Varuna, the National Writers' House

Varuna offers Fellowships for First Nations Writers

Now in its fourth consecutive year, the First Nations program is developed by Varuna the National Writers’ House in collaboration with Magabala Books.

Both unpublished and published Indigenous writers are invited to apply for a one-week residency at Varuna, in the Blue Mountains of NSW. All genres of fiction, narrative non-fiction, poetry, children's books, graphic novels, dramatic/screen writing, writing for radio, translation, essays or short fiction are eligible. Submissions in language are warmly welcomed.

Each residency offers participants the time and space to write, including full board and accommodation with a room and writing studio for each writer, as well as reimbursement of all travel expenses to and from Varuna. The week-long fellowship includes a one-on-one mentoring session as well as group reading sessions.

Over decades, Varuna has become established as a unique haven for writers, fostering excellence, innovation and diversity in Australian literature with opportunities that are designed to support writers and the writing process.

Varuna Executive Director Veechi Stuart reflected on the First Nations program’s success in supporting Indigenous literary voices, saying “We are hopeful the callout for this national program will reach new ears this year, perhaps attracting some writers who may not have previously considered applying.

“Australian Indigenous writing continues to represent some of the most vibrant and significant work taking place in Australia today, and Varuna is committed to supporting this work,” she said.

Program consultant Dr Peter Minter, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Sydney, commented, “Like art, dance, cinema and all forms of creative expression, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature is central to the cultural strength and vitality of Indigenous communities, and to how we share knowledge and understanding with one another.”

Rachel bin Salleh, from leading Indigenous publisher and key program partner Magabala Books, is engaged in the selection process for awarding Fellowships. Magabala Books will offer Fellowship participants the opportunity to have their works completed during the program appraised, with a view to possible publication.

Rachel bin Salleh said, “Indigenous writing is important because we are the original storytellers for this country. We have been telling stories for an exceptionally long time, and we would like to continue with our practices in an environment that will help support and nurture creativity.”

The 2020 recipients of the First Nations Fellowship were Alison Whitakker, Gary Lonesborough, Jeanine Leane, Mykaela Saunders and Travis De Vries.

Applications close at midnight on 10 December 2020.

For further details, including how to apply, visit: or phone (02) 4782 5674.


Thursday 5 November, 2020
Thursday 10 December, 2020
Varuna the National Writers' House
Venue Address
141 Cascade St, Katoomba NSW 2780

New South Wales , Katoomba

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