The Living Stories Western Sydney Writing Prize is a new creative writing competition providing opportunities for young and emerging voices, a forum for reflection and conversation between communities and insight for audiences both here and well beyond the region to appreciate and begin to understand the rich tapestry that is Western Sydney.

2020 was difficult and with the investment made by the NSW Government through its Arts Restart stimulus package we were able to approach WestLit Libraries to co-present this prize for the very first time. This attracted other support, notably from Australian Catholic University as the sponsor for the 16-18 year old category.

The prize was open to residents of Greater Western Sydney across four age categories: 10-12yrs, 13-15yrs, 16-18yrs and 18+. Entries could be in the form of a poem, short story or personal essay. To support the writers in their creations, in little over a fortnight, we ran 36 creative writing workshops facilitated by 18 writers in libraries across Western Sydney with more online.

The writers were asked to respond to theme Are we here yet? The entries were assessed by 23 judges drawn from each local community, as defined by each of the 13 council districts and Western Sydney writers. The judges arrived at a regional winner and highly commended entry. The winners from each local government area then went to a second round vying to be overall winner and highly commended in each category.

Each of the local adult winners received $300, and each of the local junior winners received $100. Highly commended entrants won $100 (adult) and $50 (junior). The overall adult winner received $1,000 and each of the three overall junior winners received $500. Highly commended entries received $500/$250.

The book showcasing the 67 works that were the winning and highly commended entries from each Council district was to be launched at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on Monday 28th June. Unfortunately we found ourselves in lockdown again to stem the spread of the virulent delta variant of COVID-19. Instead our patrons her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC and Mr Dennis Wilson launched the publication and announced the winning and highly commended entries in an online event.

We would like to thank our patrons, the Governor and Mr Wilson, and our ambassador Bryan Brown AM for their ongoing patronage and support, the writers and community members who facilitated workshops and judged the entries; the librarians and council staff of Western Sydney’s library services who so enthusiastically enabled and ensured that the competition would be a success; Sailor Studio for creating such a beautiful publication; the staff of WestWords, and in particular our producer James Roy; our partners in this endeavour – WestLit libraries, Australian Catholic University and Pepper Money; the NSW Government through Create NSW for the Arts Restart stimulus package assisting the State’s arts sector to recover from 2020; and all the writers who submitted entries. The depth and vibrancy of their contributions reflect the richness that is Western Sydney.

Please enjoy the book!
If you would like a hardcopy please email us on


NB: Entries are listed as Winner/ Highly-commended


10-12 years: Aleena Steny/ Boris Prokhorov
13-15 years: Sofia Saeed/ Fedora Ahmad
16-18 years: Anastasia Reyes/ Linda Camilleri
18+ years: Adam Byatt/ Artelle Lenthall


13-15 years: Lauren Pham/Katie Nguyen
16-18 years: Remy Nguyen/Harry Le
18+ years: Samantha Bun/Ruth Barron

Blue Mountains

10-12 years: Isabella Bridges/Natasha Thompson
16-18 years: Abbie Payne
18+ years: Mark O’Flynn/ Belle Butler


10-12 years: Daisy Spies/Susannah Cody
16-18 years: Alyssa Dunn
18+ years: Lana Immonen/ Libby Hyett


10-12 years: Emily Taylor
18+ years: Michael Di Guglielmo


13-15 years: Cherisa Zhang/Bulat Khaertdinov
16-18 years: Sophina Xu/Simadra Fayyadh
18+ years: Tina Nyfakos/Kavitha Varghese


10-12 years: Sabrina Memon/Eshal Malik
13-15 years: Chalisa Poligadoo/Robyn Briggs
18+ years: Kylie-Ann Mallitt/Ammata Viravong


10-12 years: Amy Jia/Madeleine Li
13-15 years: Annie Ziyi Kong
18+ years: Pete Shmigel/Jasmine Baker


10-12 years: Rigel Pearce Pulido/Arshia Nosher
13-15 years: Fatima Ibrahim
16-18 years: Ropafadzo Whitney Baera
18+ years: James Pearce/Alessandro Balbi


10-12 years: Eliza Hayes/Aarna Gupta
13-15 years: Bronte Pagano/Lea Sumabat
16-18 years: Gabrielle Cant
18+ years: Amina Jansz


10-12 years: Claudia Wong/Lilian Chen
16-18 years: Leo Chau/Radha Srinivas
18+ years: Charnel Rizk/Mozghan Rafiei

The Hills

10-12 years: Dhyey Patel/Cedric Chiu
16-18 years: Munira Tabassum Ahmed/Megan Cheung
18+ years: Finola Methven/Samara Lo