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.
Ada Cambridge Biographical Prose Prize
1,000–3,000 words. Open to all writers aged 18+ residing in Victoria. Entry is $15. The winner will receive $50
Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition
1,500 words max. NZ$500 prize. New Zealand nationals and residents aged 16–21 only.
16th April (approximate)
The Fogarty Literary Award
Opens 1st March. For “an unpublished manuscript by a Western Australian author aged between 18 and 35”, which includes narrative non-fiction. The winner receives a cash prize of $20,000 and a publishing contract with Fremantle Press.
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.
Wakefield Press Essay Prize (April 2023)
IPSANZ’s The John McLaren Emmerson QC Essay Prize (May 2023)
The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award 2023 (May 2023)
The Australian Orchid Foundation Essay Prize (June 2023)
Landfall Essay Competition (July 2023)
AAWP / Westerly Magazine Life Writing Prize (July 2023)
AAWP / Express Media Sudden Writing Prize (July 2023)
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)