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. The 2018 festival will take place between September 27–30.

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.


Jini Maxwell

Festival Co-Director

Jini Maxwell makes sincere, playful work, both on and offline. She has published comics, poetry, non-fiction, memoir and hypertext, and until recently, worked on a research project writing comics about mental health. She is constantly looking for new ways to do things with pictures and words. Her work as an arts producer focusses on  accessibility, digital creativity, and in collapsing the binary of serious and playful work. She is a firm believer in creating an arts community that gives more people a chance to be in the room.


Twitter: @astroblob

Jesse Oliver

Festival Co-Director

Who likes feelings anyway? Jesse sure does. He is also believes that the intimacy of writing, reading and poetry has a powerful potential for change. Over the past 4 years, Jesse has appeared as an artist on platforms such as the National Young Writers Festival, the Emerging Writers festival, and the Digital Writers Festival spreading his manifestos of love and acceptance. In 2017, he battled it out in the Australian Poetry Slam to be awarded the title of Australian Poetry Slam Champion 2017 – Adult. Now, Jesse has turned his attention to empowering others, building an army of young writers, helping the world grow and getting around to finishing his novel.


Twitter: @jesseslamoliver

Maggie Thompson

Festival Co-Director

Maggie works in book publishing and is an Associate handling international and subsidiary rights at independent publisher, Allen & Unwin, in Sydney. She has edited student publications, produced radio and has degrees in English literature and law. She loves finding out what books mean to other people and making connections across Australia and the world, based on reading and writing.


Twitter: @mobythompson

Caleb Triscari

Festival Co-Director

Caleb Triscari is a journalist, producer, and former editor of Farrago, the student publication of the University of Melbourne. Since then, he has been published in JunkeeThe Saturday PaperDaily Review and regularly reports for Panorama on SYN 90.7FM. He is currently the subeditor at SmartCompany.


Twitter: @calebjtriscari

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 book publishing and is a Senior Publicist (Children’s & Young Adult) at Allen & Unwin in Sydney. Prior to that, she worked at HarperCollins and was an editor for a self-publishing company in QLD. She is the co-creator of The Regal Fox, a website that showcases fiction and non-fiction from writers all around the world.

Twitter:  @Jessica_Seaborn

Raelee Lancaster

Raelee Lancaster

Creative Producer

Raelee Lancaster is a poet, research assistant and budding Arts and GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) professional. Raelee’s creative work has been published in Overland, Voiceworks, Rabbit and other print and online publications. Recently, her poetry won the Nakata Brophy Prize Young Indigenous Writers and featured in the EX-EMBASSY exhibition and text series in Berlin. Raised on Awabakal land in Toronto NSW, Raelee has ties to the Wiradjuri nation.

Thomas Hamilton

Younger Queer Writers' Program Producer

Thomas is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Communication program at the
University of Newcastle where he majored in Media Studies and also was
involved with the student branch of Amnesty International and the student
Queer Collective. He also has heavily been involved in volunteering within the
cultural sector over the past four years at events such as Tropfest, Newcastle
Writer’s Festival and most recently assisting with the Social Media for the 2018
Mardi Gras Film Festival. He also has grown up in the Newcastle theatre
community, which has been a major creative influence on him. He is looking
forward to bringing together both the creative and activist aspects of him
through empowering LGBTIQ+ voices as the 2018 Queer Producer for NYWF.





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.

Steph Harmon

Steph Harmon is the culture editor of Guardian Australia. Prior to that, she was founding editor of, a politics, culture and comment site which publishes the best young writers around Australia. Before Junkee, she was editor of Sydney music and arts streetpress The Brag – with odd jobs at triple j, Radio National, and basically any outlet that would take her. She tweets from @stephharmon

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran is Associate Editor of Previously Bhakthi was a journalist and editor at The Age and Sydney Morning Herald covering arts, entertainment and business. She co-hosted the podcast Hard Bargain, is a regular media commentator and and sits on the board of the National Young Writers Festival.

Twitter: @bhakthi


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