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The Last Two Years Explained

If you’re looking for an explanation of Trump or the Nazification of society, you’ve come to the wrong place. This is about the last two years at Dark Matter Zine and my plans for the future.

Trauma at the University of Canberra


In December 2016 I received an offer from the University of Canberra to research representations of albinism in SFF. I’ve wanted to complete a PhD on representations of disability since 2005 so this seemed to be the first step towards achieving this dream. Alas, it was not to be. They ran me ragged, refusing disability access (which is unlawful), leaving my monitor sitting on a slab of polystyrene and me sitting on a broken ergonomic chair while other students received standing desks, monitor arms and new, viable ergonomic chairs.

Staff bullied me and harassed me, on one occasion chasing me for TWO BLOCKS demanding to pray for me and refusing to leave me alone until several people surrounded him and prevented him from following me. Two weeks later this man accosted me in the refectory for round 2, telling me that my threat to call the police if he continued was unfair. He refused to leave me alone the second time until my friend told him to leave. He then waylaid me outside campus security on the concourse a week or two later. I started skipping attending university on Tuesdays because Tuesdays were the days he harassed and stalked me.

Staff refused support that is mandatory under university policy and government KPIs, and refusing this support to a student who is disabled is unlawful at best or an offence at worst.

On 10 May a different staff member assaulted me in the refectory with several CCTV cameras and many witnesses while they pushed me about 20 metres. Apparently the in-house investigation consisted of asking the perpetrator and their friend (but no one else) about the assault while destroying the CCTV footage without viewing it. Allegedly.

The roller coaster ride comes to an end


I spoke at THREE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC CONFERENCES in 2018 about representations of albinism in various forms. I’m sure I could have done better if I’d had support of staff instead of being bullied and harassed during this time. Academics from other universities urged me to submit abstracts to two other conferences in 2018 but I felt so overwhelmed by the abuse I was suffering at university that I didn’t submit; if I’d submitted I could have spoken at 4 or 5 conferences last year.

Staff suspended me for asking not to be assaulted again.

Staff expelled me for talking about the above.

Staff took me to court for talking about the above.

I intend to send the transcripts of the court proceedings to the DISABILITY ROYAL COMMISSION that ScoMo just announced.

DMZ through this ordeal


Through all of this, for the entire two years, I worried about Dark Matter Zine. There was a voice in the back of my mind nagging me to continue this website, not to neglect this website. I guess I knew what was coming and I knew this, my baby, my IP, is all I’d have at the end.

Early 2018 a friend wanted to start a website, an academic equivalent of DMZ. I said I wouldn’t do it solo but I’d do it with her if she wanted to and would contribute to the workload and costs. We started PhD Peeps in January 2018. She left academia and the city in April/May 2018, leaving me holding the baby after struggling with DMZ, PhDpeeps and escalating disability discrimination. Ironically, after uni suspended me and when I realised they were going to expel me, I started ANOTHER website, Dyshuman, as a substitute for PhDpeeps because it felt fraudulent to represent myself as an academic but I intended to continue my research and disability activism.

Duplication, much? I realised the Venn Diagram of DMZ and Dyshuman had stupidly large overlap so I asked myself WHY OH WHY was I trying to run 2 websites? (DMZ and Dyshuman).

Now the court case is finally OVER [happy dance] I’ve upgraded Dark Matter Zine and backed up then discontinued PhD peeps and Dyshuman websites and social media accounts. I’m honing my focus.

The future


My plan is to continue Dark Matter Zine with more of a focus on minority representations but also including stuff I think is interesting or fun.

I confess to having started DMZ in 2010 with the hope that it would help me connect with people, to build a social network in Melbourne, where I was quite isolated due to my location (out in the distant burbs in the wrong end of town). Now I’m almost as new in a different city [face palm] but I realise that running DMZ is a solo pursuit with the occasional interview of kick-ass creators and attending the occasional event. I’m ok with this. But it changes my interactions with and expectations of the spec fic community, which community caused DMZ to be birthed.

What I’m saying is: I’ve changed. My expectations have changed. My reviews and interviews will be different from here on. I also have my own book to write.

So watch this space. Keep in touch. I’m spending a lot less time on social media and LOVING it, so don’t expect me to see your tweets etc, @ me personally or send an email. I still have to work my way through hundreds of emails but I always start with the most recent, so I should read your email within a few days or, if I have a week off, then within two weeks.



Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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