Regional Arts Development Central West NSW

Varuna National Writers’ First Nations Fellowships


Each year, six fellowships are awarded to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers from anywhere in Australia.

This fellowship program is open to writers of all genres of fiction, narrative non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, graphic novels, dramatic/screen writing, writing for radio, translation, young adult, essays or short fiction. Submissions in language are welcomed.

The fellowship week includes an optional one-on-one mentoring session, and group reading sessions. Writers will also be offered the opportunity to have a discussion with Rachel Bin Salleh, Publisher at Magabala Books in a culturally safe space.

First Nations Fellowships also include an optional publishing appraisal from Magabala Books, Australia’s leading Indigenous publisher, for any work that you complete as a result of this fellowship, available for up to 18 months following the period of your fellowship.

The Fellowship includes accommodation and meals at Varuna, as well as a contribution towards your travel expenses to and from Katoomba, depending on where you live.


Applications for the 2023 program close 20 January 2023. The residency week will take place from Monday 20 November to Monday 27 November, 2023.  Please note that these dates are different to those initially advertised.


You will need to send us up to 10,000 words from the beginning of your manuscript. You can also submit your work in the form of recorded audio if you prefer. For poetry entries, please submit up to 10 poems. For graphic novels, please submit up to 20 pages. If you’re not sure what to submit, please give us a call on 02 4782 5674.


Fellowships will be awarded based primarily on the merit of your writing. Selectors will also consider the potential role of your work in maintaining culture, such as educating the community regarding Indigenous issues, providing an authentic voice in Australian writing, maintaining language, or recording community stories.

Varuna appoints a First Nations selection panel each year, and submissions are read by all assessors.


There is no application fee for this program, nor for the residency itself.


You’ll find answers to some common questions in our FAQ.
Please also feel free to get in touch by email or by phone 02 4782 5674. Should you have any difficulty completing the application, we will be very happy to assist you with completing your application over the phone.