Vale Rosie Scott, writer and human rights supporter

June 3, 2017

Rosie Scott, the well-known writer and human rights supporter, died on May 4, after a long battle with cancer. Born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1948, she was the author of seven books of fiction, beginning with the collection of poetry, Flesh and Blood, in 1984.

In 1988, she published her first novel, Glory Days, which depicted the lives of Auckland social fringe-dwellers. The last of her seven works was Faith Singer, published in 2003, which explored the tumultuous world of the people who dwelt in Sydney's Kings Cross.

In 1987, Rosie moved to Brisbane with her husband, the Australian film director and science writer Danny Vendramini, and their two daughters Josie and Bella. They later transferred to Sydney.

Rosie taught creative writing at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), as well as serving as a mentor to up-and-coming younger writers. She was active in the Sydney writing community, and served on the board and executive of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) for 10 years, being elected its chairperson.

She was also active in Sydney PEN (the international organisation of writers), and was awarded the inaugural Sydney PEN Award in 2006. She was made a permanent honorary member of the ASA Council, and a life-time member of PEN.

Rosie Scott had a longstanding concern for human rights and social justice, which was deeply reflected in her writing and her political commitments. She co-edited two books with Tom Keneally, A Country Too Far (2004), a collection of fiction, poetry, memoir and essays by some of this country's most prominent writers, exploring the inhumane treatment of those seeking asylum in Australia, and Another Country (2014), a Sydney PEN anthology which includes writing by refugees and former asylum seekers.

In 2014, she started the group, We're Better Than This, a broad-based movement against refugee children in detention. 

She also co-founded the group Women for Wik, a group dedicated to reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous people in Australia. In 2015, Rosie co-edited The Intervention, with Anita Heiss, a collection of essays and statements criticising the Howard Coalition government's 2007 Emergency Response into the Northern Territory Aboriginal communities, and its aftermath.

To quote Rosie Scott's own words from the book's introduction: "The Intervention: An Anthology is an extraordinary document — deeply moving, impassioned, spiritual, angry and authoritative — it's essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what lies behind this passionate opposition."

On May 21, a moving and emotional memorial meeting for Rosie Scott was held in Marrickville, Sydney, attended by more than 200 friends, relatives and literary acquaintances of the author.

Members of Rosie's family, close friends and a number of her writing collaborators, including Tom Keneally and Anita Heiss, gave tributes to her life and work.

One speaker captured the essence of Rosie Scott's life-long commitment to combatting social injustice in all its forms, noting Rosie's own statement: "As writers, we have an obligation to shine a light on all that is wrong with the world."

Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Issue