Lisa Wilkinson announced as Patron of Whitlam Institute competition

The Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University is delighted to announce that respected journalist, presenter, editor and commentator, Ms Lisa Wilkinson AM is joining the What Matters? Competition as Patron.

"We are so pleased to have Lisa on board as Patron of our flagship What Matters? Competition," says Eric Sidoti, Whitlam Institute Director.

"Lisa needs no introduction. She has been a media trailblazer over more than 30 years, and is highly respected for her charity work and mentoring. We're delighted to have Lisa involved in the What Matters? Competition and hope that together we are able give even more young Australians the opportunity to have their voices heard."

The Whitlam Institute has been running the What Matters? Competition since 2004. In 2016 the competition attracted a record-breaking 3870 entries across NSW, the ACT and Tasmania. Lisa's appointment follows the retirement of Dr Hugh Mackay AO in 2016.

"I've never really bought the idea that young people aren't interested in the big issues. And empowering young people to have a voice about those issues is close to my heart", says Lisa Wilkinson.

"This year marks my first year of involvement in the Whitlam Institute's What Matters? Writing Competition. This simple competition gets kids thinking about their values and the world around them, and the results are extraordinary."

"I hope that this year sees even more young people stop, reflect, and put their thoughts into words."

The 2017 competition, which closes on 5 May, calls on students in years 5 to 12 to submit a 400 - 600 word opinion piece.

2016 Finalists- What Matters campaign


  • The overall competition winner will receive an iPad. In 2017, for the first time, the overall winner will also be invited to spend a day at the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) at Old Parliament House in Canberra – meeting a curator, getting behind the scenes and contributing their voice to MoAD's programs. The overall winner will be selected from finalists in NSW, the ACT and What Matters? Tasmania.
  • Each category winner will be awarded $350, and $200 for each category runner-up.
  • The Years 5/6 and 7/8 category winners will each receive a full-day creative writing workshop donated by The Writing Workshop, conducted by award-winning author Bernard Cohen (opens in a new window).
  • The Year 9/10 category winner will also be invited to spend a day at, meeting the team and receiving professional training.  They will also be offered the opportunity to be paid $200 to produce a feature article for the website.
  • The Year 11/12 category winner will receive a 1 Year Membership to the NSW Writers' Centre (opens in a new window), and the opportunity to participate in a one-day writing workshop donated by the NSW Writers' Centre
  • As a new prize in 2017, WestWords (Western Sydney's Literature Development Organisation for Young People) will offer one lucky school the chance to host an author at their school. The school prize will be randomly drawn from the shortlisted entries from NSW/ACT, which will be announced in June. The winning school will be invited to liaise with WestWords to determine which author would suit their students best.
  • Winners and runners-up will receive their prize at an awards ceremony, following their participation in a Young Writers Forum at Western Sydney University's Parramatta campus.
  • All winning entries will be published in print and online.


29 March 

Media Unit