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From the Opera House to the Australian Consulate in Chennai, Corporate to local community school events, Gunai Woman Kirli Saunders has had experience speaking across a multitude of stages and settings. She has facilitated workshops for and consulted to large multinational companies, NFPs, Government, educational providers and community orgs. She is an award-winning writer, and artist using her platform to advocate for the environment, gender and racial equality and LGBTIQA+ rights. Kirli Saunders is passionate about enlivening spaces and engaging broad audiences in bold conversations for social impact.


Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai Woman and award-winning multidisciplinary creator and consultant. An experienced speaker and facilitator advocating for the environment, gender and racial equality and LGBTIQA+ rights, Kirli was the NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year (2020).

Kirli’s books, The Incredible Freedom Machines (2018, Scholastic), Kindred (2019, Magabala) and Bindi (2020, Magabala) have been celebrated by the Prime Minister’s, QLD, WA, QLD & Victorian Premier’s Literary, ABIAs, Kate Challis RAKA, Speech Pathology, ABDA and CBCA awards. Her work is published in anthologies and public art. She has 8 forthcoming titles.

Kirli’s solo exhibition, Returning showed at SHAC Gallery in Nov-Dec 2021 and was supported by Australia Council for the Arts. Kirli’s art has been exhibited in Shoalhaven and Wollongong Galleries and commissioned for public art with Google, UOW, NSW Department of Education.

Kirli’s first Solo play, Going Home has been commissioned by Playwriting Australia and will take the stage in 2022. Kirli is a board member for Merrigong Theatre.

Media Release


NSW Aboriginal Woman Of The Year 2020

Returning, solo exhibition SHAC Gallery 2021

Bindi, Winner, Queensland Literary Awards, Children’s Book Award

Bindi, Winner WA Premiers Literary, Daisy Utemorrah Award

Bindi, Winner, 2021 Australian Book Industry Awards, Small Publishers’ Children’s Book Of The Year

Bindi, Winner, 2021 Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards

Bindi, Shortlist, 2021 Australian Book Designers Association Awards

Bindi, Shortlist, 2021 CBCA Awards

Bindi, Shortlist, 2021 Readings Children’s Book Prize

Bindi, Longlist, 2021 Colin Roderick Award

Kindred, Shortlist, 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, Indigenous Writing

Kindred, Shortlisted, 2020 Australian Book Industry Awards, Small Publishers’ Adult Book Of The Year

Kindred, Commended, 2020 Kate Challis RAKA Award

Judge, 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards,

Judge, 2020 Val Vallis Award

The Incredible Freedom Machines, CBCA Notables, 2019

The Incredible Freedom Machines, Shortlisted for Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2019

The Incredible Freedom Machines, Shortlisted Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards – Indigenous Children 2019

Going Home Commissioned by Playwriting Australia 2020

Returning: Poetic Arts Exhibition + Publication supported by Australia Council For the Arts 2020

Shortlisted, Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize 2021

Winner of The University Of Canberra ATSI Poetry Prize 2019

Runner-up, The Nakata Brophy Prize 2018 And 2020

Highly Commended Black&Write 2018

Keynote Speaker, Australian Consulate-General, Chennai 2021

Speaker Australian Reconciliation Conference, 2021

Guest Writer, Australian Embassy, Jakarta & Bali 2019

Keynote Speaker, CBCA Australia AAA conference, 2021

Finalist, Contemporary NOW Arts Prize 2019

Creator, Google Creative Lab Indigenous Story Telling Project 2021

Commissioned Artist, Wollongong Gallery for Here + Now Gallery, 2020

Commissioned Artist, Shoalhaven Gallery for Terra Within, 2020

Dead Horse Gap, co-writer, Merrigong Theatre 2019

Creative Development Scholarship Recipient, Magabala Books 2020

Board Member, Merrigong Theatre 2020-21

Founder, Poetry in First Languages 2018


Tad Souden, 2021, Gundungurra Lands
credit: Maclay Heriot 2021, Gadigal Lands
Gundungurra Lands
credit: Mark Newsham, 2020, Dharawal Lands
credit: Salty Dingo Media 2020, Gadigal Lands