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2019 Deborah Cass Prize

Date: Tue July 30 2019 10:00 am to Tue September 10 2019 3:59 pm

The Deborah Cass Prize for Writing

Early career writers of migrant background are invited to apply for the 2019 Deborah Cass prize.

The winner receives a cash prize of $3,000 plus a three-month mentorship with an established writer. The winning manuscript is presented to Black Inc. publishers for consideration, with the winning excerpt published in Mascara Literary Review. The award package is designed to help an early-career writer finish their manuscript and get their book published.

Deborah Cass (1960-2013) made significant contributions to legal scholarship, and focused on creative writing after retiring from her academic position. The Deborah Cass Prize was established in 2015 by Deborah’s friends and family. As the granddaughter of European refugees, the family felt that Deborah would like one of her legacies to be the nurture of writing talent in people whose voices would add fresh perspectives on Australian culture. 

Now in its fifth year, the prize, which is administered by Writers Victoria, has already kickstarted many successful literary careers among its winners and runners up. 

The 2019 prize will be judged by Melanie Cheng, Nyadol Nyuon and Lee Kofman.

Writers can apply online through this Submittable page, until the closing date: 4pm AEDT, Monday 9 September.

How to apply

To apply, please click the button below.
For more information, email Deanne or visit the Deborah Cass Prize website.


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 either have been 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 who 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 this is not offered in 2019).
  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 through this form (no printed or emailed 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 the publisher the full manuscript when it is completed and give them first right of acceptance (within three months of viewing the full manuscript).
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