Jolly Read won the Channel 7 Young Filmmakers' Award for Best Script and Best Film in 1975. She began a career in journalism a year later. Her first book, Marksy, was published in 1998. Kangkushot, The Life of Nyamal Lawman Peter Coppin was published in 1999 and short-listed for the 1999 WA Premier's Book Awards. In 2004, her play Yandy won the WA Premier’s Book Award for best script. Jolly has spent 20 years working with Indigenous communities on native title, music and writing/oral history projects. In 2005, she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study Indigenous storytelling and preservation/development of culture and native title issues.
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