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Scholarships

Joshua Button working on an illustration for ‘Steve goes to Carnival’ (Joshua Button and Robyn Wells, Magabala 2016)

2020 Creative Development Scholarships are now open for entry!

Magabala Scholarships support professional development activity relating to writing, illustration and storytelling, which may result in a manuscript for potential publication. Scholarships are self-customised to meet the development needs of the individual creator.

2020 scholarships will support creative and professional development activity that will be carried out between December 2020 and December 2021. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytellers, writers, illustrators and artists of any genre are eligible to apply. Scholarship proposals are welcomed from both emerging and established creators.


The financial assistance that can be applied for may include, but is not limited to:

    • Editorial support;
    • Writing, illustration, editorial mentoring fees or workshop;
    • Securing a manuscript assessment or initial edit of a manuscript;
    • Payment of course fees or training expenses (not including university level fees);
    • Purchasing illustration materials for a specific project;
    • Travel assistance to attend a professional development workshop or experience;
    • Creator fees up to $1000 to work on a specific project.

While we do not specify individual funding limits, we encourage applicants to budget realistically and list all costs. Previously awarded scholarships, on average, have ranged between $500 and $5000. Magabala may seek to negotiate the scale of the budget with applicants.

Scholars are selected by Magabala Books and subject to Board approval. Selection is based on the feasibility of the project, the quality of example work and the benefit to the creator.

How to apply for a Scholarship

  1. 1. Fill out an Entry Form.
  2. 2. Write a brief Expression of Interest (EOI), addressing the guidelines.
  3. 3. Attach confirmation of your Aboriginality and/or Torres Strait Islander identity.
  4. 4. Attach writing samples or copies of your illustrations/artwork. Do not send originals.
  5. 5. Attach a good quality (high res) photograph of yourself (portrait)
  6. 6. Submit all of the above via email to projects@magabala.com 

    Applications close: 11 October 2020

    Please contact: Kate Rendell projects@magabala.com or call Magabala Books on 08 9192 1991 with any questions or to discuss your scholarship proposal ideas.


    Magabala Scholar profile - Samantha Fry

    Samantha Fry, on right, with Rachel Bin Salleh at the launch of Alfred's War

    “Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be an illustrator, so it was a dream come true to get the scholarship and work on the book with Rachel Bin Salleh.” – Samantha Fry

    In 2016 Samantha Fry received a Magabala Creative Development Scholarship to fund a mentorship learning the craft of illustration. Working with established illustrator and designer Tracey Gibbs, Samantha was mentored through the complete process of illustrating a manuscript, from roughs, story-boarding and design to final publication.

    The outcome, Alfred's War by Rachel Bin Salleh and illustrated by Samantha Fry, was published in April 2018 to critical acclaim. In 2020 Magabala Books published Samantha Fry's second illustrated title, Brother Moon by Maree McCarthy Yoelu.


    Previous Scholarship recipients

    2019 Scholars

    Robyn Jean (WA) is completing a writing mentorship to work on her poetry collection, themed around poetic responses to mental illness.

    Neville Poelina (WA) is receiving a mentorship to develop his biography/ life story into a manuscript through transcription and editorial support.

    Rowena Morgan (WA) will undertake a mentorship to learn the art of book illustration and work towards producing a children’s picture book.

    Dub Leffler (Qld) will undertake a writing mentorship to further develop his writing for children and the sequel to Once There was a Boy.

    Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr (NT) is completing a mentorship to produce illustrations for a forthcoming children’s picture book.

    2017/2018 Scholars

    Barbara Marie Sheehy (QLD) enrolled in the ‘Create A Picture Book’ online course and mentoring program throughout 2018.

    Bronwyn Houston (TAS) travelled to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March 2018.

    Charmaine Ledden-Lewis (NSW), winner of the 2019 Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award, received mentoring with Cathie Tasker for the development of illustrations for Found.

    Natalie Davey (WA) is currently engaged in a writer’s mentorship, through the Australian Writers Centre, to work on a children’s book manuscript.

    Gregg Dreise (QLD) attended a digital illustration workshop with David Hardy
    (Magabala illustrator and former Disney illustrator) in Sydney.

    Brenton (Ezra) McKenna (WA), author of the Ubby’s Underdogs trilogy series, attended the Australian Comic Arts Festival in Canberra.

    Illustrator Karen Gibson (QLD) was supported to undertake a mentorship with children’s book designer Jo Hunt.

    Author and illustrator Paul Seden (NT) was awarded a mentorship to develop his writing for children with publishing industry expert Helen Chamberlin.

    Magabala authors and illustrators Samantha Fry (NT), Dub Leffler (NSW) and Gregg Dreise (QLD) were supported to participate in the Woylie Festival: Aboriginal Australian Kids Story Festival in Fremantle in early 2018.

    Johnny Malibirr (NT), winner of the inaugural Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award, received mentoring from Margaret Whiskin in his home community of Gapuwiyak for the development of his illustrations for Little Bird’s Day.

    2016 Scholars

    Enoch Mailangi (QLD), a poet who lives in Sydney, received a mentorship with a poetry specialist to further develop his work.

    Samantha Fry (NT) received a mentorship to learn the craft of illustration and illustrate her first children’s picture book, Alfred's War. Samantha went on to also illustrate Brother Moon by Maree McCarthy Yoelnu in 2020.

    Bruno Starrs (WA), an award-winning playwright and novelist and a descendant of the Pitjantjatjara people, received professional manuscript assessment of his fourth novel.

    Kamsani Bin Salleh (WA), a Noongar and Nimunburr artist, designer and illustrator, received a mentorship to learn the craft of book illustration. 

    Brenton (Ezra) McKenna (WA) received specialist mentoring and training within the graphic novel genre and attended the Australian Comics Festival.

    Sharon Hughes (VIC) participated in a specialised writing workshop through ASA in Victoria.

    Maree Yoelnu McCarthy (NT) received a mentorship to develop her writing for children’s books with publishing industry expert Helen Chamberlin, undertaken in 2018. She published her first book Brother Moon in 2020.

    Gregg Dreise (QLD), a Kamilaroi and Yuwalayaay author and illustrator of three children’s picture books – Silly Birds, Kookoo Kookaburra and Mad Magpie – received a mentorship to further develop his next book in the series: Cunning Crow.

    2015 Scholars

    Jane Harrison (NSW), author of Becoming Kirrali Lewis, was supported to attend the world-class Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in October 2015.

    Paul Seden (NT), author of the award-winning Crabbing with Dadreceived mentoring in illustration for work on Lorraine Teece's children’s title, Molly the Pirate

    Fern Martins (NSW), illustrator of The Spotty Dotty Lady, Bubbay's Desert Adventure and The Toast Tree, used her scholarship funds to purchase art equipment to develop her digital illustration skills.

    Sharona Wilson (WA) an emerging illustrator, utilised her scholarship funds to purchase art supplies.

    2014 Scholars

    Tori-Jay Mordey (QLD), illustrator of Bakir and Bi, used her scholarship funds to purchase multimedia equipment. 

    Reggie Sultan (NT) received support to attend an illustrator's workshop in Sydney.

    Maureen Nampijimpa O'Keefe (NT), an author and artist from Alice Springs received mentoring to work on her children's book manuscript and related travel assistance. 

    Samuel Stream (WA), a Broome based artist and illustrator originally from Marble Bar, used his scholarship to attend a workshop in Perth and purchase art materials.

    2013 Scholars

    Archie Weller (WA) enlisted a cultural advisor to assist with Nyoongar philosophy and language, as well as deepening the cultural integrity of his work. “This kind of specialised assistance is expensive and hard to find.”

    Dub Leffler (QLD), author and illustrator of Once There Was a Boy, purchased high quality art materials and drawing equipment.

    Jannali Jones (NSW), author of My Father's Shadow published in 2019, received professional editorial mentoring on early drafts of the manuscript. 

    Joshua Button (WA) worked closely with a mentor on his second manuscript, Steve Goes to Carnival published in 2016.

    Fern Martins (NSW) used her scholarship funding to acquire a light box for drawing and illustration.


    Support the Magabala Scholarships program

    With your donation we can continue to support the creative development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and illustrators.