What Matters? 2017 NSW/ACT

It has been a phenomenal year for the competition, our biggest ever with 3,813 entries pouring in from all over NSW and the ACT.Congratulations to the students who have made it to the next stage of the competition!

View our 2017 Shortlisted entrants - the top entries for each age category:

What Matters? 2017 Shortlist 

We will be announcing the finalists in late July. All participants will receive a Participation Certificate in Term 3.

The What Matters? competition is run annually by the Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University. What Matters? is a writing competition that gives year 5 – 12 students in NSW, the ACT and Tasmania a chance to speak out about what matters to them in society today.

What actions do you think should be taken to build a better society?

What would you change if you could?

What do you want other people to care about?


Student Prizes

Prizes are awarded in 4 categories: Years 5/6, 7/8, 9/10 and 11/12.

  • $350 for each category winner and $200 for each category runner-up. Winners and runners-up will receive their prize at an awards ceremony, following their participation in a Young Writers Forum run by The Writing Workshop, at the Whitlam Institute.
  • The Years 5/6 and 7/8 category winners and runners up will each receive a full-day creative writing workshop donated by The Writing Workshop, conducted by award-winning author Bernard Cohen.
  • The Year 9/10 category winner will be invited to spend a day at ReachOut.com, meeting the team and receiving professional training. They will also be offered 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.

As a new prize in 2017, WestWords (Western Sydney's Literature Development Organisation for Young People) will offer one lucky school the chance to host an author at their school**. The school prize will be randomly drawn from the shortlisted entries from NSW/ACT, which will be announced in June. The winning school will be invited to liaise with WestWords to determine which author would suit their students best.

Overall Competition Winner

The overall competition winner, announced at the awards ceremony, will receive an iPad and a trophy. In 2017, for the first time, the overall winner will also be invited to spend a day*** at the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) at Old Parliament House in Canberra – meeting a curator, getting behind the scenes and contributing their voice to MoAD's programs.

The overall competition winner will be selected from finalists in NSW, ACT and What Matters? Tasmania.

Check out the fantastic entries made by students like you in 2016.


The 2017 What Matters? competition is proudly supported by the Museum of Australian Democracy, The NSW Writers' Centre, The Writing Workshop ReachOut.com and WestWords.

What Matters 2017 Logos

* To participate in a NSW Writers' Centre workshop you must be over the age of 16. Participants under the age of 18 must have their participation approved in advance. The NSW Writers' Centre cannot guarantee that all workshops will be available.

**To be hosted by the end of the 2017 school year.

***The Museum of Australian Democracy will cover the flights/vehicle expenses associated with the trip to Canberra for the winning student and an accompanying adult up to a maximum of $2000.

This does not include accommodation expenses. Entry to the Museum is free.

To participate in a visit to the Museum you must be over the age of 10. Participants under the age of 18 must have their participation approved in advance.

The offer must be redeemed by 15 December 2017.

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