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Calling all young writers in Years 3 to 10!
For the very first time, the Pens Against Poverty competition has landed in South Australia.

This is a unique chance to write a poem or short story and contribute to raising awareness on the issue of poverty and homelessness. This year’s theme is ‘Time for Change’.

On offer are some great prizes and what’s even more amazing is that every entry is judged by award-winning Australian writer Jackie French OAM.

Entries close on Friday 3 September with winners announced during Anti-Poverty Week in mid-October.

We encourage parents and schools to get their young talent involved and educate our future generations on the issue of poverty.

Why should I enter Pens Against Poverty?

Below are four reasons why you should get young writers involved in the competition.

1. To challenge your creative writing ability

Imagination, lateral thinking and creativity are encouraged in Pens Against Poverty.

The Pens Against Poverty competition gives you full flexibility to submit any form of creative writing up to 500 words — a shorter poem or a longer story.

We encourage participants to think outside the square and use their imagination. Your story could talk about poverty in a practical sense, or dive into the more emotional and metaphorical side.

Get inspired: The Pens Against Poverty competition began in the ACT in 2015, where the inaugural winner submitted a 31-word poem.

A cardboard box is my home,
An optimistic attempt at a shelter
That thin walls and poor ventilation
Might be the palace of a god
Yet I am not a god

Leo Barnard, Canberra Grammar School Year 8 Student

2. To get reviewed by one of Australia’s most accomplish authors

Jackie French OAM

It’s not every day that you get your writing judged by award-winning Australian author Jackie French, as well as Australian poet John Foucher.

Jackie has won more than 60 awards in Australia and overseas. From Diary of a Wombat (2002) and Pete the Sheep (2004) through to the recently bushfire-inspired The Fire Wombat (2020), her books are a mainstay on the shelves of many Australian homes and libraries.

“Don’t worry so much about the words. First you need to feel something; you need to empathise with people and with the environment around you. Then the words will naturally come.”

Jackie French

3. To win some great prizes

2020 Pens Against Poverty ACT award winners.

By entering Pens Against Poverty, you have the chance to win some amazing individual and school prizes.

A winner and highly commended for both the poetry and short story competition will be chosen from each of the four age categories (Year 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10).

Prizes on offer:

  • Poetry ‘winner’ – $40 voucher + book (valued at $20)
  • Poetry ‘highly commended award’ – $20 voucher + book (valued at $20)
  • Short Story ‘winner’ – $40 voucher + book (valued at $20)
  • Short Story ‘highly commended award’ – $20 voucher + book (valued at $20)

Other awards:

  • Jackie French Young Writers Development Award$200 voucher
  • John Foulcher Young Writers Achievement Award $200 voucher
  • Individual State Schools Awards$100 voucher

4. To educate others on the issue of poverty and homelessness in Australia

By participating in Pens Against Poverty, you will help raise awareness on an important issue.

Did you know that there are 3.24 million people in Australia living below the poverty line?

This includes 774,000 children and 424,800 young people. In dollar figures, this poverty line works out to $457 a week for a single adult living alone; or $960 a week for a couple with 2 children.

The 2016 ABS Census determined that in Australia there are 116,427 people who are homeless. On any given night in South Australia, there are 5,985 people experiencing homelessness.

By participating in Pens Against Poverty, you are helping raise vital awareness and changing stigma, which all contributes to lifting families out of poverty.

How to enter

  • To be valid, entries must be received by Friday 3 September 2021.
  • It must be an original POEM or STORY and be no more than 500 words.
  • The theme ‘Time for Change’ should be a focus of the story or poem in some way, however, the theme does not need to be overdone. Imagination, lateral thinking and creativity are encouraged.
  • All submissions must be entered online by a teacher or adult.
  • No more than three entries per student.

The judges will determine the winners based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrates empathy and humanity through creative writing
  • Creative treatment of the competition theme
  • Effective control of language to communicate meaning

Winners will be announced during Anti-Poverty Week (17-23 October 2021).

Writing tips

Don’t know where to start? Check out some of the great writing resources below.