Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2018

Each year the Whitlam Institute asks Australian young people in grades 5-12 ‘What Matters?’ with their What Matters? Writing Competition. Est. by former PM Gough Whitlam, What Matters?  is part of the WI’s civics education program, inspiring young people to think big & make change. In 2017, Aus journalist/TV presenter of The Project Lisa Wilkinson became competition patron.

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

What Matters? is now closed for 2018

Thank you for your entries. Winners and runners up will be announced in August. If you have any questions, please email whatmatters@whitlam.org. All entrants will receive a certificate of participation.

If you'd like to keep in touch for next year, register your interest on this form.  

Prize Information here. Prizes are awarded in 4 categories: Years 5/6, 7/8, 9/10 and 11/12, courtesy of our generous supporters:

What Matters? - Australia's most thoughtful writing competition.

Inspired by Gough Whitlam's commitment to involving young people in the shaping of Australia's future, the competition is currently open to NSW, the ACT and Tasmania 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.

The competition receives thousands of entries covering a wide range of subjects, putting paid to the idea that young Australians are disengaged and disaffected. Year after year we are reminded how passionate, observant and articulate young people are, and how deeply driven they are by a sense of social justice as they offer us a window into not just what concerns them, but what inspires them. 

To enter What Matters? students submit an original written work between 400-600 words in prose or poetry, of either fiction or non-fiction. See Competition Guidelines here.


What Matters? 2018 NSW/ACT Shortlist

Year 5/6 Category Shortlist

Joseph Assaf Redfield College The Digital Dilemma

Imogen Beletich Abbotsleigh Feminism

Charlie Bradford Waitara Public School Refugees Matter

Scarlett Brennan Green Point Christian College Having Dyslexia Does Not Mean You Are Dumb

Sophia Budkin Caringbah North Public School War

Brianna Chen Ironbark Ridge Public School My Home Matters to Me

Lily Cyron Clovelly Public School Reconciliation Matters

Abigail Dickens Ellison Public School Every Bit Matters

Taylah Finlay Mount Colah Public School Community Matters

Alec Griffiths New Lambton Public School 'This Is My Park'

William Grimison Sutherland Public School The Importance of Face To Face Communication

George Kirkham Narrabeen North Public School Coding Matters

Phoenix Lay-Yee Ravenswood School for Girls Memories Through A Lens

Katie Lee Abbotsleigh Belonging Matters

Julia Lee Waitara Public School Animal Rights

Mia Levin Pymble Public School What Matters?  Goals. Believing.

Lucy Luo Sutherland Public School A Special Place

Aaron Ly Artarmon Public School The Boy, The Man, The Loner

Eliza Mavris Kambala The Pit

Oscar Rhodes Narrabeen North Public School Choice Matters

Lachlan Robinson Armidale City Public School Taking Things For Granted

Sophie Rousso sNeutral Bay Public School Australia Day

Caela Segon Glenbrook Public School Nan Matters

Annika Sharp Narrabeen North Public School Friendship Matters

Nicholas Tsovolos Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Primary School Soccer Matters

Eloise Tucker St Anthony Catholic Primary School Clovelly The Greatest Escape

Sasha  Van Onselen Kambala Women's Rights

Evelyn Van Wijk Canberra Grammar School Nostalgia

Dominic  Wee Balmain Public School What Matters To Me

Scarlett York Hunter Valley Grammar School Chances Blow with the Wind


Congratulations on making it to the Shortlisted stage.

Finalists will be announced in August via email and at www.whitlam.org.

All participants will receive Participation Certificates in Term 3.

Year 7/8 Category Shortlist

Year 9/10 Category Shortlist

Year 11/12 Category Shortlist

Jenny Barnott-Clement Camden High School Manners Matter; In a Manner of Speaking

Elvira Berzins Frensham Listen

Ella Cowle Holy Spirit College, Bellambi Alone and Suffering

Charlotte Cuff Holy Spirit College, Bellambi To Tell You The Truth

Daena Alessandra De Luna Sefton High School Expectations

Olivia Fina Holy Spirit College, Bellambi Society Matters

Natalie Herranz Bossley Park High School Wallpaper Women

Hayley Hunter Frensham Importance of LGBTQ+ Visibility

Alison Hwang Fort Street High School The Colours Of Words

Haichen (Hellen) Jiang Penrith High School What We Do Matters

Tivonee Kapugama Sefton High School Safety in Schools

Nacquel Knowles Holy Spirit College, Bellambi The Chance To Matter

Margot Lee SCEGGS DarlinghurstYouth Finding Its Voice

Breana Leone Holy Spirit College, Bellambi What Matters Is Now

Bethaney Lewis Campbelltown Performing Arts High School What Makes Me Who I Am

Mary Marsh Albury High School Teenage Pressure

Henry Mcgilchrist Barrenjoey High School The Difficulty & Importance Of Ascertaining Objective Truth In A Post-Fact World. Why Do We Read The News?

Gina Mcginnis Frensham A Voice for the Young

Scott McleanHoly Spirit College, Bellambi What Really Matters

Megan Mulcahy Barrenjoey High School Be A Man

Cassandra Nguyen Hurlstone Agricultural High School Success

Harper Northam Frensham I Know, I Know

William Pieper What Can We Do?

Christopher Predic Sefton High School Life- How We Live and How We Die.

Harshveer Purewal Glenwood High School I Have Had Enough

India Rogers Liston Loreto Kiribilli The Fight For Equality

Nikala Seiver Beverly Hills Girls High School Future Generations at Risks

Erin Thompson Holy Spirit College, Bellambi Talking Matters

Amanda Tobin Holy Spirit College, Bellambi The Hope-Filled Silence

Jenny (Jieyi) Zhang North Sydney Girls High School My Voice for Others


Congratulations on making it to the Shortlisted stage.

Finalists will be announced in August via email and at www.whitlam.org.

All participants will receive Participation Certificates in Term 3.

Ever wonder just what happens at the What Matters? Competition award ceremony day? Enjoy this sneak peek into the competition and what it means to us, our participants and for Australian democratic society. More information on What Matters?: whitlam.org/whatmatters

2017 Winners

Congratulations to our joint 2017 Winners: Anhaar Kareem of Greenacre Public School with her entry My Dreams Matter and Matti Schwarz of Hobart College with his entry Simple Things


Explore the competition in previous years: