Last weekend the judges for the various local government areas had their work cut out as they completed their judging of entries in the inaugural WestWords-WestLit Living Stories Western Sydney Writing Prize. But they came through for us, and after careful collation of scores and some discussion, we are thrilled to announce the winning and highly-commended entries for the participating LGAs, across four age categories.
(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+: Adam Byatt / Artelle Lenthall


Blue Mountains 

10-12 years: Isabella Bridges / Natasha Thompson

16-18 years: Abbie Payne

18+: Mark O’Flynn / Belle Butler



10-12 years: Emily Taylor

18+: Michael Di Guglielmo



10-12 years: Sabrina Memon / Eshal Malik

13-15 years: Chalisa Poligadoo / Robyn Briggs

18+: Kylie-Ann Mallitt / Ammata Viravong



10-12 years: Rigel Pearce Pulido / Arshia Nosher

13-15 years: Fatima Ibrahim

16-18 years: Ropafadzo Whitney Baera

18+: James Pearce / Alessandro Balbi



10-12 years: Claudia Wong / Lilian Chen

16-18 years: Leo Chau / Radha Srinivas

18+: Charnel Rizk / Mozghan Rafiei



13-15 years: Lauren Pham / Katie Nguyen

16-18 years: Remy Nguyen / Harry Le

18+: Samantha Bun / Ruth Barron



10-12 years: Daisy Spies / Susannah Cody

16-18 years: Alyssa Dunn

18+: Lana Immonen / Libby Hyett



13-15 years: Cherisa Zhang / Bulat Khaertdinov

16-18 years: Sophina Xu / Simadra Fayyadh

18+: Tina Nyfakos / Kavitha Varghese



10-12 years: Amy Jia / Madeleine Li

13-15 years: Annie Ziyi Kong

18+: Pete Shmigel / Jasmine Baker



10-12 years: Eliza Hayes / Aarna Gupta

13-15 years: Bronte Pagano / Lea Sumabat

16-18 years: Gabrielle Cant

18+: Amina Jansz


The Hills 

10-12 years: Dhyey Patel / Cedric Chiu

16-18 years: Munira Tabassum Ahmed / Megan Cheung

18+: Finola Methven / Samara Lo

Each of the local adult winners will receive $300, and each of the local junior winners will receive $100. Highly-commended entrants will win $100 (adult) and $50 (junior).
The winning entries in each category will go on to the main round, to be assessed by a panel of writers and community leaders, with the results announced on 28th June 2021 by the NSW Governor, Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC who, with her husband Dennis Wilson, is a patron of WestWords. The overall adult winner will receive $1000 and each of the three overall junior winners will receive $500. Highly-commended entries will receive $500/$250.
The pieces listed above will be published on our website, and in a hard copy book.
The assessment criteria were:
1. Originality and creativity
2. Construction and use of language
3. Engagement with the stated theme; “ARE WE HERE YET?”
The approaches were many and varied. We received a lot of prose, a few poems, and a couple of entries that could be called either. The most interesting aspect was the third criterion – working out how best to deal with the theme prompt. As you’ll see when you finally get to read the entries, the way the different writers responded to the theme was incredibly broad, which we feel is a positive sign. It means that writers are thinking, considering and processing how their own experience intersects with the ideas of place and identity, both communal and personal.
WestWords and WestLit would like to thank the library and council staff who, on a short turnaround, helped publicise, promote and facilitate this competition. Thank you too to the various libraries who agreed to host the 35 free creative writing workshops that were held across Western Sydney over a little more than a fortnight. Of course, we also wish to thank the writers who presented those workshops, and the many, many other writers, young and old, who attended them. We don’t want to forget the writers who created the online workshops, which can still be found on the WestWordsOFFICIAL YouTube channel.
The judges deserve an enormous debt of gratitude. They read these entries in their lunch breaks, or before they went to bed, or whenever they could snatch a spare moment. We couldn’t do this without you.
And finally, thank you to everyone who entered – who bunched up their courage to put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard, to show their work to the world. It takes real guts to send your words to strangers to  be literally judged. We hope that having done it, you will find the confidence to keep doing it.