Boundless Indigenous Writer’s Mentorship Program

Presented by Writing NSW and Text Publishing

The annual Boundless Indigenous Writer’s Mentorship is presented by Writing NSW and Text Publishing, with support from Booktopia and the First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN).

The mentorship is awarded annually to an unpublished Indigenous writer who has made substantial progress on a work of fiction or non-fiction. The intention of the program is to support the writer to develop their manuscript and to facilitate a pathway to publication.

The 2024 winner is Kalem Murray, see the full announcement here.

On winning the mentorship, Murray said: ‘I am incredibly excited for this amazing opportunity. Having the brilliant Mykaela Saunders as a mentor can only help refine my skill as a writer, and with her guidance make the murky text I put to paper that much more legible. Thank you so much John Morrissey, Writing NSW and Text Publishing for choosing my manuscript and giving me this chance.’

How It Works

The program pairs an emerging Indigenous writer from anywhere in Australia with an established Indigenous writer for a structured year-long mentorship. The writer receives 20 hours of mentorship over the following year, including feedback on their work in progress and general advice on writing and developing a publishing career. If possible, an opportunity to meet with the mentor face to face is provided. The writer also receives editorial feedback and manuscript development from Text Publishing and access to Writing NSW professional development services.

At the conclusion of the mentorship, Text Publishing have the exclusive first right to consider the winning manuscript for publication, under terms to be negotiated with the writer. Since the establishment of the mentorship in 2019 two of the mentored writers, John Morrissey and Lenora Thaker, have been offered publishing deals by Text Publishing.

How To Apply

Writers do not need to have a full manuscript at the time of submission, though they must have made substantial progress on a manuscript, which they intend to complete (refer to submission requirements). Applicants must not previously have had a full-length work of fiction or non-fiction professionally published. 

Submissions must be either a work of fiction (including short-story collections) or narrative non-fiction for adult, kids (middle grade) or young adults. Please note that poetry, plays, picture books and practical non-fiction are ineligible.


About the Judge

2024 submissions were judged by John Morrissey in consultation with representatives from Text Publishing and Writing NSW. John is a Melbourne writer of Kalkadoon descent whose first book Firelight was published in 2023 by Text Publishing as a result of his 2020 Boundless mentorship. His work has been published in Overland, Voiceworks, Meanjin and the anthology This All Come Back Now.

John Morrissey said: 

I am very excited to be judging the 2024 Boundless Mentorship. I can’t wait to read the work of fellow new and emerging First Nations writers and see what directions they take with their stories.

The Boundless Mentorship gave me the direction and motivation to produce my first collection of stories. It was an enormous benefit and inspiration to feel that my stories might have a home somewhere. Working with Kim Scott has been an immense privilege as a writer. I would encourage any early-career Indigenous writer to apply for the mentorship.

Previous Winners

Lenora Thaker, recipient of the 2021 Boundless Indigenous Writer’s Mentorship, whose novel The Pearl of Shantytown will be published by Text in 2024, says:

Being awarded the 2021 Boundless Indigenous Writer’s Mentorship gave me a confidence boost and enabled me to take my writing to the next level. As an emerging Indigenous writer, having a First Nations mentor the calibre of Julie Janson really helped me develop my writing and understand the business of writing in a way that’s been culturally safe and supportive. Along with the support of Writing NSW and Text Publishing, I feel that I am finally on the road to success.’ 

Judi Morison, recipient of the 2022 Boundless Indigenous Writer’s Mentorship, says:

‘Winning the Boundless Indigenous Writer’s Mentorship has refocused my commitment to exploring the ongoing social issues with which my work deals. The prospect of working with, and learning from, the remarkable Larissa Behrendt, with added support from Text Publishing and Writing NSW, has made the writing journey less solitary and inspired me to ask more of myself as a writer.’ 

Tara June Winch, inaugural Boundless judge and mentor, says:

‘The opportunity to work with a master is not only significant for the emerging writer, but also for the mentoring author. The process they undergo is as old and sacred as our culture, the handing down of the skills and tools needed to one day be passed down again and again. Being able to teach and to learn in such a close and guided fellowship is a once-in-a-career moment.’

The mentorship is open to emerging Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writers who are permanent residents of Australia. Applicants must be over the age of 18. Confirmation of Indigenous status may be requested.

We thank the First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN) and Booktopia for their support of the Boundless Mentorship.

See more information about past mentees:

Kalem Murray (2024)

Boundless Indigenous Writer Mentorship Winner 2023 Edoardo Crismani

Edoardo Crismani (2023)

Boundless Mentorship 2022 winner Judi Morison

Judi Morison (2022)

Lenora Thaker (2021)

John Morrissey (2020)

Boundless mentorship 2019 Allanah Hunt

Allanah Hunt (2019)

Read about the Boundless Festival of Indigenous and culturally diverse writers, presented by Writing NSW every two years.

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