The National Young Writers’ Festival (NYWF) occurs annually in the city of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, over the New South Wales’ Labour Day Holiday Weekend in late September / early October.

NYWF is the country’s largest gathering of young and innovative writers working in both new and traditional forms including zines, comics, blogging, screenwriting, poetry, spoken word, hip hop music, journalism, autobiography, comedy, songwriting and prose. The festival presents ‘writing’ in its broadest sense through panels, discussions, workshops, launches, performances, readings, installations, and more.

NYWF gives young writers a place to present their work and share ideas, to learn about the industry in which they write and to meet with like-minded people in a friendly festival atmosphere. NYWF is a co-presenter of This is Not Art. If you’d like to know more about the festival, check out the frequently asked questions or contact a staff member.


Raelee Lancaster

Festival Co-Director

Raelee Lancaster is a Brisbane-based writer, research assistant and budding Arts and GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) professional. In 2018, her poetry won the Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers and featured in the EX-EMBASSY exhibition and text series in Berlin. Raelee wants to empower young creatives and provide space for Indigenous knowledges and expertise.

Jesse Oliver

Festival Co-Director

Jesse Oliver is a Perth based writer, producer, and Australian Poetry Slam Champion. In 2018, he toured both nationally and internationally at destinations such as the Byron Bay Writers Festival, the Ubud Readers & Writers Festival, and the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. In Perth, Jesse directs engagement programs with the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Instagram: @unsolicited_anchovy

Bonnie Stevens

Festival Co-Director

Bonnie Stevens is a Melbourne-based writer, editor and publisher. She is the founding editor and publisher of arts and culture publication Mous Magazine and the founder and host of monthly panel discussions series INFORM. Her work has appeared in publications such as SBS Sexuality, Archer, GOAT, Global Hobo, Inside Out Magazine and Mous.  In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award and in 2018 she was nominated for a Journalism and Media award at the Australian Adult Industry Awards.

Instagram: @Bonnieestevens

Ellen Harvey

Festival Co-Manager

Ellen is a writer, editor, and arts manager. She has experience as an editor of a nationally-distributed magazine, director of an arts organisation, marketing and events coordinator of a writers festival, community manager, and regional liaison for writing programs. Ellen has worked with the ACT Writers Centre, the Canberra Writers Festival, Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres, Penguin Books, Random House Australia, Universal Magazines, National Novel Writing Month, and Dymocks Booksellers. Ellen is passionate about engaging with readers, writers, and artists, while also supporting the next generation of young creatives. Currently, Ellen is writing her third (unpublished) novel.
Twitter: @honeyelle

Deanne Sheldon-Collins

Festival Co-Manager

Deanne works by day at Writers Victoria, where she’s involved in various areas of arts administration and programming. By night, she freelances as an editor and writer, and she’s worked on projects across fiction, non-fiction, and academia. She has degrees in literature and publishing from The University of Queensland, worked for several years in bookselling, and is the former Reviews Editor of speculative fiction magazine Aurealis. Deanne drinks far too much tea, loves reading new fantasy, and will happily ramble about textual analysis for hours if you get her started.


Jessica Seaborn

Jessica Seaborn

Younger Young Writers' Program Producer

Jess works in TV and is a Communications Specialist at SBS Broadcasting in Sydney. Prior to that, she worked in the publishing industry for 5 years. Her previous role was Senior Publicist (Children’s & Young Adult) with Allen & Unwin.

Twitter:  @Jessica_Seaborn


Shona Barrett


Shona is CEO of Melbourne Writers Festival, and was MWF’s General Manager for 5 years. She is an arts manager with over 15 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector, in operations, business and strategic planning, financial management, human resources and fundraising. Before relocating to Melbourne from London in 2011, Shona worked in production and project management roles at the British Film Institute, working with the collections of the UK’s National Film and Television Archive.

Sarah Gilchrist


Sarah trained as an actor and a writer before moving into arts management. She has held marketing and communications roles for a number of arts organisations including the Australian Youth Orchestra, Sydney Writers’ Festival and Pinchgut Opera. She is now General Manager of Pinchgut Opera, a role which is also responsible for marketing and fundraising.

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas


Mark is a consultant who works with businesses and individuals to help them to excel.  Often working with arts companies, start-ups, and entities that have fallen on hard times he guides them to rationalize their strategic objectives and he gives them focus on those priorities that will help them to achieve their goals.  Before commencing his consulting business, Mark worked for 25 years in the Financial sector, with 10 years in senior management, and before entering finance he enjoyed a career in engineering.  In his spare time Mark is the Treasurer on four not-for-profit boards, a blogger, a lecturer at Western Sydney University and for a finance industry body; he is a competitive rower and runner, and often is confounded by his two teenage children.

Penny Chalke

Penny is a commercial lawyer who specialises in advising companies, not for profits and individuals on business structuring, commercial arrangements, corporate governance and intellectual property. She is currently a Senior Associate at Melbourne law firm Shiff & Company. Previously she worked at Piper Alderman, a national law firm, and in house at the BBC in London providing commercial and regulatory legal advice.

Carina Bates

Carina Bates is a writer and communications specialist from the Hunter Valley (NSW).  Across her 25-year career, she has written and edited content for corporate publications, intranets and websites, executive speeches, media relations tools, reports and strategic communications plans.  She has applied her expertise to organisations such as the American Red Cross, McDonald’s Corporation (Global), the U.S. Beef Industry and several NSW Government agencies. She also provides writing and presentation training to help managers and their teams strengthen their skills and get results.

Ewa Ramsey

Ewa Ramsey is a writer and arts administrator based in Newcastle. She is currently operations manager for the Newcastle Writers Festival. Previously, she was volunteer co-ordinator for the National Young Writers Festival and worked in print production and magazine publishing. She has written for Limelight Magazine, Atomic, PC & Tech Authority and the Sydney Morning Herald and her fiction has been published in the Newcastle Herald and won a commendation in the Newcastle Short Story Prize. She has recently finished her first novel.

Grace Heifetz

Grace grew up between Sydney and the Blue Mountains. She moved to San Francisco in 1997 and worked in restaurant and food PR, with groups such as Slow Food San Francisco and Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project. After a short stint in London she returned to San Francisco in 2000 and became involved with independent radio producers The Kitchen Sisters. Grace project managed the Peabody Award-winning NPR series Lost & Found Sound and The Sonic Memorial Project, a living archive and online sound installation that tells the life and history of the World Trade Center and the events of 9/11. In 2002 she returned to Australia and began working at Curtis Brown.

Jemma Birrell

After working in publishing in Australia, Jemma Birrell moved to Paris, directing events at the iconic Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Company, and co-directing three editions of FestivalandCo, literary festival. Jemma then became Artistic Director of Sydney Writers’ Festival from 2012 til 2016. Year on year there was an increase in audience numbers, culminating in the highest attendances, book sales and ticket sales in its history, with ticket revenue increasing 80% over her last two Festivals. After the Festival, Jemma became creative director at Tablo, a self-publishing start-up, helping innovate publishing with writers able to share their work widely. Jemma has been on the advisory arts board for The University of Technology, on the judging panel for the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships and an academy member of the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction.


The National Young Writers’ Festival is supported by the NSW Government through Arts NSW.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

National Young Writers’ Festival is part of:

Produced by:

Sister festivals:


To contact festival staff, please email

For all media enquiries, please email

Please address postal correspondence to:

The National Young Writers’ Festival
c/- NSW Writers’ Centre
PO Box 1056
Rozelle NSW 2039