Cultural Fund in Western Australia

September 28, 2021

Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund supports great work from cultural organisations and writers and visual artists in Western Australia, with opportunities that assist creators at different stages of their careers. This can include mentoring, professional development, residencies, support to pay contributors and book awards. Here is a brief overview of some projects and organisations we support in Western Australia.

  • The Cultural Fund has partnered with Broome-based Magabala Books, Australia’s leading Indigenous publishing house, on a number of projects. We are thrilled to support the Daisy Utemorrah Award for an unpublished manuscript of junior or YA fiction by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writer, which has been running since 2019. The winner receives $15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books, and is announced at the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards.
    • Kirli Saunders, a Gunai Woman, was the inaugural winner with Bindi in 2019. Bindi went on to win the 2021 ABIA for Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year.
    • Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman Teela Reid won in 2020 with Our Matriarchs Matter.
    • Jaru/Kija man Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler were awarded the 2021 Award for their junior fiction manuscript Dirran, a sequel to their award-winning Black Cockatoo.
  • Indigenous-owned and run Goolarri Media Enterprises, also in Broome, is a multi-arts and media organisation that received funding to teach, mentor and support emerging Indigenous writers. The Indigenous Writers Program develops emerging writers’ professional skills through a combination of mentorship and tuition from leading industry professionals, as well as experiential training.

Working in partnership with Magabala Books, Goolarri Media hosted the Corrugated Lines Festival, enabling its writers to read their work to audiences alongside award-winning authors Kirli Saunders and Teela Reid, to name a few.

“Through the Goolarri Writers Program I was able to develop my first play FIFO, which debuted during COVID times in Perth and Broome. As a result, I am finalising the negotiations with Magabala Books for the play to be published. I am now in development for my second play, which received audience praise at its first public reading during the 2021 Corrugated Lines Festival.” Melody Dia, writer.


  • A significant award-winning opportunity for emerging writers is the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, which was established in 2015 by UWA Publishing. The winner receives $10,000 and a publishing contract with UWA Publishing. Josephine Wilson was the inaugural winner with Extinctions, which went on to win the 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award. This year, and for the first time, two authors received this Award: Kgshak Akec for Hopeless Kingdom and Josh Kemp for Strangest Place.


  • Publisher Terri-ann White, who set up the Dorothy Hewett Award during her 14 years at UWA Publishing, has launched her own imprint Upswell Publishing. Based in Perth, Upswell aims to publish a small number of distinctive books each year in the genres of narrative nonfiction, fiction and poetry. The Cultural Fund will support commissioning fees for two writers, James Burgmann-Milner (JR Burgmann) and Sally Olds, whose books will shortly be published by Upswell.


  • Also in Perth, The Literature Centre is hosting the Celebrate Reading National Conference from 29–30 October. The Cultural Fund supports the writers’ fees for this conference, which focuses on insights into quality Australian literature for young adults and connecting young readers with books by Australian writers. It features diverse authors from across the nation and promotes a deeper understanding of contemporary Australian fiction and the context of each author’s work.


  • Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) received Cultural Fund support to pay artist fees for the First Nations Australian art exhibition nyinalanginy/the gathering, curated by Glenn Iseger-Pilkington and held from 21 February – 18 April 2021. PICA also received support for Fijian Australian artist Salote Tawale’s body of new work, I don’t see colour, which is exhibiting from 30 July – 10 October.


  • There is another fabulous opportunity for Western Australian writers through the Westerly Centre’s Writers’ Development and Fellowship Program, which offers professional mentorships to three emerging writers and a Fellowship for two mid-career writers. The Cultural Fund provides the bursaries for the Fellowships, as well as writers’ fees. Both pathways lead to publication in the Westerly Magazine, which showcases literary excellence in Western Australia.


  • Artsource, a membership body for visual artists based in Fremantle, collaborated with Cyril Jackson Senior College (CJSC) on a series of artist residencies within an educational environment at CJSC ArtsHouse. Three artists were selected to participate: Sharyn Egan, Elizabeth Pedler and Gordon Mitchell, with funding from the Cultural Fund covering the Artists in Residence’s fees.



  • Fremantle Press received Cultural Fund support to compile a professional development program that trains authors in media promotion across a wide range of mediums. A showcase for festival directors during Perth Festival offers valuable practise presenting and pitching to a large audience, with debut writers working alongside and learning from more established authors.


  • Writing WA is committed to supporting Western Australian writers. The Cultural Fund assisted with author fees for the ‘Love to Read Local 2020’ campaign, which launched in April 2020 during WA’s COVID-19 lockdown. This campaign focused on web-based activities and book promotions to encourage Western Australians to engage with and celebrate books by WA writers.


  • The Centre for Stories’ ‘Inclusion Matters’ program enables emerging diverse writers to participate in a 12-month mentoring program, plus ten-week hot desk Fellowships. To Hold the Cloudsa collection of poetry, short fiction and essays, is the result of this program. The Cultural Fund provided stipends to hot desk Fellows and payments to mentors.


  • The University of Notre Dame Australia received Cultural Fund support for its Environmental Fellowships to foster outstanding literary writing about the environment. Two Fellows have been selected – James Bradley and Claire Coleman – to participate in 24-month residencies, and to each mentor three emerging environmental writers. A series of programs and public lectures will feature as well. Residencies will be held at the Sydney and Fremantle campuses of the School of Arts and Sciences, and the Nulungu Institute in Broome.