WestWords is dedicated to creating and sharing the stories of the people, places and cultures that comprise the heart of Western Sydney. WestWords Centre for Writing is based in Parramatta. A guiding philosophy of WestWords is a belief in the power of literature and literacy (written, oral and visual), self-expression and creativity to change lives and the experience of communities. With a strategic focus on children and young people and through a comprehensive program of workshops, residencies, fellowships and support for writers we offer professional opportunities for the growth of distinctive voices.
The quality and impact of what we do has been recognised widely across the arts, education and business community. In the WSABE Awards (Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence)WestWords was the winner of the 2020 and 2021 Excellence in Arts and Culture Awards and our Executive Director, Michael Campbell was received the 2021 Outstanding Business Leader Award.
Michael was also shortlisted for on Pro Bono Australia’s 2021 Impact Awards. The shortlist recognises individuals that have “made an extraordinary impact during a challenging 2020”.
Our Patrons & Ambassadors
WestWords is dedicated to celebrating and championing the stories of the people, places and cultures that comprise the heart of Western Sydney. WestWords Centre for Writing is based in Parramatta. A guiding philosophy of WestWords is a belief in the power of literature and literacy (written, oral and visual), self-expression and creativity to change lives and the experience of communities. With a strategic focus on children and young people and through a comprehensive program of workshops, residencies, fellowships and support for writers we offer professional opportunities for the growth of distinctive voices.
WestWords’ defining principles
- Access: ensuring participation for all young people aged 0 to 24
- Diversity and inclusion: respecting cultural heritage and background as well as recent experience
- Excellence: the hallmark for programming and skill development
- Innovation: in programming to meet young people’s interests and aspirations
- Integrity: our commitment to accountability, transparency, collaboration and strategic thinking.
The principal objective of the Company is to promote and encourage reading, writing and story-making by, and for, children and young people living in Western Sydney and beyond and in so doing to develop and enhance community sustainability through cultural vitality.
The particular objectives of the Company include:
- To develop and present a broad program of activities that promote reading, writing and storytelling by children and young people
- to offer a mix of fee-paying and free programs, and
- to prioritise the inclusion of local professional writers, illustrators and other artists in WestWords programs, and
- to support young and emerging writers, and
- to arrange programs that engage highly experienced writers, illustrators and other artists with schools and community and cultural organisations , and
- to collaborate and partner with other cultural groups having similar objectives, both within Australia and overseas, and
- to develop a range of resources and materials that support literature development capacity in schools, communities and cultural organisations
- to initiate or to participate in projects with other art forms, and
- to participate in community events and partner with local community organisations for the benefit of the community, and
- to influence decisions by the public and private sectors which result in additional financial resources to achieve WestWords’ Objectives
Members of the children’s literature community in New South Wales have campaigned over a long period of time for a children’s literature centre in New South Wales, similar to the resources and services available in Western Australia and Victoria.
The Western Sydney Young People’s Literature Development Project (WestWords) was established in 2007 to address the low level of literature development in Western Sydney. It was an initiative of the NSW Government and Blacktown City Council was invited to host the project in the initial stages. As the Western Sydney Young People’s Literature Development Project, Judith Ridge was its project officer with Libby Gleeson AM chairing its advisory committee.
In 2015 WestWords Pty Ltd came into being and Michael Campbell was appointed its Executive Director. The independent company was initially housed at Information and Cultural Exchange in Parramatta for 2.5 years. In December 2018 we opened the WestWords Centre for Writing in North Parramatta as well as writers’ rooms in Katoomba and Wedderburn (Campbelltown).
During 2020 and 2021 when the COVID pandemic was at its height we left our premises, relocated our office to the Wedderburn Writers’ Retreat with thanks to Campbelltown City Council. As the various lock downs and working remotely came and went we pivoted to provide all our programs digitally and online via our podcast and YouTube channels.
In 2022 as we all returned cautiously to in person and hybrid working environments, and to live programming, we relocated again, opening the WestWords Centre for Writing at 41 Hunter St. just off Parramatta Square in the old 1897 Presbyterian Manse. This relocation and fit out was made possible with the support of the NSW Government through Create Infrastructure.
We continue to offer a wide range of programs to facilitate, create and share the stories of Western Sydney in person, online and hybrid attracting writers and audiences from across the region, nationally and internationally.
WestWords thanks the NSW Government for their support for our relocation and fit out for the WestWords Centre for Writing.