Below is a list of non-fiction, essay, memoir and life writing contests based in Australia and New Zealand — although some may be open to writers elsewhere.
We aim to avoid listing competitions which make unreasonable demands on entrants, such as copyright claims on all entries. Please check terms and conditions before entering, in case some slip through.
For a list of UK, Ireland, and European competitions, click here, and for US / Canada, click here. Some competitions in both listings will be open to writers worldwide.
Furphy Story Prize
Non-fiction (or fiction) prose. 5,000 words max. 1st Prize – $15,000, 2nd Prize – $3,000, 3rd Prize – $2,000. Theme: Australian Life in all its diversity.
Questions Writing Prize
Open to Aus writers 18–30. 1,500–2,000 words. AU$3,000 prize money.
The John Mclaren Emmerson QC Essay Prize
For an essay on intellectual property. AU$ 5,000 / 3,000 / 2,000 prizes. 5,000–10,000 words.
The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award 2023
For an unpublished manuscript by a writer under the age of thirty-five. The winning manuscript will receive prize money of AU$20,000 and will be published in 2024 by Allen & Unwin with an advance against royalties.
AAWP / Westerly Magazine Life Writing Prize
For autobiography, biography, memoir and essay. A$20 entry fee. A$500 cash prize.
Landfall Essay Competition
Up to 4,000 words. Open to nationals / residents of NZ. NZ$3,000 top prize. For a “vivid, contentious and creative essay” on NZ culture.
The Australian Orchid Foundation Essay Prize
Essay topic: “How do you deflask your orchids and look after your seedlings?” A$350 / 250 / 150 prizes.
Mindshare Awards (August 2023)
Growlife Medical Essay Competition (August 2023)
Catalyse Nonfiction Prize (August 2023)
Bass Coast Prize for Non-Fiction (September 2023)
The New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Non-fiction (September 2023)
John Barsby New Zealand Essay Competition (November 2023)
Douglas Kelly Australian Essay Competition (November 2023)
Hawkeye Publishing Manuscript Developmental Prize (December 2023)
Calibre Essay Prize (January 2024)
The Writers College Free Writing Competition (January 2024)
Ada Cambridge Biographical Prose Prize (March 2024)
Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition (March 2024)
Wakefield Press Essay Prize (April 2024)
The Fogarty Literary Award (April 2024)