The National Young Writers’ Festival (NYWF) is an annual gathering of young writers. It’s 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. NYWF is the country’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.
Since its creation in 1998, NYWF has presented ‘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.
Tina Huang (Lead Artistic Director)
Tina Huang is a Chinese Australian writer, performance poet, and curator. She is based in Sydney on unceded Wangal land.
Her writing has appeared in publications such as Meanjin, The Lifted Brow, Going Down Swinging, Cordite Poetry Review, Overland, and Peril. Tina is also a performance poet and was a 2021 NSW State Finalist in the Australian Poetry Slam. Additionally, Tina also curates and delivers literary events. Tina has curated and performed at the Boundless Festival, Australia’s leading festival of Indigenous and culturally diverse writers, in both 2021 and 2023. Tina was also a guest curator and facilitator at the Addi Road Writers’ Festival in 2023.
She is passionate about pushing the boundaries of traditional festival-making and experimenting with formally innovative events.
Kanika Chopra (Co-Director)
Kanika is a writer, editor, public speaker, and facilitator with a desire to elevate the voices of underrepresented artists and writers. She is also the creator and editor of the literary zine More than Melanin which is currently on its third issue. They moved from Mumbai, India to Naarm in 2016 to complete their master’s in creative writing and literature and have since written for publications such as South Asian Today and Colournary Magazine. Kanika was also awarded Darebin Mayor’s Writing Awards 2020’s Best Voice prize.
Kanika’s passion for authentic storytelling has also led them into the facilitation of creative collaboration workshops, as well as the mentoring of young writers. In their free time Kanika enjoys reading, daydreaming and all things food.
Chloe Mills (Festival Manager)
Chloe Mills 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. Her writing has been published widely and she was shortlisted for Overland’s Single Mothers residency in 2019.
Her ghostwriting has appeared in The Guardian and Vogue Australia. In 2021, she collaborated with GurlsTalk, a mental health organisation founded by Adwoa Aboah for their #MakeTheAsk campaign. She has also performed, hosted and panelled for NYWF, QPF, The Saturday Series, QUT, VOLTA and alongside David Malouf. She is the current National Young Writers Festival Manager and grant coordinator for Awesome Black.
Tarni Cruickshank (Volunteer & Production Coordinator)
Tarni is a Bachelor of Communication student at the University of Newcastle, majoring in news media and media arts production. They are based in Newcastle on unceded Awabakal land.
She is an avid lover of words and the many ways we can use them to express ourselves. Being born and raised in Newcastle, Tarni sees the festival as an exciting opportunity to showcase the work of young artists in the many beautiful locations that her hometown has to offer.
Tarni enjoys writing mostly poetry, prose and think-pieces, constantly experimenting with different ways to merge writing with other art forms, making blackout poetry collages, zines and poetry readings layered over short films they have curated. Words have been an important part of Tarni’s life since they were young; she would often make handmade cards for her family members’ birthdays which always included a short story. When asked to recall the beginning of this love for words, the reading of her first piece of literature, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, springs to mind, a timeless book that meant a lot to her as a little girl and opened her eyes to a lifelong passion.
Matthew Tomich (Marketing & Brand Coordinator)
Matthew Tomich is a writer, broadcaster and musician based in Boorloo (Perth), Western Australia. His writing has been published in Voiceworks, Noisey, The West Australian and in various street press publications, including Beat, The Brag, X-Press and The Music. He was an artist at the Emerging Writers’ Festival and NYWF in 2014.
Matthew has worked in strategic communications and programming roles across the arts and community sectors for over eight years, serving in positions at RTRFM, Regional Arts WA and the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA). He is a volunteer grant assessor at the Community Broadcasting Foundation, a former board member of Youth Work WA, and was recently elected to as a Board Director of Propel Youth Arts WA, Western Australia’s peak body for youth arts.
2023 NYWF Board
Jessica Alice (Chair)
Jessica Alice is a poet, writer and arts advocate. She is Chief Executive Officer of Writers SA, the peak organisation for writing and literature in South Australia, and Chair of the Arts Industry Council of South Australia, the state’s independent, sector-wide representative arts body. She holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Cultural Leadership from the National Institute of Dramatic Art. Jessica was formerly Program Manager of Melbourne Writers Festival, a member of the executive leadership team at Regional Arts Victoria as Marketing & Publicity Manager, and she served as the inaugural chair of the Kat Muscat Fellowship for young writers and editors where she remains a custodial committee member. Her poetry and essays are published in Meanjin, Overland, Cordite Poetry Review, Australian Poetry Journal, Guardian Australia, Metro Magazine, and in several anthologies. Jessica was Co-Director of the National Young Writers’ Festival from 2014–15.
Lex Hirst is the Publishing Director at Sydney-based independent publishing house, Pantera Press. A publisher of socially driven, culturally vital books, she is always on the lookout for big ideas, new voices and brilliant storytelling. Lex is also Deputy Chair of the National Young Writers’ Festival Board, having been a previous Co-Director in 2014-15, and an occasional literary event programmer.
Lefa Singleton Norton
Lefa is a disabled freelance writer and creative producer from Melbourne. Currently she works as a Creative Producer for Arts Access Victoria. Most recently she was a contributor to We’ve Got This: Stories by Disabled Parents (Black Inc., 2022) where she wrote about how her feminism and disability politics have shaped her parenting. Lefa’s freelance writing has been featured in publications such as The Age, ABC Everyday, SBS Online, Overland, Junkee and T
Dr Tom Doig is an award-winning author, an academic and an arts worker. His books are Hazelwood (Finalist, 2020 Walkley Book Award), The Coal Face (joint winner, 2015 Oral History Victoria Education Innovation Award) and Mörön to Mörön: Two men, two bikes, one Mongolian misadventure (2013). Tom is a Creative Writing Lecturer at the University of Queensland, with an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Journalism. Tom also has extensive experience in the youth arts, independent publishing and not-for-profit sectors, including: Communications Advisor, Foundation for Young Australians (2010-2012); Associate Producer, Next Wave Festival (2009-2010); Board Member, This is Not Art Festival (2007); Co-Director, National Young Writers’ Festival (2006-2007); Co-Founder, Small Press Network (2006); Board Member, Emerging Writers Festival (2005-6); Peer Assessor, Australia Council for the Arts (2005); Editor Voiceworks magazine (2004-2006). He has served as a mentor for young writers and arts workers across Australia and New Zealand for two decades.
Andia Petropoulos is an experienced professional and lawyer specialising in financial markets, fintech, and law reform. Andia has a broad career encompassing experience working at a global law firm, UN system, stock exchange and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). Demonstrating genuine interest in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Andia was chair of ASX’s Women’s Network and founding member of ASX’s Culture & Heritage Committee. She is currently a member of ASIC’s Women in ASIC Leadership Team. Andia also engages in the not-for-profit community, having previously participated in The Observership Program and held the position of Board Observer with the Sydney Theatre Company in 2020. Andia is an admitted solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and Federal Court of Australia.