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Emerging Writers' Competition
Emerging Writers' Competition


SBS provides a platform for diverse Australian writers as the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition returns for 2021

The competition aims to uncover bold new voices that reflect the diversity of contemporary Australia by inviting aspiring writers to share their stories and have their voices heard.  

Open for entries from 16 August – 16 September 2021, the theme of this year’s competition is ‘Between Two Worlds: stories from diverse Australiawriters ages 18 and over are asked to submit a first-person memoir piece, between 1,000-2,000 words. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 10 November 2021. 

This year’s entries will be judged by Wiradjuri author, Tara June Winch, whose award-winning books include Swallow the Air and The Yield, and Kurdish-Iranian writer/journalist Behrouz Boochani, author of memoir No Friend But the Mountains for which he won the 2019 Victorian Prize for Literature.  

When discussing the competition, Tara June Winch said: “We’d love to see entries from first and second-generation AustraliansWe want to see those new writers and new voices from the diaspora. We just want to hear the whole story of Australia. We want voices from our multicultural Australia. We want First Nations voices, we want these emerging voices that are going to perhaps have the greatest literary careers in Australia, and internationally.”  

Literature is about life. Literature is life,” fellow judge, Behrouz Boochani said. 

I think it is important we hear from people with different perspectives...we need people who have new ideas.” 

He continued: “A good story is a simple story, and simple writing, but with deep layers. 

The competition is an initiative of SBS Voices – SBS’s online platform which champions the work of emerging, diverse writers.  

Marshall Heald, Director of TV and Online Content at SBS, said: “Following the success of the inaugural competition last year, we are excited to once again see what stories we uncover with the return of the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition. Last year, we were overwhelmed by the incredible diversity and depth of the more than 2000 stories submitted. We received intimate, clever, and often emotionally complex stories that reflected life across culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. We read powerful First Nations stories, pieces about sexuality, neurodivergence, disability and a range of lived experiences which make up contemporary Australia. We’re proud to provide a platform to for these unique voices to be heard.” 

The winning submission will be awarded a $5,000 prize to support further development of the writer’s skills and knowledge. There will also be a $3,000 prize awarded for second place and two honourable mentions who will each receive a $1,000 prize. All winners and runners up will have their works published on the SBS Voices website. 

In addition, all entries will be considered for inclusion in an official anthology of the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition, published by Hardie Grant. Approximately 30 entries from this year’s competition will be selected for the anthology, to be published in 2022.  

The official anthology of the 2020 SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition, Roots: Home is Who We Are, is set to be published by Hardie Grant on 28 July 2021. 

The 2021 SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition opens for submissions on Monday 16th August. Further information can be found on the competition website: 


For a PDF version of the media release, click here. 

About the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition

Competition dates: 
Entries are open from 16 August – 16 September 2021. 

How to enter: 
Writers (Australians aged 18+, yet to be published authors of a book) will be asked to submit a first-person memoir piece on the topic of ‘Between two worlds: stories from a diverse Australia’. Go to for more information, and for the competition Terms & Conditions.  

The winner will be awarded $5,000 to support the development of their storytelling. A $3,000 prize will be awarded for second place, and $1,000 each for two honourable mentions. Winners and runners up will be published on the SBS Voices website.

About the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition judges: 

Tara June Winch is a Wiradjuri author, born in Australia in 1983 and based in France. Her first novel, Swallow the Air was critically acclaimed. She was named a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist and has won numerous literary awards for Swallow the Air. A 10th Anniversary edition was published in 2016. In 2008, Tara was mentored by Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka as part of the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Her second book, the story collection After the Carnage was published in 2016. After the Carnage was longlisted for the Victoria Premier’s Literary Award for fiction, shortlisted for the 2017 NSW Premier’s Christina Stead prize for Fiction and the Queensland Literary Award for a collection. She wrote the Indigenous dance documentary, Carriberrie, which screened at the 71st Cannes Film Festival and toured internationally. The Yield won the 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award as well as the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, the People’s Choice Award and Book of the Year at the 2020 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. 

Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist and filmmaker. His memoir No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison was written in secrecy while he was being held in the Manus Island Detention Centre from 2013 to 2019. The book won the 2019 Victorian Prize for Literature.“I think that work was quite…that was exceptional. And I think that was something that I look at it like a mission as a writer to expose a system. For me, it was a mission. And that was quite different because I was writing to survive as well.” Behrouz now resides in Christchurch, New Zealand.  

About SBS Voices 

SBS Voices is an online platform which provides a voice for, and champions, emerging writers from diverse backgrounds in Australia, particularly women. It aims to foster a sense of belonging for all Australians, by celebrating the unique stories of Australia’s emerging writers.  
SBS Voices has a mission of raising the voices of marginalised Australians with a focus on first person, memoir-style content and video. In the past two years, SBS Voices is proud to have published more than 100 new writers, sharing their unique stories and perspectives with all Australians. Many of those writers had never been published before.  


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