The National Young Writers’ Festival (NYWF) is an annual gathering of young writers. A place to show work, share ideas, and learn. Our programs are free, and made by and for young writers who create across stage, page, web and beyond.

In 2022 we are presenting a hybrid festival! With both in person and online events, we are confident that we can deliver an exciting & dynamic program that fosters the community spirit for which NYWF is known.

NYWF is so-called Australia’s largest gathering of young writers, with artists bringing their craft from all around (cities, regional, rural and our beloved regular cohort from Aotearoa). We showcase work in both new and traditional forms including zines, comics, blogging, screenwriting, poetry, spoken word, hip hop, music, journalism, autobiography, comedy and prose. 

The festival presents ‘writing’ in its broadest sense through panels, discussions, workshops, launches, performances, readings, installations, and more. Our program combines practical skill-building sessions with social events, interactive projects, writing showcases and collaborations.

National Young Writers’ Festival takes place on the land of the Awabakal and Worimi peoples in Newcastle, NSW. We acknowledge and pay respect to the Awabakal and Worimi people on whose land our festival was born; and many, many other First Nations Peoples as the traditional custodians of the unceded lands on which the festival occurs this year. We pay respect to elders, past, present and emerging. We acknowledge the resilience of their continuing cultures. This always was, always is, always will be Aboriginal land.

Since its creation in 1998, NYWF has partnered with Octapod, a Newcastle-based leading regional arts and cultural development organisation, to present the festival as part of This is Not Art (TiNA). This is Not Art is an experimental environment where artists can test and exchange ideas that belong outside of institutions. It usually comprises three sub-festivals: Crack Theatre Festival, Critical Animals and the National Young Writers’ Festival, and in the past has included special guest events from Electrofringe and City Evolutions. In 2021 we are presenting NYWF as a solo festival while TiNA takes a break.

Read our Code of Conduct for artists, attendees and team members.

 

 

Staff

 

Alex Kidman Jones

Co-Director

Alex Kidman Jones (he/him) is a Meanjin/Brisbane-based researcher, producer, and stage manager. He is the current Co-Director of the National Young Writers’ Festival, and has collaborated with theatre collectives and festivals such as Yours Sincerely, Anywhere Festival, and Backbone Festival in the past. Alex’s research background is in queer futurity, contemporary theatre and theatre-making methodologies, and is currently commissioned as a producer for the University of Queensland.

Email: alex@youngwritersfestival.org
Twitter: @alexkidmanjones

 

Jack Gow

Co-Director

Jack Gow (he/him) is a writer and comedian based in Sydney. Handpicked by the Sydney Comedy Festival for the prestigious Break Out Comedy showcase, Jack has toured sold out, critically acclaimed shows across the country. He is a two-time The Moth Sydney GrandSLAM finalist, a four-time StorySLAM winner, and his stories have appeared on Radio National, the Story Club podcast, and FBi Radio’s All the Best. He has trained at the Improv Theatre Sydney, is a former editor of Honi Soit, a former director of the University of Sydney Arts Revue, and a regular contributor to ABC digital publications. When he’s not writing or performing, he helps run ABCQueer and ABC Everyday, as well as lecturing about social and digital media at the University of Sydney.

Email: jack@youngwritersfestival.org
Instagram: @thegreatgowie
Twitter: @Jack_Gow

 

Thomas Hamilton

Co-Director

As someone who grew up amongst Newcastle’s creative scene and a University of Newcastle graduate, Thomas (he/him) is excited to be bringing back in person events for NYWF 2022 alongside the digital program. This is also his return to the festival as he was the Producer for the Young Queer Writers Program for NYWF 2018.  A self-professed arts festival junkie he has been a volunteer for various events and organisations including Newcastle Writers Festival, Tropfest and Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival. He was also a member of the 2018/2019 Createability Internship Cohort where he was placed at Sydney Festival where he still is currently in the role of Administration Officer. He also has been a participant of the ATYP 2019 National Studio and served as a member of the 2021 ATYP Youth Advisory Board.

Email: thomas@youngwritersfestival.org
Twitter: @ItsThomasH

 

Chloe Mills

Co-Manager
Chloe Mills (she/her) is a queer (lesbian) writer based in Meanjin. She graduated from QUT in 2018 with a Bachelor of Creative and Professional Writing. She will be continuing her research in the form of a Masters degree to raise awareness and break the stigma of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the LGBTQI+ community. In 2019 she was shortlisted for Overland’s Single Mothers residency. Her writing has been published in the Within/Without These Walls anthology, Gurls Talk, the Your Zen Mama website, and more. Her ghostwriting has appeared in The Guardian and Vogue Australia. In 2021, she collaborated with GurlsTalk for their #MakeTheAsk campaign where she developed a video for their official Instagram account. She has also performed, hosted and panelled for QPF, The Saturday Series, QUT, and alongside David Malouf. And will be featuring at the QLD poetry festivals next Volta series in June.

Email: chloe@youngwritersfestival.org

 

Fran Hefferman

Communications Manager

Fran Hefferman (she/her) has worked in ticketing, communications, data analysis and strategic planning within the arts industry for over 12 years. Originally from the UK, Fran has lived and worked in the UK, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh land (Vancouver) and Naarm (Melbourne), before moving to Gadigal land (Sydney) in 2021. Fran is also a trained mental health first aider, and volunteers at a greyhound sanctuary in her spare time.

Email: marketing@youngwritersfestival.org
Instagram: @franiheff

 

Jes Layton

Digital Manager

Jes Layton (he/him, she/her) invented writing, the airplane, and the internet. He was also the first person to reach the North Pole. Jes is a writer, content creator and artist who works and lives on Wurundjeri Land. His written work can be found at SBS Voices, Junkee, Voiceworks, Kill Your Darlings, Archer, Enby Life, The Victorian Writer and scattered elsewhere online and in print. She has short stories published in Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short stories (Nero Books) 2019 and Growing Up in Country Australia, (Black Inc) 2022. Jes has also presented work at a variety of writers(’s) festivals and is the Digital Manager for National Young Writer’s Festival, Administrator for ClimbingQTs and Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Express Media. His tweets have been written about in Teen Vogue, the Daily Mail, Screen Rant, Buzzfeed and more. Exposure was apparently payment.

Email: digital@youngwritersfestival.org
Instagram: @ageekwithahat
Twitter: @ageekwithahat

 

 

Board

Mark Thomas

President

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. Mark sits on three not-for-profit boards and on the Regional Council for an Industry Body in the Finance Sector. In his spare time he blogs, and lectures 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.

 

Joanna Davison

Treasurer

Joanna is an investment professional who has worked in the investment and superannuation industry for over 30 years. With experience initially managing assets in London and then Sydney, her career has progressed to senior leadership roles providing strategic input to the development of a business. Joanna was formerly Regional Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand of Colonial First State Global Asset Management and earlier Director of Sales & Client Service at Russell Investments. She is also an Honorary Associate of UTS. With a detailed knowledge of the superannuation industry and an extensive network Joanna has a passion for helping others achieve dignity in retirement.

 

Grace Heifetz

Grace grew up between Sydney and the Blue Mountains and has lived in London and San Francisco. Grace returned to Australia in 2002 and began working at Curtis Brown where she worked in a number of roles until mid-2019. In July 2019 she joined forces with fellow literary agent, Gaby Naher, to create Left Bank Literary where she represents clients such as Mark Brandi, Chris Hammer, Bri Lee and Nakkiah Lui. Grace is also on the board of the Blue Mountains Writers’ Festival and the National Young Writers’ Festival.

 

Catherine Sullivan

Catherine is a senior manager and legal counsel at ASX with over 25+ years of extensive law firm and in-house corporate legal experience. With expertise in governance, managing financial markets, data, risk, and operational efficiency. She is also a non-executive director at a number of leading not for profits arts organisations and is forever grateful for all the artists that make the world a better place.

 

Rachel Toop

Rachel has a background in events, corporate sponsorship, philanthropy, arts management and public policy, having worked across government and for leading and grassroots arts organisations, festivals and tours across Australia. She currently works for MOD. – an Adelaide-based future-focussed museum which explores the intersection of art, science and technology. Here she leads the design, development and delivery of its public and education programs. Previously she has held leadership roles for organisations such as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival, and Rundle Mall, and was previously the Festival Manager of National Young Writers’ Festival in 2014 and 2015. She has also held positions within the South Australian Government’s Arts SA and Adelaide Writers’ Week, and has worked as a book buyer and literary event producer.

 

Marika Webb-Pullman

Marika Webb-Pullman is a communications professional from Sydney, currently living in the Macedon Ranges, just outside Melbourne. She’s the associate publisher at Scribe Publications, one of Australia’s key independent publishing houses, where she’s building a list that includes literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, and projects in translation. Marika has been working in publishing and online media for more than a decade, across roles in marketing, editorial, and digital strategy. Before joining Scribe, she was the marketing and subscriptions manager at Crikey.