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Daisy Utemorrah Award

The 2020 Daisy Utemorrah Award is now closed. The winner will be announced at the WA Premier's Book Award ceremony in July.

The Daisy Utemorrah Award is for an unpublished manuscript of junior or YA fiction. The Award is open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples currently living in Australia. Generously supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and the State Government of Western Australia, the winner of the award receives $15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books.

Published and unpublished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers of all ages are eligible to enter with works of junior or YA fiction.

Any queries please contact our Project Officer, Kate Rendell projects@magabala.com or call Magabala Books (08) 9192 1991

Magabala Books are proud to present the Daisy Utemorrah Award as part of the WA Premier’s Books Awards. The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the State Library of Western Australia in July 2020.

Launched in 2019, this national award recognises excellence in junior and YA fiction and seeks to grow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing for younger readers.

‘Our young people need stories... They need stories that speak of how to get through tough times, and stories that celebrate who they are and who they can be. The Daisy Utemorrah Award is an incredible opportunity for a First Nations voice to speak, and the story they will tell will help to nurture the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytellers.’ – Ambelin Kwaymullina

Information on the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards can be found through the State Library of Western Australia.

2019 Award Winner

Pictured: the Hon. David Templeman, WA Minister for Local Government; Heritage; Culture and the Arts, with Kirli Saunders and Rachel Bin Salleh, Publisher Magabala Books

In July 2019, Kirli Saunders was awarded the inaugural Daisy Utemorrah Award for her rhythmic junior verse-novel, Mother Speaks.

Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai woman, with ties to the Yuin, Gundungurra, Gadigal and Biripi people, and currently resides on Dharawal Country. She is an international children’s author, poet, emerging playwright and artist. Of her win Kirli said:

‘It is a real privilege to be the inaugural recipient of the Daisy Utemorrah Award and to follow in the footsteps of a powerful poet and educator who spoke her truth.’

The Award Judges, Ambelin Kwaymullina and Rachel Bin Salleh, were impressed with the high standard of entries for the award. Of Kirli’s winning work they said:

‘Mother Speaks is a lovely, lyrical exploration of the wisdom of the earth. The gentle rhythm of the verse speaks to the patterns and cycles of the nature, and every line holds deep meaning that can be revisited many times over – this a story that will delight adults and children alike.’

Magabala Books will publish Kirli’s winning manuscript in 2020.

2019 Award Shortlist

The Daisy Utemorrah Award shortlisted manuscripts were:

The shortlisted manuscripts were selected from an impressive pool of entries which included both emerging writers and award-winning authors. Judges for the award were Ambelin Kwaymullina, award-winning writer of YA and illustrator-author of children’s picture books, and Rachel Bin Salleh, publisher at Magabala Books.

Daisy Utemorrah



The award is named in honour of author and poet Daisy Utemorrah, who was an elder of the Wunambal people from the Mitchell Plateau area in the far north Kimberley and one of the founding Elders of Magabala Books. Born in 1922 at Kunmunya Mission, Daisy was an award-winning poet, author, community leader and passionate educator. Daisy’s poetry collection Do Not Go Around the Edges (illus by Pat Torres), published by Magabala Books in 1991, was shortlisted for the 1991 CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, and won the 1992 Australian Multicultural Children’s Book Award.

Magabala is grateful to Daisy Utemorrah’s family who have given permission for us to honour her memory with this award.

The Daisy Utemorrah Award is generously supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and Post Pre-Press.