First Nations Writers' Residency

Applications are now closed.

Applications close: Thursday 12 March 2020 (11.59pm AEDT) 

Residential dates: Monday 4 - Sunday 13 May 2020

Notification date: Thursday 9 April 2020

About the program

The Australia Council for the Arts in partnership with Magabala Books are calling on applications for the First Nations Writers’ Residency to be held in Broome between 4 -13 May 2020.

The residency will enable 6 participants to be immersed in their craft of writing and have the space to reflect and reconnect to their practice in collaboration with likeminded creatives.  It is also an opportunity to engage with Magabala Books, a leading Indigenous publishing house.

The residency is designed to provide First Nations Writers with the opportunity to gain insight into the roles of editors, agents, sales representatives and marketing your work within a global context.  It will enable further discussion around First Nations Literature and its place within the Australian contemporary society, along with generating ideas to further develop your practice. 

This residency is open to mid-career to established First Nations Writers who have published a minimum of one book and have an ISBN and barcode.

All travel expenses, accommodation and meals are included. Successful applicants will also receive a fee of $1,000.

About Magabala Books

Magabala Books is Australia’s leading Indigenous publishing house. Aboriginal owned and led, Magabala Books celebrate and nurture the talent and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.

Based in Broome Western Australia, Magabala publish Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors, artists and illustrators from all over Australia. An independent, not-for-profit Indigenous corporation, Magabala is governed by a dedicated board of Kimberley Aboriginal cultural leaders, educators, business professionals and creative practitioners.

Magabala publishes up to 15 new titles annually across a range of genres: children’s picture books, memoir, fiction (junior, young adult and adult), non-fiction, graphic novels, social history and poetry. Magabala Books keep a substantial backlist in print and their earliest titles stand strong alongside new releases in the trade and are of significant cultural importance.

Magabala’s commitment to developing new and emerging Indigenous writers, illustrators and one-time storytellers, sets them apart from other publishers. Their program of professional development is unparalleled in the industry.

Magabala’s award-winning titles are recognised for their literary merit, cultural significance and contribution to the canon of Australian literature. 

Magabala Books is an advocate and guardian, protecting the cultural and intellectual property rights of all their creators. They play a significant advisory role within the publishing industry, modelling best practice for the publishing of Indigenous stories. Magabala also delivers a range of innovative social and cultural initiatives.

Every Magabala Book purchased is an investment in Indigenous creative, cultural and economic futures. 


  • First Nation Australian Creative Writers at a mid-career to established level.
  • First Nations Writers who have published a minimum of one book and have an ISBN and barcode.
  • You must have a minimum of 1 published independent creative work at a publishing house or organisation.
  • You must be working on a manuscript in fiction (adult and young adult), poetry, narrative non-fiction, short stories, anthologies and literary magazines.
  • You are required to demonstrate a body of work containing at least 5 pieces.
  • No self-published works will be considered.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed on the following criteria: 

  • creative merit and experience of the writer
  • skills and strengths of the applicant 
  • the impact and timeliness of the residency on the writer's career
  • quality of written works and how it communicates First Nations stories and themes

Assessment Process

Applications will be assessed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy Panel and a Magabala Book representative.

Required Support Material

  • a brief biography and curriculum vitae (CV) outlining your publication and writing history.
  • samples of your work URL’S (weblinks), images and written material.

What to expect in the application

  • Provide an overview of your current writing and publishing experience. 
  • Describe how you plan to develop your creative practice.
  • Detail areas within your creative practice that require further development.
  • Describe how the First Nations Writers’ Residency will strengthen your creative practice and what you wish to achieve from the residency.

How to apply

  1. Select 'Apply for a Grant' from the left panel menu.
  2. From the list of opportunities select 'Apply for the First Nations Writers’ Residency’.
  3. Complete the fields and select answers from the dropdown menus.
  4. Upload any necessary support material.
  5. Select ‘Save’ once complete.
  6. If you are not ready to submit your application you can return to it through 'Your Draft Applications' in the left panel menu at a later date.
  7. If you are ready to submit your application, select ‘Submit’.

If you are a new user, you will need to register for an account in the Application Management System (AMS) to access the application form. 

Reminder: Our system has a 2-business day turn around to accept new registrations. Last minute registrations on a closing date can be lodged, but it will not be possible to process this registration in time for you to lodge an application


To discuss your application, please contact, Joanne Brown, Manager First Nations Strategic Development, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts, 02 9215 9046 or 0490 299 495 or email

First Nations Writers' Residency graphic banner of Broome with the title of the program

Exit off canvas