Mr Pascoe’s property was burnt and his house threatened by the massive fire that destroyed dozens of homes in Mallacoota and surrounding communities on New Years’ Eve. One of his oldest friends in Mallacoota, third generation timber worker Fred Becker, died in the fires.
The CFA volunteer is also heavily involved in the rebuilding and recovery process for the coastal hamlet where he has lived since the 1970s and where he traces his family’s Aboriginal history.
Since the day of the devastating fires, Mr Pascoe has attended literary events in Tasmania and Sydney. Each time he has returned home exhausted. The organisers of the Perth Festival announced he had decided to cancel all upcoming Australian appearances.
“Bruce has made the difficult decision to scale back his various commitments so he can focus on addressing the damage on his property and assist in the recovery efforts in his local community,’’ his Magabala Books publisher said.
“Bruce sincerely apologies for the inconvenience this may cause. Bruce is grateful for the support he and his local community of Mallacoota have received from across Australia and around the world following the devastating bushfires.”
Mr Pascoe is facing renewed criticism by Andrew Bolt and other conservative commentators of his 2014 bestselling book, which challenges traditional assumptions about nomadic Aboriginal culture and depicts more complex Indigenous societies based on sophisticated agriculture and governance.
More recently, his Aboriginal heritage has been the subject of a bitter public dispute, with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton referring to the Australian Federal Police fraud allegations against Mr Pascoe raised by a prominent Aboriginal businesswoman, Josephine Cashman.
The AFP found Mr Pascoe had no case to answer. Federal indigenous Minister Ken Wyatt this week revealed that Ms Cashman had been removed from her government advisory role.
The Perth Festival announced that all tickets to Bruce Pascoe: A Conversation About Ingenuity, would be refunded.
Chip Le Grand is The Age’s chief reporter. He writes about crime, sport and national affairs, with a particular focus on Melbourne.