Access to and quality of work opportunities and pathways. Access to and quality of mental health and wellbeing services and facilities. Access to and quality of sports facilities, training and pathways. We live and are impacted daily by the stats in the ‘Closing the Gap’ report.

You see lots of my real life when you read my books: Black Cockatoo (Magabala 2018), Dirrarn (Magabala 2023), Tracks of the Missing (Magabala 2022), My Deadly Boots (Lothian 2022) and Backyard Footy (Lothian 2023). Often light hearted or easily accessible for young people- but that don’t shy away from sharing the realities of outback First Nations peoples.

These are also the lived experiences of the young people I have coached, mentored and taught in remote outback schools. And they are the reason I write books. So they can see themselves ‘mirrored’ in the books. So they can see ‘doors’ to pathways or choices they can make in those that my characters do.

And for readers of different backgrounds and lived experiences- you can see through a ‘window’ into my world, my culture, my landscape. Together, through books, we can help create understanding, empathy, knowledge… and walk together.

I’m also one of the admins for Facebook groups: Teachers in Remote Communities (Past, Present, Future), and First Nations Texts in Libraries and Schools. Spaces co-created to share knowledge, experience, skills, ideas and inspiration. So we all share and grow together.

Over the next few months I will be sharing more emails about my work, past books, future books, and ways to engage with First Nations students and readers. The focus will be about me and my work- rather than the work Hakea and I do together- as it is my book that will be launching in July.

Meanwhile, if you would like to connect more visit:

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