Kuracca Prize for Australian Literature

Please note: The Kuracca Prize for Australian Literature has been extended, and will now close at 11.59pm Monday 18 January 2021.


“Like the kuracca, that is a sentinel bird – always watching over the rest of the mob, Aunty Kerry nurtured, encouraged and inspired a generation of writers. Her energy and commitment were unfailing right until the end.”
— Dr Jeanine Leane, ‘Vale Kuracca: a tribute to Kerry Reed-Gilbert’, Overland 20 Aug 2019.


Last year Australian literature lost one of its most treasured leaders and caretakers. Aunty Kerry  Reed-Gilbert’s achievements were many; authoring and editing many groundbreaking publications throughout her life. Her mentoring and activism for First Nations storytelling was an incomparable act of generosity and care for future generations.

In 2020, Overland literary journal received funding from Create Victoria to help sustain our organisation, and encourage excellence in a struggling arts community. We have decided to use a portion of these funds for a prize rewarding excellence and generosity in Australian writing, irrespective of form and genre. In the current landscape it is the only prize of its kind.

As a brilliant storyteller in multiple genres, we feel that this hybridity honours Aunty Reed-Gilbert’s legacy, and that the decision to create new platforms and opportunities during a difficult time for writing and culture, resonates with her tireless commitment towards nurture and mentoring.

To further commemorate the importance she placed on cultural continuity, and help to redress the unequal landscape of Australian publishing, entry will be free for First Nations writers, and if we are able to sustain the prize in the future – as we very much intend to – we are committed to the representation of Indigenous peoples on the judging committee. We’re honoured that Aunty Reed-Gilbert’s close friend, the Wiradjuri scholar and writer Dr Jeanine Leane has agreed to fill that role in the prize’s first year.

Story-telling is the life-blood of memory, culture, and tradition; and we believe that this prize is a deeply appropriate and respectful way to honour a life devoted to nurturing, and continuing that story.

We would like to thank Creative Victoria for their support for this prize, and for the guidance and wisdom of Aunty Kerry’s friends and family.

Judges: Jeanine Leane, Justin Clemens, Elena Gomez. 

About the prize

This new competition encourages excellent and original works of Australian literature. For the purposes of this prize, literature refers to and includes fiction, poetry, essay, memoir, creative non-fiction, cartoon or graphic stories, and digital or audio storytelling. Length restrictions are as follows:

  • fiction (up to 3000 words)
  • essay, memoir or creative non-fiction (up to 3000 words)
  • poetry (up to 88 lines)
  • cartoon or graphic story (up to 180 mm wide by 255 mm high)
  • digital or audio storytelling (up to 5 minutes)

Acceptable file formats: pdf, doc, docx, txt, rtf, jpg, jpeg, gif, mp3, mp4, m4a, tif, tiff, png, wpf, odt, wav, mov, wpd, avi, mpg, 3gp, flv, webm, wmv, ogg, aac, flac, aiff, wma, mkv, m4v, svg, csv.

Submissions do not need to be themed. A winner will be awarded the first prize of $5,000, as well as two runner-up prizes of $1,000 each. Where possible all three winners will be published where possible in the autumn issue of Overland. There are no separate prizes for individual categories.


Competition closes 11.59 pm, Monday 18 January 2021. Please read the entry guidelines below to confirm eligibility.


Entry fee: $12 for subscribers and $20 for non-subscribers. Free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrants. 

**Another option is to take out one of our special prize subscriptions: for $56, you get discounted entry to the competition and a one-year discounted subscription to Overland (includes four print issues and the daily online magazine, invitations to subscriber events, and other opportunities and giveaways).

The judges

Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri writer, poet and academic from south-west New South Wales. In 2017, Jeanine was the winner of the University of Canberra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Poetry Prize, and she has twice been the winner of the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Poetry Prize (2017, 2019). Jeanine’s second volume of poetry, Walk Back Over, was released in 2018 by Cordite Books.  https://redroomcompany.org/poet/jeanine-leane/

Justin Clemens teaches at the University of Melbourne. His most recent book is Limericks, Philosophical and Literary (Surpllus 2019).


First place: $5000. Two runner-up prizes of $1000 each. The winning story will be published in Overland 242, autumn 2021.

  1. This is a prize for original pieces of Australian literature written in English. For the purposes of this prize, ‘Australian’ is constituted as a submission authored by a person of Australian residence, nationality, birth, or cultural relation. It includes entrants who are seeking asylum to Australia.
  2. Acceptable forms include fiction (up to 3000 words in length), poetry (up to 88 lines in length), essay or memoir (up to 3000 words in length), creative non-fiction (up to 3000 words in length), cartoon, graphic story (up to 180 mm wide by 255 mm high), digital or audio storytelling (up to 5 minutes). If you wish to enter digital or audio recordings please contact overland@overland.org.au to arrange submission.
  3. One winner and two runner-up pieces will be selected. There are no individual prizes for different literary categories.
  4. Submissions must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers, including Overland.
  5. Stories that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible.
  6. Submissions will be processed electronically. Text should be formatted at 1.5 line spacing and a minimum of 12 point font size (unless formally experimental).
  7. The competition will be judged anonymously. The author’s name must not appear on the manuscript or else the piece will be disqualified.
  8. Multiple entries are acceptable, although each must be entered into the submission system separately and accompanied by the relevant fee.
  9. In recognition of Aunty Kerry Reed-Gilbert’s work and values, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrants can submit without fee. Otherwise, each entry must be accompanied by a fee of $20 or $12 for Overland subscribers.
  10. The winning entries will be published in Overland. Other entries may be considered for publication.
  11. The closing date is 11.59 pm, Monday 18 January 2021. Late entries will not be accepted.
  12. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.
  13. Overland staff and board members, and their families, are prohibited from entering. All previous, current and ongoing contributors and volunteer readers are eligible to enter.
  14. Winners will be announced late February 2021. Subscribe to the Overland email bulletin to receive announcements as to the results.

A final note on our guidelines: 

The Overland editorial team are embarking on a process to improve the structure of blind-judging. You can read more about our process here

Entrants to this prize will be asked to answer the following question: 

If your entry takes up the voice or experience of a marginalised or vulnerable identity, do you identify yourself as being a part of that community or experience? For instance, if your piece is written in the voice of an Aboriginal person, are you Aboriginal? etc. 

Your response to this question is not mandatory, and your response will only be visible to internal editors, unless our judges request to know your response after the consideration of a piece. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, and writing outside of your experience will not disqualify your submission. This question merely functions to provide an additional measure of support for judges if any questions might arise about a piece. 

Enter the Kuracca Prize for Australian Literature as a:

new subscriber – $56

(Includes $12 entry fee and $44 subscription)
Writers can subscribe to Overland for one year (four issues) at a discounted rate, and enter the competition at the special subscriber rate. Take out a new subscription and enter the Kuracca Prize for Australian Literature.


current subscriber – $12

Current Overland subscribers enter the competition at the special subscriber rate of $12. Current subscribers enter the competition here.


non-subscriber – $20

Entry to the competition for non-subscribers is $20. Non-subscribers enter the competition here.


Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writer – Free

Entry to the competition for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writers free. Enter the competition here.