Story Hunter Program

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Welcome to Story Hunter

We explore big ideas with young writers. 

Newcastle Writers Festival is committed to inspiring the next generation of storytellers.

The Program

Story Hunter is a creative writing program for primary school students in our region.

Our programs are delivered in classrooms by dedicated and talented local writers.

We support and work in partnership with teachers and schools across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter region. 

We offer multi-week workshops and one-off masterclasses. 

Starting your Marvellous Birds Story worksheet.
Credit: Liam Driver.

Our Program

We run programs with stage 2 & 3 students.

Our programs are curriculum-aligned incorporating themes, play-based learning, ideation and development with creative writing outcomes.

We include opportunities for collaboration, peer review and editing along the way.

For bookings or further information please submit an Expression of Interest below.
Expression of Interest >

Students from Bellbird PS discussing how their bird characters met.
Credit: Liam Driver.

Our Workshops

Our workshops are facilitated by talented local writers trained in partnership with Story Factory, which has been working with young storytellers for over a decade.

5 Week Creative Writing Program
1.5 hours per week across 5 weeks

Five weeks allows optimal time to support every student to produce their own short story.

We also offer one-off masterclasses.

Masterclass
1.5-2 hours
Illustrator or Writer
Expression of Interest >

Student from Bellbird PS writing the second chapter of their Marvellous Birds story.
Credit: Liam Driver.

Pricing

Prices range from $10-$40 per student, with subsidies varying. Please submit an Expression of Interest and we will get back to you with a pricing guide.

We are always happy to reduce financial barriers or accommodate to the needs of the students. Please reach out to Story Hunter Coordinator, Bethany Falzon HERE Expression of Interest >

Story Hunter Guides

Emma Biddle

Emma Biddle is a creative writing PhD candidate, and published YA and children’s author. She has previously worked as an English teacher and for a local publishing company in administration and cover design. Needless to say, she loves books. Emma believes that writing is a reflection of the creative nature that makes us human, and a way to explore our empathy and curiosity. She loves working with young people to develop their ideas and is excited to be a part of the Story Hunter team.

Jess Black

Jess Black is an award-winning author of forty-seven children's books. Jess regularly teaches creative writing in schools and runs holiday workshops. Jess has written the Tales of Mr Walker series about a dog who comes to live in the fanciest hotel in town. Jess has also written the Kitty is Not a Cat series, Little Paws series and the Keeper of the Crystals series; and is co-author of the hugely successful Bindi Wildlife Adventure series, the Kaboom Kid series and the Animal Tales series. Jess lives in Newcastle with her two daughters, husband and slightly batty cat and dog.

Karen Eastwood

Karen Eastwood is a storyteller, writer, podcast host and educator. She has worked on Newcastle Library's early literacy programs including, Stories Come Alive, (formerly known as The Wacky Wombat Show) as well as the annual Book Week Show. Karen has facilitated storytelling and creative writing programs for all ages. Her mission is to help people have fun building connections through the sharing of stories. She especially enjoys helping children discover how to use the magic and power of words to convey their own unique perspectives and stories.

Catherine Owen

Cath Owen is a primary school teacher and writer who is lucky enough to live in beautiful Port Stephens on Worimi land. She has always loved stories in all forms, whether reading them, writing them or seeing them performed. She is a strong supporter of public education and is thrilled to be able to share her passion for stories and to help students in the Hunter region to develop their own voices. In her spare time, she loves to read, write, sing and to enjoy the natural beauty of Port Stephens with her kids.

Jerry Ray

Jerry Ray is a multi-disciplinary storyteller and artist working between illustration, creative writing, music and performance. From producing original theatre and a range of comedy events to helping young people find their voices in writing, drama and visual arts; the ultimate goal for all his work is to foster real community and make everyone feel included in a meaningful way.

Malini Stephen

Malini Stephen is a teacher and writer, passionate about all things reading and writing. Malini has previously lived in Darwin and now resides in Newcastle. Malini believes creativity is important for developing young minds to expand their imagination, and she works to support others with the skills to explore their ideas, create new worlds and make sense of this one.

Jacqueline Wright

Jacqui Wright is a teacher and writer who is a passionate believer in the power of stories to connect, inform, heal and empower individuals, groups, communities and nations. Jacqui's first novel, Red Dirt Talking, was longlisted for the 2013 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Since then, her stories, plays and articles have been published by Radio National, ABC News, Griffith Review, Fairfax, Westerly, Margaret River, Fremantle and Currency Presses. Jacqui's work at ABC Kimberley has shown that there is more than one way to tell a story. Putting words together in all kinds of ways – writing, drawing, speaking and recording via digital technologies – will never lose its magic!

FAQ

 

  • Which schools do you work with?

    We currently offer our programs to all primary-school aged schools who are located in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter region. 

    However, it’s the priority of Story Hunter to provide creative opportunities to children living in the Hunter who experience some form of disadvantage. In the Australian education sector, the Index of Community Socio-educational Advantage (ICSEA) is a widely used benchmark of school advantage/disadvantage. A school’s ‘ICSEA rating’ takes into account the family backgrounds of students (including parental education levels and occupations) and the characteristics of schools (including geographical location and proportion of Indigenous students). The average ICSEA rating is 1000; higher ratings indicate more ‘educational advantage’ among students at a school, lower ratings indicate more ‘educational disadvantage’. Click here to find out more about school ICSEA ratings.

    Story Hunter will prioritise resources each term to schools with the most need, and to prioritise working with schools with an ICSEA rating below 1000. We also consider other logistical factors such as geographical isolation, ease of access to schools and levels of teacher/principal support for our programs.



  • How do I book?

    You will need to submit an Expression of Interest form to indicate that you would like your students to participate in a Story Hunter program. A team member will get back to you within 5 days with further information and confirmation details.

  • Who can put in an Expression of Interest?

    We currently offer our paid programs to all primary-school aged schools who are located in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter region. We run these programs in classrooms and do this in partnership with schools or educational institutions in the region. 

    Any teacher, librarian, support worker or Principal who works within a school or educational institution with primary school aged students from the ages of 8-12 can submit an expression of interest form to have our writers visit them. We will always follow up to ensure the program suits your needs.

    As a parent, carer or P&C committee member you may put in an EOI on behalf of your school, but you will need to have spoken with a teacher or Principal and will need to include a contact within the school that we can follow up directly with.



  • What age groups do you work with?

    Currently we only offer our programs to Stage 2 & 3 students, this is generally children aged 8-12.

    We know that the ages of 8 – 12 are crucial in a child’s social, emotional and learning development, and will have the greatest impact.

    Access to the creative arts, particularly writing, in children under 12 significantly increases their communication skills, social connectedness, creativity and empathy, among an array of other learning, social and emotional benefits.

  • Do you run any programs outside of the schools' programs?

    No, we do not run any creative writing programs outside of our schools’ programs. There are such a range of incredible writers and organisations doing this work and we want to continue to support the work they do.

  • How are you funded?

    We are currently funded through workshop fees and a range of philanthropic, corporate and government support. 

    We are always looking to develop partnerships that share our vision of a Hunter region where every child can confidently express themselves and share their own stories, ultimately subsidising student costs and reducing financial barriers to participation.

Our Sponsors and Partners

Story Hunter is made possible by the support of volunteers, donors, partners & sponsors surrounding us.

 

  • Core Funder

  • Major Sponsor

  • Major Sponsor

  • Sponsor

  • Project Partner

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