Stories That Change - 2021 writing competition

The Stories That Change writing competition has drawn to a close and we received over 200 entries from 91 schools across Victoria!

Thank you to all students and staff who entered the competition; for sharing your interpretations of the Stories That Change theme. The judging panel was most impressed with the quality and originality of the entries.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners and runners-up for the Stories That Change competition. Congratulations! You can view each of the entries below. The winning entries will also be published in the upcoming edition of Idiom.

Year 7 and 8 category
There were 93 entries in this category
Athan Siapikoudis (Ivanhoe Grammar School) - ‘Jute Leaf Soup

Sienna Dobson (Ruyton Girls’ School) - ‘Distant Heart

Year 9 and 10 category
There were 67 entries in this category
Julie Hoang (Nazareth College) - ‘Away
Jem Thomas (Brighton Grammar School) – ‘Nick David!

Charlotte Bennett (Mercy Regional College) – ‘The Playground
Joselyn Bennetts (Bacchus Marsh Grammar) – ‘The Whistling in the Wind

Year 11 and 12 category
There were 28 entries in this category
Laura Flanagan (Caroline Chisholm Catholic College) – ‘Reflection

Elliot Perez (Beaconhills College Pakenham Campus) – ‘Always
Isabella Greco (Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School) – ‘Untitled (The Adoption Story)

Teacher category
There were 14 entries in this category
Alanah Andrews (Traralgon College) – ‘To Alaska

Pat Bruce (St Alban's Secondary College) – ‘Equations

VATE will once again run a writing competition for members in 2022.  Stay tuned for our communications and announcement of the theme toward the end of the year.

VATE is proud to announce our 2021 writing competition Stories That Change.

The writing competition

Building on the runaway success of Stories for Strange Times, we are expanding our short story competition. Entry will remain free for students and staff at schools with 2021 VATE membership. We are once again asking for short stories no more than 1000 words in length, this time addressing the theme “Stories That Change”. In 2021 there will be four categories:

Years 7-8 students | Years 9-10 students | Years 11-12 students | Staff

Entry will open on Friday 5 February 2021 and close 5pm on Friday 25 June. Entries of no more than 1000 words should be emailed to An application form to accompany each short story entry is available as a Word document. The competition is open to all staff and schools that have 2021 VATE membership. To check your member details, please email The winner in each category will receive a $150 book voucher from our friends The Little Bookroom/Neighbourhood Books.

Find out more here!

Teaching and learning package

We also have a new and improved teaching and learning package available for purchase tied to the Stories That Change competition. This year we are featuring three wonderful authors speaking directly to students about their craft. Featured throughout the series of episodes are Cath Moore, author of Metal Fish, Falling Snow, Vivian Pham, author of The Coconut Children, and Ellen Van Neerven, author of Throat and Heat and Light, amongst other works.

The package features four episodes, each with extensive advice from all three writers. Episode One focuses on finding inspiration, Episode Two on building a world, Episode Three on character and Episode Four on editing.

Each episode is also accompanied by a series of activities, taking students through the process of creating their own story. Finally, the package also includes written and visual stimulus addressing the “Stories That Change” theme, and a list of suggested reading for students and teachers alike.

Register for the package here!



Born in Guyana, Cath Moore is of Irish/Afro-Caribbean heritage. Raised in Australia she has also lived in Scotland and Belgium. Cath is also an award-winning screenwriter, teacher and filmmaker. She holds an MA in screenwriting and a PhD in Danish screenwriting practices. Metal Fish, Falling Snow is Cath’s first novel and winner of the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Writing.

‘Just be curious.’ Cath


Vivian Pham is a Vietnamese-Australian fiction writer, closet poet, amateur screenwriter, and university student currently completing a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Philosophy. In 2018 and 2019, Vivian attended the International Congress of Youth Voices and shared a stage with incongruously successful writers and activists like Dave Eggers, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Rep. John Lewis and Khaled Hosseini. It is her greatest hope to have an impact on political issues through her creative work.

‘I feel like a lot of that book was me trying to… bridge the distance between me and my parents and me and my culture….’ Vivian




Ellen van Neerven is an award-winning author, editor and educator of Mununjali (Yugambeh language group) and Dutch heritage. They write fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, and play football on unceded Turrbal and Yuggera land. Ellen’s latest book is Throat.

‘I think it’s just about letting yourself be free.’ Ellen