black&write! Writing Fellowships

Each year black&write! offers two Fellowships for unpublished manuscripts by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers. 

The winning Fellows work closely with black&write! editors to develop their manuscripts for publication. We are proud to work with our publishing partner, Hachette Australia.

Congratulations to our two 2022 Fellowship recipients Uncle Herbert Wharton AM (QLD) and Lay Maloney (VIC). 

Uncle Herbert Wharton AM, ‘Bird Kingdom’ 

Herbert Wharton is a stockman-turned writer and a descendant of the Kooma People. He started writing poetry and yarn-like novels in his fifties and has published short story collections, poetry, and a young adult novel.  

 ‘Bird Kingdom’ follows Gundu, a mischievous young boy who thinks he and his cat can hunt all the birds of the sky. When Gundu is suddenly transported to the bird kingdom, he faces the consequences of his actions.  

Bird Kingdom is a culturally significant story with a profound moral lesson. 

Lay Maloney, ‘Weaving Us Together’ 

Lay Maloney is a Gumbaynggirr and Gunggandji person of South Sea Islander descent who was born in Cairns and raised in Yarrabah. Lay is a storyteller with a focus on writing and illustrating.   

 Lay’s debut work ‘Weaving Us Together’ is a young adult manuscript about a non-binary Aboriginal person named Jean growing up on Australia’s mid-north coast. The story follows Jean through adolescence as they transverse the ups and downs of life; including finding family, healing trauma, and figuring out who they are.   

‘Weaving Us Together’ is an insightful, and at times hilarious, coming-of-age story from a talented debut author.  

2022 Highly Commended Authors 

  • Edoardo Crismani (SA) for ‘Finding Billy Brown’
  • Bebe Backhouse for ‘if this is the end’
  • Samantha Faulkner (ACT) for ‘Growing Up in the Torres Strait’
  • Jacob Gallagher for ‘The Doubles’

Applications for the 2023 black&write! Fellowships will open later this year. 

Who can enter?

The black&write! Writing Fellowships are open to all writers (published and unpublished) of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent currently living in Australia. The Fellowships are open to:

  • adult fiction
  • young adult fiction
  • short story collection
  • poetry collection
  • children’s book manuscripts.

Entries must include a Confirmation of Aboriginality Form/ Letter of Confirmation with a common seal from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander incorporated community organisation. There is no entry fee.

Entry Guidelines are updated each year and outline the full conditions of entry.

Selection process

  • The Fellowships will be awarded by State Library of Queensland on the advice of a judging panel with extensive knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing.
  • Every eligible entrant will receive individual feedback comments on their manuscripts. Due to the number of manuscripts received the judges cannot provide a detailed manuscript appraisal.
  • The judges’ decision on the eligibility of an entry will be final.  Judges may invite entries for consideration.
  • No correspondence will be entered into once the decision has been announced.
  • All entries must be kept by State Library as a record and will not be returned to the applicant (including manuscripts and CD/USB submitted for judging).
  • State Library reserves the right to:
    • not accept any ineligible, incomplete or late entries
    • not award a Fellowship during a particular round.

Find out more about submitting to the competition

Questions? Email black&write! or call 07 3842 9985.

Sovereign Stories

Every day · 9am–5pm
Come along to our exhibition celebrating 10 years of black&write!

Past winners

Discover past Fellowship winners and their publications.


Discover the books black&write! has helped publish.

black&write! is supported by the Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund, The Lionel & Yvonne Spencer Trust, The Brian J Sutton Charitable Trust and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. We are proud to work with Hachette Australia as the black&write! Fellowship publishing partner.