a First Nations literature career development grant

Marie Munkara, Signture Works Lab 2019, at 20:50 by Richard Wilson at MONA, Tasmania. Photo by Jorjia Gillis.


The Australia Council for the Arts is pleased to announce the 2022 participants for the Elevate program. Click on the expandable headings below to learn more about the participants.

Carl Kija/Jaru is an author from Halls Creek in the heart of the Kimberley WA. He is passionate about Aboriginal rights, stories, bush life, sport, culture and language.

His debut book, Black Cockatoo, was published with Magabala Books in 2018 and was Honour Book CBCA Young Reader category as well as shortlisted in Readings Children’s Book of the Year, Queensland Literary Award, ABiA Small Publisher Children Book, Australian Speech Therapists Book Award. His second book Tracks of the Missing, was shortlisted for the Premiers Literary Award – Daisy Utemorrah Award 2019 and will be published with Magabala in 2022. Dirran (the Black Cockatoo sequel) won the 2021 Daisy Utemorrah Award and will be published in 2023. He also has Beautiful Night (Lothian/Hachette 2022), Loved You Then (Lothian/Hachette 2023), My Deadly Boots (Lothian/Hachette) coming out soon as well.

Celia Coulthard is a proud Adnyamathanha woman, an artist and producer at Adelaide Festival Centre. Celia is the creator and creative producer of OUR WORDS and OUR STORIES – events celebrating First Nations literary voices and the ancient art of storytelling. She is also an assistant producer of DreamBIG Children’s Festival and works across families and year-round programming at Adelaide Festival Centre. Celia’s personal artistic practise focuses on the creation and illustration of Adnyamathanha language resources to reinvigorate the language in her community.

Image: Portrait, Brooke Scobie. Credit: Travis De Vries.

Brooke Scobie is queer Goorie single mum, poet, writer, podcaster, and community worker. Her writing is a love letter to people who’ve been systematically excluded. She’s been published in Overland Journal, Running Dog, Red Room Poetry, SBS, Best of Australian Poetry 2021, and was awarded second place in the 2020 Judith Wright Poetry Prize.

Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai Woman and award-winning writer, artist and consultant. An experienced speaker and facilitator advocating for the environment, gender and racial equality and LGBTIQA+ rights, Kirli was the NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year (2020).

Kirli’s books The Incredible Freedom Machines (2018, Scholastic), Kindred (2019, Magabala) and Bindi (2020, Magabala) have been celebrated by the Prime Minister’s, QLD, WA, Adelaide, Victorian Premier’s Literary, ABIAs, Kate Challis RAKA, Speech Pathology, ABDA and CBCA awards. Her work is published in anthologies and public art.

Her 2022 forthcoming titles include visual poetry collection, Returning (Magabala) and picture book, Our Dreaming (Scholastic).

Kirli’s solo exhibition, Returning showed at SHAC Gallery in Nov-Dec 2021 and was supported by Australia Council for the Arts. Kirli’s art has been exhibited in Shoalhaven and Wollongong Galleries and commissioned for public art with Google, UOW, NSW Department of Education.

Kirli’s first Solo play, Going Home has been commissioned by Playwriting Australia and will take the stage in 2022. Kirli is a board member for Merrigong Theatre.

In 2022 you can find Kirli at Sydney Writers Festival, Brisbane Writers Festival, Blak & Bright, Littlescribe & Enough Said.

Lenora is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman (Erub and Mabuiag), born and living on Yidinji and Yirrganydji country in far north Queensland. She has been a constant writer for various training and community organisations. Her great love has been documenting her family’s history over many years, working with Elders to help bring their stories to life in DVD and television documentaries and working on her own fiction and non-fiction writing. She is an emerging novelist and was awarded the 2021 Boundless Indigenous Writers Mentorship for her draft manuscript about a fictional family of Torres Strait Islanders living on the mainland during the 1930s.

Lenora is an alumna of The Writers’ Studio and a member of Cairns Tropical Writers Inc, Qld Writers Centre, Writing NSW and First Nations Australia Writers Network.

Image: Melanie Saward. Credit: Paul Pugh.

Melanie Saward is a proud descendant of the Bigambul and Wakka Wakka peoples. She is a writer, editor, and university lecturer based in Tulmur (Ipswich). Her writing has been published in Flock, Overland, Kill Your Darlings,  and New Australian Fiction 2019 and she is the managing editor of Djed Press. She is a 2021 Penguin Write-It Fellow, and she’s been shortlisted for the David Unaipon Award (2018, 2020), the Boundless Indigenous Writer’s Mentorship (2021, 2020), and the Harlequin First Nations Fellowship (2020).


ELEVATE is a $5,000 career development grant opportunity open to First Nations writers, editors, illustrators, and arts workers in the literature sector. ELEVATE is designed to support and develop career pathways which may include building capacity, networks, and audiences for their work. This opportunity is open to all career levels and genres of writers. Six grants will be awarded.

Award can be used for career development which may include: 

  • study/course expenses 
  • development of work  
  • masterclass/residencies  
  • conference or festival attendance 
  • travel and accommodation 
  • materials. 
  1. Career development activity to be undertaken within 12 months 
  2. Open to Australian First Nations’ artists living here or overseas 
  3. Open to all levels of experience  
  4. Disciplines include writers, editors and illustrators and arts workers in the Literature sector across all genres.

The Panel will assess the potential of the artist/artworker at the centre of the proposal. 

They may consider: 

  • potential of the artist and/or artworker 
  • viability 
  • impact on Career.

Potential of the artist/arts worker 

The Panel will assess the potential of the artist/artworker at the centre of the proposal. 

They may consider: 

  • merit of proposal 
  • quality of work previously produced 
  • public or peer response to work previously produced 
  • demonstrated ability, skills and creative thinking. 


The Panel will assess the viability of the proposal. 

They may consider: 

  • skills and artistic ability of the people involved, and their relevance to the proposed activity 
  • effective use of resources, with realistic and achievable planning 
  • level of confirmation of proposed activities and partners 
  • adherence to relevant cultural protocols 
  • evidence of considered consultation and engagement with participants, audiences and communities. 

Impact on career 

The Panel will assess the impact that the proposed activity will have on your career. 

They may consider: 

  • capacity to strengthen skills and abilities of artists/arts professionals 
  • potential to discover and develop new markets, or meet existing market demand 
  • relevance and timeliness of activity. 


  • CV 
  • budget.


  • letters of support 
  • brief biographical information on principal personnel (if applicable).

Additional information

Once you submit your application, we will send you an email acknowledging receipt of your application.

After you submit your application, we first check it meets the eligibility criteria for the grant or opportunity to which you are applying.

Applications to the Australia Council Grant Programs are assessed by arts practice peer panels against the published assessment criteria for the relevant grant program.

We aim to notify you of the outcome of your application no later than 12 weeks after the published closing date for the applicable grant round.

Once all applications have been assessed, you will be contacted about the outcome of your application. If you have been successful, you will also be sent a funding agreement. This outlines the conditions of funding, how you will be paid and your grant reporting requirements. The following accordion items outline these stages in more detail.

If your application is successful, you will receive an email advising you a grant is offered. You must then agree to the conditions of your grant, which represents the Australia Council’s contract with you – this can be done online, by email or by letter. Payment of a grant will not be made until the grant conditions have been agreed and accepted by all the relevant parties.

You should not start a project that depends on a grant until all relevant parties have agreed and accepted the grant conditions and we have evidence of such acceptance on file.

Standard grant conditions require you to, among other things:

  • seek prior approval for making a change to a funded project (for example, changes in the activity budget; changes to key creative personnel; or changes to start or end dates)
  • respond to requests for information about the project or grant
  • satisfactorily account for how the grant is spent (if you do not you will be required to return all monies for which you cannot satisfactorily account)
  • comply with all applicable laws
  • acknowledge the Australia Council’s support in all promotional material associated with the project; this includes use of the Australia Council’s logo and a standard text of acknowledgement.
  • provide artistic and financial acquittal reports at the end of the project
  • return any unspent grant funds at the completion of your project or on notice from us to return such unspent funds.

Grant agreements must be signed by a legal entity – either a legally constituted organisation or an individual. For unincorporated groups, see the section on administered grants

All individual or organisation grant applicants based in Australia must have an ABN. Individual applicants without an ABN may have their grant administered by an individual or organisation with an ABN. Organisations operating outside of Australia do not need an ABN to apply. Individuals based outside of Australia may not need an ABN to apply, depending on their circumstances (please check with your accountant or tax advisor).

The name of the applicant must match the name of the ABN and the name of the bank account into which we pay the funds. There are no exceptions to this rule. If applicants cannot provide an ABN and bank account that are in the same name as the applicant’s name, they will need to nominate an administrator for their grant.

Groups/ensembles/collectives, unincorporated associations/ unincorporated entities and other bodies with no legal status do not need an administrator if they have an active Australian Business Number (ABN) and bank account in their name. If they are unable to provide an active ABN and bank account that matches the name of the applicant, they must nominate an administrator. The name of the administrator must match the name of the ABN and bank account into which funds are paid if the application is successful.

If we approve your application you will need accept the conditions of the grant in a funding agreement.

After you accept your funding agreement online, we will automatically generate a payment for the grant on your behalf. You do not need to send us an invoice.

We will pay grant funds directly into your nominated bank account within two weeks after acceptance of the funding agreement. Grant payments cannot be postponed.

If you do not wish to have the grant funds paid directly into your bank account you can choose to have your grant administered by another individual or legally constituted organisation (Doesn’t apply to Arts Projects – Organisations).

When you apply, you will be asked to provide an active Australian Business Number or ‘ABN’. The ABN that you provide must correspond to the name of the applicant (or the administering body, if one has been nominated). When you accept your funding agreement, you will be asked to enter the details of the bank account you wish the grant to be paid into. The name associated with that bank account must correspond to the name in which the ABN has been registered.

Download the Australia Council for the Arts logo guidelines here.

Download the Major Festivals Initiative logo guidelines here.

Grant reports are required on completion of your project. Acquitting a grant means accurately reporting on the funded activities and the expenditure of Australia Council funding.

Please read your funding agreement to check details of the grant acquittal material you should provide.

The grant acquittal report is where you tell us:

  • how you spent your grant
  • what the artistic outcomes of your funded activity were.

If you do not provide a satisfactory grant report at the times and in the manner detailed in your funding agreement, the Australia Council will not make any further payments that may be due to you, and you will not be eligible  to apply for further grants.

If you do not provide a satisfactory grant report, the Australia Council may ask you to pay back all or part of the funding provided to you.

Grant reports are used by the Australia Council to fulfil obligations of accountability to the Australian Government. They are also essential to the development work of the Australia Council. The reports help us evaluate the achievements of funded activities, monitor the effectiveness of grant categories and ensure our policy development is consistent with the experience of artists in the field.

Reporting for Multi-year Funded Organisations

Organisations in receipt of multi-year funding are required to submit financial, statistical, and artistic reporting on an annual basis.

All reporting is submitted online via the Australia Council’s arts organisations reporting system.

If you are not sure what reporting you need to submit as part of your annual reporting, or what information to provide, please get in touch with your Australia Council contact.

All recipients must acknowledge that the Australia Council provided funding for their activities. When you acquit your grant, we will ask you how you acknowledged the Australia Council.

For printed or online material use our logo and this phrase:

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body OR The (company name) is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Logos for download and guidelines for the use of our logos.

Where projects do not have a public outcome, or do not produce any printed or online material, you will need to think about how best to acknowledge the Australia Council funding.