There is No Place Like Home
Under this apt title the 2004 Refugee Story Competition has just been launched by Australians Against Racism. Last year's competition was called "Australia Is Refugees!" - and it was a resounding success.
At the time we supported the initiative, and the results of the 2003 competion came, apart from the prizes for the winning entries, in two ways: first the booklet with the winning essays, and more recently - in February 2004 - with the publication of the excellent collection of 37 stories under the title "Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories" by Wakefield Press.
Both publications are available from us: just click on the images to visit the page for each book.
23 February 2004: Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories - With editors Sonja Dechian, Heather Millar and Eva Sallis, this is another remarkable book published under auspices of Australians Against Racism. The book is the result of many refugee stories that were submitted for the Australia Is Refugees Essay Competition for young writers in 2003 in primary and secondary schools around Australia.
20 February 2004: The SIEV X National Memorial Project - The SIEV X National Memorial Project is an Australia-wide Young People's Art Collaboration, to design and build a memorial to the people of SIEV X, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, the national capital.
14 February 2004: The Field of Hearts project, the brainchild of Andrew Hall - Andrew Hall of Public Servants for Refugees in Canberra conceived it, and the momentum of this important project is building in preparation for World Refugee Day 2004, and the planned convergence on Canberra prior to the 2004 Federal Election. At Project SafeCom we're part of the action!
NOTE: The text below has been adapted from the Information flyer and enrolment form for the 2004 competition - you can read this page as an introduction. To take part, simply download the flyer - available below as a PDF file.
On the theme There is No Place Like Home, school children will be encouraged to find and interview someone who was driven or torn from their home and forced to begin a new life and make a new home among strangers. Children and young adults will be invited to find and tell the stories of refugee or Indigenous Australians, displaced peoples from recent times or from the distant past. The competition will encourage the discovery of the meaning and experience of exile or forced dispossession, but participants will also discover how their peers or elders survived and rebuilt their lives.
The 2004 competition will build on the successes of the 2002 experience. Again writers will be given absolute freedom of discovery, opinion and mode of expression. And again, prominent Australian authors will be the judges. And Australians Against Racism will again coordinate this competition entirely on donations of time, money and skills.
Many people in Australia have been driven or torn from their homes, often because of war, prejudice or injustice. In the last 50 years, more than 600,000 new Australians were welcomed here to rebuild their lives after they fled extreme danger, imprisonment, even torture in their original countries. In the past 200+ years indigenous Australians have faced various forms of disposession, including being forced from their homelands or being taken from their parents.
Your challenge is to narrate a good story that is true. You will have to find a subject who is a displaced person and interview him or her. You will then have to retell this story in your own words, possibly using quotes from your subject and other writing techniques to bring the story to life.
Find and interview someone who has been forced to begin a new life and make a new home among strangers. You could find and speak to someone who is a refugee from one of the many countries around the world - from recent times or from the near or distant past - or you could listen to the story of an indigenous Australian. You might have one of these stories to be found in your own family, in yourself, in your community, or in the communities of your friends.
You could ask your subject:
Where did you come from?
Why and how were you forced to leave?
What were your most usual experiences?
What was your journey like to get to your new home?
What hardships did you face in your new home at first?
And what was your story once your new life began?
What were your best experiences?
.... and any other questions that seem relevant.
An entry will be judged on how well it brings the subject's story to life and on the impact it has on the reader. Previous prizewinners included ESL students, so incomplete English skills are not necessarily a disadvantage. You can use techniques of journalism or techniques of fiction to bring your work to life. Works can be essays or stories, or a mixture. Your essay or story can tell the whole story or concentrate on a part of the story. You could get your teacher's help with techniques for interviewing and the techniques for writing the best bring a retold story to life.
This is an Australia-wide competition. Many schools and individuals will take part. You are invited to submit your essay to us for judging, and for possible publication. The date for submissions is June 30 2004. The outstanding story over all categories will be awarded a grand prize of $2500. The nationwide winners in each other category will receive $1000. There will be a second prize in each category of $500 and runner up prizes of $100, with 20 prizes in each category of $50 for the shortlisted entries.
You can find inspiration for your story on the Australians Against Racism website, where winning stories from the 2003 competition are published. You could also look at the book Dark Dreams - available from Project SafeCom here or from Wakefield Press in Adelaide, in which 37 stories from 2002 are published.
Finding a subject should be quite easy but will involve some investigation. You could ask your friends whether their parents were displaced persons (refugee or Indigenous). Ask your parents whether they know someone. You could ask your neighbours and the older people on your street. You could ask community papers and organisations on the internet. You could contact Aboriginal Community Colleges, Indigenous Studies Centres in Universities or TAFE, or Aboriginal Education in your state.
Maybe YOU are a displaced person and can write your own or your parents' story.
Prizes will be given in three categories: under 12 years, 12-15 years, and 16-20 years (this group includes school leavers and school, TAFE or university students). Use your age as at June 30 2004 to determine your category.
Your essay should be no more than 2000 words long (or 1000 words if you are under 12), typed or hand written neatly on A4 paper, double-spaced, using a clear font. Keep a copy of your essay, as it will not be returned.
Sixty shortlisted writer prizes of $50 - $2,350 paid for by sales of the Australia IS Refugees Booklet and badges - Thank you all who purchased copies!
If you or your organization would like to help sponsor the prizes (and be promoted as a sponsor), please contact us or donate to:
Australians Against Racism
PO Box 107
Enfield Plaza SA 5085
or deposit electronically to:
National Bank, BSB: 083184
Account number: 53 593-5689
Account name: Australians Against Racism
Please make cheques payable to Australians Against Racism and indicate clearly that your donation is for 'There is no Place Like Home'
Send your entry to:
'There is No Place Like Home'
PO Box 107
South Australia 5085
by June 30 2004. You must submit your work with a signed entry form (from the flyer, downloadable from this web page as a PDF file - see above).
Judges will include famous Australian authors Geraldine Brooks and Nicholas Rose. Judging will be finalised in August.
You or your teachers can contact the project co-ordinator:
Email: schools (at) australiansagainstracism.org
if you need more information.