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2017 Deborah Cass Prize

Date: Mon October 16 2017 5:00 pm to Tue October 17 2017 4:59 pm

Early career writers of migrant background are invited to apply for the 2017 Deborah Cass prize.

The prize is in the memory of Deborah Cass. The granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, Deborah Cass became a prize-winning professor of International Law at the London School of Economics. After diagnosis of cancer, Deborah left her academic career and focused on creative writing. She had a number of short fiction pieces published, but was unable to realise her aim to complete a novel. With generous support from family and friends, this prize aims to help someone outside the mainstream find a voice for themselves.

Three of Australia’s leading writers, Christos Tsiolkas, Alice Pung and Tony Ayres, are the judges of the prize again in 2017.

The winner will receive a cash prize of $3,000 plus a three-month mentorship with an established writer. The winning manuscript will be presented to Black Inc. There is also the opportunity for publication of the winning excerpt in Mascara Literary Review.

How to apply

Applications must be made online before 5pm, 16 October 2017.

For more information, email Adriane or visit the Deborah Cass Prize website

Key dates

  • Competition closes: 5pm, 16 October 2017
  • Shortlist announced: November
  • Winner announced: December

Terms and Conditions


Applicants will provide a writing sample of no more than 3,000 words. The writing sample must not contain the name of the applicant. The winning writer will promote the prize. The winner will also work with a mentor to complete their work within 12 months at which point it will be submitted to a publisher who has 3 months to consider publication of the work.

Applicant requirements

1.    Applicants must be early career writers with fewer than 10 publications (articles, short stories or poetry) and no full-length book published or contracted for publication.
2.    Applicants must be either born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas.
3.    Applicants agree to being promoted if they are the winner or selected for special mention by the judges.
4.    Employees and Committee of Management members of Writers Victoria are not eligible to enter.

Application requirements

Please take note of the application requirements carefully as Writers Victoria is unable to accept entries or notify entrants that do not follow all the terms and conditions correctly:
1.    The writing sample should reflect at least in part on the migrant experience
2.    Entries must not have been published or accepted for publication by a recognised publisher, in print or online. They can have been published in community publications, local independent publications or blogs.
3.    Applicants may submit a maximum of one entry.
4.    The writing sample must be submitted in English (in future years the Prize may be able to offer translation services but it is not offered in 2017).
5.    The writing sample must be no more than 3,000 words (being either an extract of a longer work or a complete work).
6.    The writing sample must include the title of the work in the header.
7.    The writing sample must not include the name of the applicant.
8.    The application must be submitted online (no printed applications will be accepted).

Supporting statement

Each entrant is invited to provide an optional supporting statement of no more than 600 words in support of their application.
Please state in 600 words or less why you have entered your work in the Prize, what the status of your work is (short story, excerpt of memoir or novel etc.), the concept of the larger work, and what you hope to achieve in writing your work.


1.    Entries will be independently judged
2.    The judges’ decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
3.    The judges may select applicants for special mention and runners up, who will be promoted.

Winners and runners-up

1.    The name of the winner and runners up selected by the judges will be announced on the Deborah Cass Prize website, Writers Victoria website and associated media.
2.    The winning story will be published on the Deborah Cass Prize website.
3.    The winner must acknowledge the Deborah Cass Prize in any publication resulting from work created as a result of the prize.
4.    The Winner will write a 200-word testimonial about the winning the prize for publication on the Deborah Cass Prize website and/or media releases.
5.    The Winner will write a 300-word article about winning the prize for publication on The Victorian Writer magazine and/or Writers Victoria website.
6.    The Winner may choose to accept a mentor chosen by the Prize who will work with the winner for a period of not more than 3 months.
7.    The winning manuscript will be presented to a publisher. The writer agrees to show publisher the full manuscript when it’s completed and give them first right of acceptance (within three months of viewing the full manuscript).

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