What Matters to you? We’re listening

year 7-8 winner Saakshi Koul  

Young people are disengaged and disaffected, right? Our experience tells us that the exact opposite is true.

The Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University is again calling for students in years 5-12 across NSW, the ACT and Tasmania to take a moment to reflect. To take a moment to think about what matters to them, what they think other people should pay attention to – and put it down in writing.

The competition, which closes on 5 May, calls on students to submit a 400 - 600 word opinion piece.

In 2016 we had an astonishing 3870 submissions from young people across NSW, the ACT and Tasmania. The depth of thought that went into these entries challenges perceptions about Gen Z – they were impressive, moving and inspiring.

The team at the Whitlam Institute believe that young people's voices are important. Through our programs we hope to inspire young people to think critically and to take action on the things that matter to them.

The What Matters? Competition provides the foundation to all of the Institute's school programs. The competition empowers young people to think, to write, and to have a voice about the things that really matter to them.

What Matters 2016 finalists


  • The overall competition winner will receive an iPad.
    In 2017, for the first time, the overall winner will also be invited to spend a day* at the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) at Old Parliament House in Canberra – meeting a curator, getting behind the scenes and contributing their voice to MoAD's programs. The overall winner will be selected from finalists in NSW, the ACT and What Matters? Tasmania.
  • Each category winner will be awarded $350, and $200 for each category runner-up.
  • The Years 5/6 and 7/8 category winners will each receive a full-day creative writing workshop donated by The Writing Workshop, conducted by award-winning author Bernard Cohen.
  • The Year 9/10 category winner will also be invited to spend a day at ReachOut.com, meeting the team and receiving professional training.  They will also be offered the opportunity to be paid $200 to produce a feature article for the ReachOut.com website.
  • The Year 11/12 category winner will receive a 1 Year Membership to the NSW Writers' Centre (opens in a new window), and the opportunity to participate in a one-day writing workshop* donated by the NSW Writers' Centre
  • Winners and runners-up will receive their prize at an awards ceremony, following their participation in a Young Writers Forum at Western Sydney University's Parramatta campus.
  • All winning entries will be published in print and online.

Entries close Friday 5 May 2017. 

Entry forms can be downloaded from www.whitlam.org/whatmatters (opens in a new window). For more information, contact the Whitlam Institute on (02) 9685 9210 or whatmatters@whitlam.org.

*Conditions apply. Please see whitlam.org/whatmatters for more info.

For interviews, photos, previous winning entries and video content contact Amy Sambrooke or Jenna Beck.


31 January 2017

Media unit