Writing Australia launched by Australia Council

Posted Thursday 16th December, 2010

The Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts has announced that five Australian state-based writers' centres will join together to form a national organisation to benefit writers, called Writing Australia.

The new organisation, which will commence operations in January 2011, will be based in Canberra and will bring together the ACT, NSW, South Australia, Tasmanian and Victorian Writers' Centres. Writers' centres in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory will be associate members of the organisation. The new body will receive triennial funding from the Australia Council.

Director of the Tasmanian Writers' Centre, and chair of the Writing Australia working committee, Chris Gallagher, said the new organisation is the product of two years of work between the Literature Board and the state writers' centres.

Gallagher said that the new body will offer a national program of five projects over three years. These projects will include an unpublished manuscript award, an online information portal for writers, a national residency program, a national touring program, and a national conference for writing professionals.

The national conference will be held every two years and there are plans to provide subsidies so that writers in remote areas have an equal opportunity to attend.

She said the new body represents a 'refreshing plan' for cooperation between the individual centres and that it will create a stronger focus on the writing craft across the country.

A chief executive officer will be appointed to oversee the organisation, and the board of directors will be made up by the directors of the participating writers' centres.

This model will allow the organisation to maintain a presence in Canberra, said Gallagher, while also forming a relationship with the federal government.

Gallagher said that the state writers' centres will continue to offer their local programs while each looking after different projects for the national centre.

'We all really like working together already,' said Gallagher. 'This model gives us the best of both worlds', she said.

Chair of the Literature Board Professor Dennis Haskell said in a statement today that the Literature Board is 'thrilled to see this organisation come to fruition' and that a 'national network' of writers' centres is a 'logical and progressive step to continuing [the] great work' of the state based centres.

'Our state based writers' centres do a fantastic job providing invaluable support, workshops and resources for our Australian writers', said Haskell.

'Implementing a national network dedicated to promoting writing-based culture, and supporting the rights and interests of writers, will ensure that our writers receive the right opportunities and encouragement to create excellent Australian literature'. 

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