Writers on the Road: The winter program

These winter holidays we are packing our bags and going west!

The Holiday Break Program is designed to provide regional young people (12–24 years old) with access to recreational and social activities that are responsive, free, and local, so their creativity, imagination, self-confidence, and self-efficacy is enhanced, as well as their physical, social, cognitive and emotional development skills. 

Over the school holidays from Winter 2022 to Summer 2023 we are providing young and emerging writers in Orange and Broken Hill with creative writing workshops. Further to theses series of workshops we are providing in term opportunities for these young writers to access to our wider activities through our online Creative Kids eligible after-school writing classes, writing groups and online resources. Publications and podcasts will be developed out of the programs to showcase and share their work.

Below are details of the workshops on offer. If you would like to participate please contact WestWords on admin@westwords.com.au

The WestWords Writers on the Road are part of the Holiday Break program supported by the Office for Regional Youth in partnership with Create NSW.

In Orange
Two writers, 16-24 participants aged between 12 to 18 will undertake free creative writing workshops over three days in person in Orange in regional NSW during the first week of the July School Holidays. These young people will be developing their writing, editing, interviewing skills with award-winning writer James Roy and Charmaine Ledden-Lewis.

Dates: 6th, 7th 8th July
Where: 42 Dalton St, Orange NSW 2800

Presented in partnership with Orange Aboriginal Lands Council.

In Broken Hill
Two cohorts – young people aged 12-15 looking to engage their creative spark, and older teens with a love for all things science-fiction and fantasy – will have the opportunity to learn from two industry professionals, Ben Peek, a speculative-fiction author, and Claudia Chinyere Akole, a graphic artist & writer, to develop their storytelling skills, explore quest and journey themes, pen their ideas and creations, and ultimately boost their confidence to do so.

Headspace Broken Hill, one of the hosting venues for the workshops, have highlighted the therapeutic benefits of creative writing for these cohorts, as it allows participants to explore subject matters pertinent to them and their experience, in a creative and fun way.

Ben Peek is a critically acclaimed speculative fiction writer, best known for his works, The Godless and Leviathan’s Blood. Peek’s short stories have been published in a variety of genre magazines, including Fantasy Magazine and Aurealis. He holds a doctorate in literature and splits his time between teaching and writing.

Claudia Chinyere Akole is an exhibiting artist, illustrator, cartoonist, designer and animator. Claudia has taught design, comics, and animation workshops at various levels including high school, university, and professional settings. She’s taught comic-making workshops to high school students from migrant and refugee backgrounds through the NSW organization STARTTS.

Dates: 13th ,14th 15th July
Where: Headspace: 231 Blende St, Broken Hill NSW 2880
Big Sky Stories: Shop 3, 360 Argent St Broken Hill NSW 2880 www.bigskystories.org.au


Presented in partnership with
NSW Government through Create NSW and Office for Regional Youth, Orange Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) and the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service.


We here at WestWords are incredibly excited to announce the regional winners and highly commended entries from the 14 participating LGAs in this year’s Living Stories Western Sydney Writing Prize.

Over 40 writing workshops were delivered in conjunction with WestLit libraries, after which WestWords welcomed 500-word entries; poems, short stories or personal essays; from entrants 10 years and older, based on the theme: Things Unsaid. Judges from each local community were brought together to select the regional winners and highly commended for each category.

SHORT STORY or POEM. 10 – 12 years; 13 – 15 years; 16 – 18 years; and adults (18+).

Each regional winner & highly commended entry receives a cash prize – as well as the publication of their work in the upcoming Things Unsaid book!

Total prize pool of over $10,000
Regional (awarded in each participating LGA)
Winners: Adult – $300, Junior categories – $100
Highly Commended: Adult – $100 cash, Junior categories $50

Click on the suburb to see the winners and highly commendeds!


The winners from each LGA now go on to compete for the overall winner’s prizes.

Winner: Adult – $1,000, Junior categories – $500
Highly Commended: Adult – $500, Junior categories – $250

Join us on Monday 18th July, 10.30am at the Parramatta Chamber of Commerce (35 Smith St, Parramatta NSW 2150) for the official launch of the Living Stories Things Unsaid publication, and the announcement of the overall winners. All regional winners and highly commended recipients are encouraged to be there! RSVP HERE.

Thank you to all the participating library services, and our sponsor for the 10-12 ages Booktopia, and our sponsor for the 16-18+ ages Australian Catholic University.


today, tomorrow, forever
being rohingya
by Pan Sandar Myint, Abdullah, A.S Junike and Yasor 

“These poems, as harrowing as they are beautiful, invite us to open our eyes while opening our hearts.” Critically Acclaimed writer ali whitelock 

In mid 2021 Michael Campbell, WestWords Executive Director  was introduced to Pan Sandar Myinit a young Rohingyan woman living in Canterbury-Bankstown who was collaborating on a poetry collection with 3 young Rohingyan men living in the world’s largest refugee camps in Coxs Bazaar, Bangladesh. With our support they worked with critically acclaimed poet ali whitelock to produce a powerful collection of poetry and photography to create a nuanced conversation and story of tragedy, hope resilience and the beauty of the human spirit. 

For more information, to preview and buy the book please click here

Transforming Silence: What are the words?

Transforming Silence is the second anthology from WestWords’ LGBTQIA+ writing group. WestWords LGBTQIA+ writing group meets every second Wednesday, 6:30 pm.
We are currently in-person and via Zoom (hybrid). 

I have heard from group members of their silences and that, in hindsight, the group has, every fortnight from February to December 2021, provided a possibility to chip or dissolve away those silences. For some of the group their creative practice was in its infancy, while others had and have a surer footing. Even so all were challenged. There were missteps, dropouts and creative pieces that were eventually pulled from the jaws of their personal silences. There was a profound opportunity outside of group meetings to share their work when it was in its infancy. These were valuable moments for those who have chosen this creative route of peril and eventual triumph in most instances. Thank you to those in the group who supported each other and engaged in the process with openness and compassion.
From the Foreword – Wilfred Roach: Facilitator, LGBTQIA+ Group

If you would like a copy of the book please email admin@westwords.com.au. The cost of the book is $15 + postage $7.50

The LGBTQIA+ writers’ group is proudly supported by 

One of my favourite things to do as an English Teacher is to bring the delights of the literary world into the classroom. To really embrace the creative writing process, these worlds need to be explored, experienced, tasted, challenged and felt by the students. I love the way words connect us as human beings and allow us the freedom to escape the mundane routines we face in the everyday. This escapism has never been more timely than in the current difficulties we find ourselves in today.

Our creative writing class is a lively bunch – with excitable thespians, illustrious illustrators, avid readers, aspiring authors and energetic, mohawked orators. A small group of students that commit to writing, indulge in the fictional worlds of others and encourage each other through magnificent teamwork and explosive brainstorming activities.

Being a small group we were able to create two stories each, to showcase not only our time with Catherine Jinks but also to represent the literary skills that we had learnt through writing stories

This whole process has been so inspiring for everyone involved. I have seen the students grow in confidence, embrace things that at first seem scary, step outside of their comfort zone and develop a renewed sense of belief in themselves. I would like to thank these amazing students for embracing this opportunity with both hands and squeezing everything out of it. Their hard work and dedication is evident in the final products they have presented.

Cara George, Head Teacher English, Blaxland High School 2021.


The After School Creative Writing groups run after school for students in grades 4-12. The program was formerly held in-person, but like most good things during this period of lockdowns and uncertainty, WestWords took the model into a Zoom room. This worked really well; many students from different places in Western Sydney and beyond were able to become part of a small writing community whose primary concern was creativity, imagination and writing craft.

At the end of 2021, when we asked the students how they would like to celebrate their good work, they said they would like to publish their work online, to share with friends and family. Some students chose to create graphics to accompany their stories, which we encouraged, as mastery and ownership of one’s creative work is so important to thrive.

Guided by Creative Writers and Facilitators Catherine Pelosi and Michelle Hamadache the students learnt about writing-as-craft, how to flex those editing muscles and how these considerations need not fence in ideas. They came to understand that the use of ‘writing tools’ clears the ‘brush’ around the ideas so they stand clear and strong. The work contained here is a small peek into imaginations that know no bounds.

Thank you to all those who contributed to this small collection and to Catherine who edited the work. WestWords is proud to have such long-lasting programs such as After School Creative Writing and hopes that initiatives such as these helps give confidence and seed the new generation of writers and the stories only they can tell.

To download the pdf: click here

For more information regarding the Creative Kids program, or to learn more about the more than 40 government savings and rebates to help with your cost of living, visit service.nsw.gov.au.






***Entries are now closed to this event. Stay tuned for winners and highly commended to be announced.

Living Stories Western Sydney Writing Prize 2022
Presented by WestWords and WestLit Libraries

The Living Stories Western Sydney Writing Prize is a creative writing competition for residents of Western Sydney and Wingecarribee Shire, which is home to over 2.5 million Australians originating from 180 countries, speaking almost 100 different languages, and residing in 14 local government areas.

The past two years have changed the world, and it has changed our experience of it. At times the world has got smaller when we didn’t venture out our front doors. Much we took for granted was lost. We reevaluated our lives on so many levels. We discovered new things about ourselves, about others, and yet so many things have been left unsaid.

Living stories is your opportunity to share your story. If you are 10 years or older we want your piece of writing responding to the theme Things Unsaid.


Your poem, story or personal essay (500 words maximum) will be judged by panels drawn from your local community. The winners from each LGA will go to a second panel to vie for the top prize.

Total prize pool of over $10,000

Winner: Adult – $1,000, Junior categories – $500
Highly Commended: Adult – $500, Junior categories – $250

Regional (awarded in each participating LGA)
Winners: Adult – $300, Junior categories – $100
Highly Commended: Adult – $100 cash, Junior categories $50

Categories are as follows: 10 – 12 years; 13 – 15 years; 16 – 18 years; and adults (18+). 

Free Living Stories workshops
In conjunction with the competition WestWords will be running in excess of 40 free writing workshops in locations across the region. We also have some workshops online if you can’t make it in person.
Click here for more information

Click here for Living Stories T&Cs and selection criteria


Winners and highly commended entries in each category, from each LGA, will be announced at the end of May/early June

The overall winners will be announced late June/early July.

For more information, please contact us on 1800 WESTWORDS or by email: admin@westwords.com.au

Entries closed midnight, Sunday 1st May 2022.


We are so excited to share this news with you! Orange-based publisher Dirt Lane Press recently wound up its solo operation, but will continue in both name and spirit as an imprint of WestWords.

Visit: Dirtlane Press

Dirt Lane Press founder and publisher Margrete Lamond, says, “After seven years Dirt Lane Press has reached a point in its evolution where it has outgrown the available resources required to keep it flourishing and expanding. The clearest way forward was to find Dirt Lane a home with an organisation that shares our goals and aspirations, and that has the resources to help the list grow in the ways we always envisioned for it.”

Michael Campbell, Executive Director of WestWords, says, “We are thrilled to bring Dirt Lane Press under the umbrella of WestWords. We see this as a natural evolution to the work we do. Both organisations share similar philosophies, seeking to develop and reveal the otherwise untold stories of contemporary Australia. We are also fortunate that Margrete Lamond will continue as publisher, bringing another layer of depth of experience and knowledge to the WestWords organisation. We are looking forward to continuing the Dirt Lane legacy into the future.”

The first title for Dirt Lane, as part of WestWords, was published on March 1st. It is The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness by the 2021 Prime Minister’s Literary Award Award winner Matt Ottley. The book is a ground-breaking, large-scale multi-modal project weaving together literature, music and visual art, and film in the poignant story of one boy’s journey into mental illness.

WestWords is dedicated to celebrating and championing the stories of the people, places and cultures that comprise the heart of Western Sydney. Dirt Lane Press also ran community book-related projects for refugees, the homeless, youth groups and women’s groups, fulfilling its aim of bringing quality books to demographics not usually associated with picture books, and demonstrating how small stories can make big differences to people’s lives.

You may recall that Dirt Lane Press has worked with WestWords in the past, most notably in the multi-lingual e-publication of the picture book Where Happiness Hides by Anthony Bertini, with illustrations by Jennifer Goldsmith, and the touring exhibition of original art by Persian artists, Birds of a Feather. For these reasons, and more, we can see that this is such a compatible fit. Margrete says: “Dirt Lane coming under the umbrella of WestWords is a liaison made in heaven and I’m both curious and excited to see where all this leads us. Uncharted territory is always the most interesting.”

As the Fisher’s Ghost Writing competition can attest, there are more than a few talented and passionate writers in the Macarthur. So, all passionate writers need a community of fellow scribblers to challenge and keep them motivated. It is with this idea of community building in mind that Campbelltown Library and WestWords are continuing to build on the great writing groups that started in 2021.  In 2022 WestWords and Campbelltown Library will be delivering regular writing groups and a range of masterclasses on various genres.

Please send your expression of interest to chris@westwords.com.au

The writing groups are as follows:

Groups are held on Saturday fortnights at 10am with James Roy, and Tuesday fortnights with Sienna Brown at 10am.

Both groups are at capacity at present but join the waitlist by contacting Campbelltown Library 02 46454444. And keep an eye out for an exciting program of Masterclasses. In June our Masterclass will be at HJ Daley Library, Campbelltown.


Fiction Writers Group – facilitated by James Roy

Are you furiously fidgeting with your form? Are you negotiating the mountains and pitfalls of the blank page? A writers’ group is a great place to come and sort out those kinks, to find like-minded people who aren’t obliged to like your work because they’re your mum or partner, and who, like you, are hoping that the great story in their mind somehow makes it onto the page. Every fortnight, facilitated by the effervescent James Roy, the Fiction Writers’ Group will come together (online at present) to learn, discuss, and feedback on each other’s work. No matter if you’re a beginner writer or well-weathered, we’d love you to join this lively space for writers.

Middle age caucasian male wearing glasses and mildly smiling. He has unshaven greying hair and is standing infront of some leaves

James Roy

Since James Roy’s first title was released in 1996, he has published 35 books, several of which have won major awards. He is a popular speaker in schools and at festivals, and has taught creative writing in such far-flung places as China, Japan, the US, Europe and, of course, Australia. James is a musician and songwriter who believes that the right number of instruments to own is “just one more.” He lives in the Blue Mountains.

Starting Tuesday 22nd February at 10:00 am – 12:00 pm (held fortnightly)


The Creative Writing Group – facilitated by Sienna Brown

Contrary to popular lore, writing is not a solo sport. Every writer needs a community, a sounding board, a group of people who think you’re fabulous and want to see you grow. The creative writing group is that for you. Meeting fortnightly via Zoom, Sienna will guide the group in looking deeper into their own work and craft. It is regular space to bring your creative writing questions and to find inspiration in the work and thoughts of others. No matter what your experience level, beginner or professional, we welcome you to come share this creative space.

mature brown skinned female wearing black collared blazer against a white background. Hair is afro, black and pulled off the face but chin length. Read lipstick and makeup is worn.

Sienna Brown

Sienna Brown was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and grew up in Canada. She’s been a professional dancer, film editor and documentary director/writer, and worked at Sydney Living Museums, where during research, she first came across information about Caribbean men and women being transported to Australia as convicts.  She used this research to kick start her writing career. In 2020, Master Of My Fate won the MUD Literary Award for best Australian debut novel and was also shortlisted for the ARA Historical Novel Prize. She is currently working on her second historical fiction novel: Heat In The Afternoon. This year, she’s been commissioned by ABC Radio National to co-produce with Dr Ben Etherington: Where do you come From? Caribbean Convicts In Australia, a documentary podcast for the History Listen series. Research for this project has been funded by the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University.


This month (June) we are back with our second Masterclass for Campbelltown in 2022. 

This Masterclass is open to anyone 16+ and will be held at HJ Daley Library, Campbelltown.

Bringing Myself to the Page: negotiating authenticity, identity and boundaries in fiction and personal essay

Date: Sunday 26th June 2022

Time: 10 am-1pm

Location: HJ Daley Library, 1 Hurley Street, Campbelltown NSW (5 mins walk from Campbelltown Train Station)

Ages: 16+

In a world where so many of us are constricted by expectations on how to behave, what is acceptable, and what is right when writing, it’s difficult to find and trust our authentic voice. At Campbelltown Library, in celebration of Pride Month, Bringing Myself to the Page will create a space for the sharing of personal experiences, and the discovery of new tools when approaching the fiction and personal essay space. No matter what genre you are working in, we’re making space to talk queer writing and queer writers. Everyone is welcome.


The guest speaker for the session is Tanya Vavilova. Tanya Vavilova’s essays and short stories have been published in Meanjin, The Lifted Brow, Seizure, the Mascara Literary Review, Slow Canoe and the UTS Writers’ Anthology, among other places. Her short story ‘Artichoke Hearts’ won the Wollongong Writers Festival Short Story Prize in 2018. She was recently awarded the Writers NSW Varuna Fellowship and was a Bundanon Trust Artist-in-Residence in 2019. We are Speaking in Code is her first book.

Bookings are open now: https://bit.ly/LGBTQIAWriting 

This Masterclass is brought to you by WestWords in partnership with Campbelltown City Libraries.

Tea and coffee will be provided.

For the second year in a row WestWords has been recognised in the WSABE Awards (Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence). WestWords won for the second year in a row the Excellence in Arts and Culture Award and Michael Campbell, our Executive Director, was named 2021 Outstanding Business Leader

From Michael
“To win the 2021 Outstanding Business Leader award as the leader of a not-for-profit Arts organisation, coming out of two years of COVID disruption is extraordinary. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Coupled with WestWords winning, for the second year in a row, the Excellence in Arts and Culture award, this recognition by the Western Sydney Chamber of Commerce is not just an honour for me and WestWords, but it is also an endorsement of the critical and fundamental role that the Arts contributes to a thriving society, and a vibrant economy.

I would like to thank WSABE along with the category sponsors AAA Removalists and Commbank. None of what any of us does happens in isolation and I have wonderful colleagues and partners of WestWords – thank you. This award, this recognition, this endorsement is yours. It is a celebration of the strength of Western Sydney stories and the importance of the work we do together. I would also like to acknowledge all the writers who participate in and facilitate our programs  – what amazing people you are.”

The Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence is run by the Western Sydney Chamber of Commerce. In 2021, WSABE received more than 400 entry engagements across 18 award categories recognising business excellence across a broad spectrum of industries, fields, and professions. Of these, WSABE selected 128 finalists deemed leaders in their respective fields. Awards are judged by an independent judging panel of industry leaders and professionals.