The 2022 KYD School Writing Prize invited entries from secondary school students that explore the idea of ‘hope’ in Australia and the world at large. Students from across the country entered ambitious stories and essays on a range of topics including climate change, disability justice, queer identity and visions of a brighter and more equitable future.

We’re thrilled to announce Audrey McKenzie (Year 11, Footscray High School, VIC) as the winner of this year’s prize. Audrey receives a $500 cash prize, publication in KYD, a mentorship session with author Rawah Arja and an invitation to perform her work at the Wheeler Centre Teen Gala.

Audrey’s non-fiction piece Per Aspera Ad Astra’ is an engaging and enlightening essay, with a unique approach to the prize theme, discussing outer space exploration as an expression of humanity’s hope for connection and meaning in the universe.

Read the winning entry here.

The judges of this year’s School Writing Prize were author Rawah Arja and KYD editor Alan Vaarwerk. Read their full report here.

We’d also like to make special mention of two highly commended entries in the prize. These writers, in alphabetical order, are:

  • ‘Fish Tank’ by Ella Curran (Year 11, Santa Sabina College Strathfield, NSW)
    • A very well written and evocative personal essay memoir exploring what it means to grow up alongside a sister who struggles with an eating disorder. Ella’s use of imagery is beautifully woven into her memoir, and her prose is emotional but grounded—hope is a little elusive, but it shines through in the strength of her love.
  • ‘Sparrows’ by Zaara Khayer (Year 7, University High School, VIC)
    • A short story about a newly arrived refugee boy overcoming obstacles and finding his own identity. A clever and tender story of coming out and coming of age, with lovely imagery and descriptive prose which is beautifully understated and mature for such a young writer.

KYD and the judges congratulate all the students who submitted their work, and thank the teachers who supported their students in entering. Teachers can download a certificate of entry for their students here.