Meet the author - Christine Helliwell and Mark Willacy

Listen to the recording of Christine Helliwell and Mark Willacy will be in conversation with Karen Middleton on Writing War, on the Experience ANU SoundCloud channel.

Christine Helliwell and Mark Willacy will be in conversation with Karen Middleton on Writing War, an event to launch the second edition of Christine's book Semut and Mark's Rogue Forceswhich won the 2022 Prime Minister's Literary Awards for Australian History and Non-fiction respectively.

Christine Helliwell is an anthropologist, author and academic, an ANU Emeritus Professor, who has been carrying out research on Borneo's indigenous Dayak peoples - including living with them in their communities for months at a time - for almost 40 years. Her book Semut, which details the crucial Dayak contribution to a secret Australian military operation, Operation Semut, in the final months of WWII in Borneo, took her almost four years to write.

Semut won the PMLA for Australian History and the Les Carlyon Literary Prize 2022, was First Runner-up for the Templer Medal Book Prize (UK) 2022, and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Australian History Prize 2022, the Reid Prize 2022 and the ACT Notable Book Awards. A work of great narrative power that goes directly to the heart of Australia's place in the Southeast Asian region" . PMLA judges.

Mark Willacy, a a journalist for more than 25 years reporting for the ABC from more than 30 countries, is a seven-time Walkley Award winner. In 2020 he was awarded Australia's highest honour in journalism, the Gold Walkley, for exposing alleged Australian SAS war crimes in Afghanistan. His winning Four Corners report 'Killing Field' made headlines around the world and sparked a federal police war crimes investigation

Rogue Forces is the explosive first insiders' story of how some of Australia's revered SAS soldiers crossed the line in Afghanistan, descending from elite warriors to unlawful killers, an account revealing one of the darkest chapters in our country's military history. It was the Winner of the 2022 PMLA for Non-fiction and was shortlisted the for NSW Premier's Literary Award's Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction and long listed for the Australian Political Book of the Year Award. "This is a confronting, but important book". PMLA judges.

Karen Middleton is The Saturday Paper's chief political correspondent and a regular media commentator. Her first book, An Unwinnable War - Australia in Afghanistan was published in 2011 and her second Albanese - Telling it Straight in 2016. A long-time volunteer with refugees, Karen is also deeply committed to indigenous reconciliation and veterans' support. She is a former Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery president and a Churchill fellow. The University of Canberra awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2020.

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event.


Registration is required for this event.

Accessible parking spaces are available around campus should you require them.

To help keep everyone safe, please ensure that you are familiar with, and follow, the advice from ACT Health regarding COVID-19.

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A podcast will be made available after the event.

Symposium by University House Wine bar (Shop 13, 152 University Avenue, Acton, which is just next to the Kambri cultural centre) will now be open for dining after meet the author events. Food and wine details at No bookings necessary.

TEQSA Provider ID: PRV12002 (Australian University) | CRICOS Provider Code: 00120C


Date and Times


Room: Cinema