What Matters? is an annual writing competition run by our friends at the Whitlam Institute. Inspired by Gough Whitlam’s commitment to involving young people in the shaping of Australia’s future, the competition is open every year to NSW, ACT and Tasmanian school students in years 5 to 12. Responding to the simple question ‘what matters?’, entrants are free to express their views on any matter they care about.

In 2016, an astonishing  3870 students in NSW the ACT and Tasmania entered the competition! And The Whitlam Institute wants to hear from you again this year.

All you have to do is write a 400-600 word opinion piece on what matters to you and why. Submit your entry online at whitlam.org/whatmatters. Closes Friday 11 May 2018.

Parent/guardian/teacher permission is required. One entry per student. All entrants will be granted a certificate of participation.  Visit the website to view winning entries from last year.


Cash prizes:

  • $350 for each category winner
  • $200 for each category runner-up

Winners and runners-up will be invited to celebrate at an awards ceremony. Held at the Whitlam Institute, this is a full day of great activities including a writing workshop. Finalists’ entries will be published in print and online.

Other prizes include:

  • Years 5/6 and 7/8 category winners and runners-up will receive a full-day writing workshop from The Writing Workshop, by award-winning author Bernard Cohen.
  • Year 9/10 category winner will spend a day at ReachOut.com, meeting their team and receiving professional training, with the opportunity to be paid $200 to produce a feature article for the ReachOut.com website.
  • The Year 11/12 category winner will receive a 1 Year Membership to The NSW Writers’ Centre and the opportunity to participate in a one-day writing workshop donated by The NSW Writers’ Centre.

School prize:

  • Schools of the shortlisted entries go into the draw for a chance to host an author at their school thanks to WestWords! The school and visiting author will be announced at the awards ceremony.

Overall winner:

  • The overall competition winner prize includes a day at the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) at Old Parliament House in Canberra — meeting a curator, getting behind the scenes and contributing to MoAD’s programs.


The What Matters? 2016 finalists with Professor Barney Glover,
Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor, Hugh Mackay AO, What Matters? Patron and Professor Peter Shergold AC, Western Sydney University Chancellor.


“For the children of Australia… the answer is to involve the creative energies of our children and our youth in a creative, concerned community”

– Gough Whitlam, 1972