What Matters to young people? Entries now open!

Date: 09/02/2009

Are you in years 5 - 12 in NSW or the ACT? Do you have an opinion about what matters to you in the world at the moment? Turn on your computer, get out your pen and paper and get writing now.

The Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney is once again calling on young people to share their views on what it will take to build a better society.

The 2009 'What Matters?' essay competition, proudly sponsored by Officeworks, is an opportunity for students in years 5-12 in NSW and ACT schools to have their voices heard, by submitting a 400-600 word opinion piece on the issues in society that are important to them.

Director of the Whitlam Institute, Mr Eric Sidoti, says it's the simplest of thoughts that often inspire the 'What Matters?' competition.

"In previous years, the entries have shown that Australian students are passionate, caring and have an understanding of the most pertinent global issues," says Mr Sidoti.

"Amidst all the surveys, research and reports that are generated about young people, it really is very nice occasionally to allow them to speak for themselves."

Amelia Adam, the 2008 competition winner from Coonabarabran High School says the 'What Matters?' competition offered a wealth of opportunities.

"It has not only given me the opportunity to do radio interviews and meet a former Prime Minister of Australia, but it has helped me start to believe in my ability to write," she says.

"Younger people's perspectives are often overlooked, so it is great that the Whitlam Institute is giving the younger generation a voice and a chance to express their concerns and opinions about the world today."

Officeworks Public Relations Manager, Felicia Booth, says Officeworks is proud to support this most worthwhile competition, which "provides both a forum and incentive for young people to identify, express and share their views on social issues pertinent to themselves and their peers."

In 2008, a total of 860 students submitted essays on a diverse range of topics including global warming, the environment, poverty and the importance of family and friends.

Essays will be judged by Andrew West, journalist, Sydney Morning Herald; Julie Hare, Editor-in-Chief, APN Educational Media; Emily Rodda, author; Deborah Cameron, Mornings Presenter, 702 ABC Sydney; and Eric Brace, The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation.

The overall winner will be announced at a special awards ceremony, to be attended by former Prime Minister, the Hon. Gough Whitlam and competition patron Hugh Mackay.

The generous support of Officeworks has made it possible for each category winner and runner-up to be awarded cash prizes and an invitation to attend a Young Writers Workshop, and each participating school will also be part of a draw for 5 prizes to the value of $1,000 each.

As an additional prize, ActNow, an initiative of the Inspire Foundation, will also offer the year 11/12 category winner a place in their 'Cash for Comment' writing program, where they will be invited to participate in an all expenses paid two-day workshop and have the opportunity to be paid for their work.

All winning entries will be published on the Whitlam Institute website.

Entries close Wednesday 1 April, 2009. Application forms can be downloaded from: http://www.whitlam.org/. For more information, contact the Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney: (02) 9685 9161.



Media Officer

Danielle Roddick
02 9678 7086, 0414 308 701