Dr Dylan Coleman is of Kokatha (Gugatha) First Nation Australian Aboriginal and Greek ancestry. She lectures in Indigenous Health at the University of Adelaide in South Australia after completing her PhD at the same university.
Dr Coleman’s thesis explores Indigenous narrative process and its capacity to recreate stories of trauma and loss as ones of survival and liberation, drawing on a range of theoretical discourses such as: narrative approaches, stand point, literary and critical race and whiteness theories; and including a range of Indigenous public health principles. Her experience is in community engagement within various Indigenous communities throughout Australia, and in South Australia in the area of public health, with a focus on substance misuse and building community capacity and resilience through community controlled approaches to health.
The creative component of Dr Coleman’s PhD work, Mazin Grace, based on her mother’s childhood growing up on Koonibba Mission under oppressive colonial government policies including segregation of the 1940’s and 50’s was written in Aboriginal English and Kokatha language. This work won the Australian David Unaipon Indigenous Literary Award, was longlisted for the Stella Prize, (a prestigious Australian women’s literary award), and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize. Dr Coleman believes writing can be used as a tool of liberation, and writing in one’s own language can challenge oppressive colonial histories through to the present day, while empowering individuals and whole communities.
Dr Coleman is also a political activist and has a keen interest in social justice issues including Aboriginal self-governance.