Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize ($6500)

2020 prize is closed and will re-open in 2021

Judges: Mirandi Riwoe, Jeanine Leane and Wayne Marshall

About the prize

Supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, and named after the late Neilma Gantner, this prize seeks excellent short fiction of up to 3000 words themed around the notion of ‘travel’; imaginative, creative and literary interpretations are strongly encouraged. This competition is open to all writers, nationally and internationally, at any stage of their writing career.

The winning story will receive a $5000 first prize and be published in Overland’s first print issue for 2021. Two runners-up will each receive $750 and be published at Overland online to coincide with the release of the first print issue for 2021.


Competition closes 11.59 pm, Friday 20 November 2020. Please read the entry guidelines below to confirm eligibility.

Entry fee: $12 for subscribers and $20 for non-subscribers.

**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).

You may also be interested to read last year’s judges’ report and the winning stories.

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.

Wayne Marshall‘s stories have appeared in Going Down Swinging, Kill Your Darlings, Island, Review of Australian Fiction, and other places. His story collection, Shirl (then Frontier Places) was shortlisted for the 2019 Victoria Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, and was published by Affirm Press in 2020. He is the cofounder of the Peter Carey Short Story Award and lives in regional Victoria with his partner and two daughters. @wayneamarshall1

Mirandi Riwoe is the author of Stone Sky Gold Mountain, shortlisted for three Queensland Literary Awards, 2020. Her novella The Fish Girl won Seizure’s Viva la Novella prize and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Meanjin, Big Issue, Griffith Review and New Australian Fiction@m_riwoe


  1. This is a prize for original pieces of short fiction written in English, up to 3000 words in length.
  2. Stories must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers, including Overland.
  3. Stories that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible.
  4. The prize is open to all writers (located in Australia or elsewhere).
  5. Submissions will be processed electronically. Stories should be formatted at 1.5 line spacing and a minimum of 12 point font size (unless formally experimental).
  6. The competition will be judged anonymously. The author’s name must not appear on the manuscript or else the story will be disqualified.
  7. Multiple entries are acceptable, although each must be entered into the submission system separately and accompanied by the relevant fee.
  8. The winning entries will be published in Overland. Other entries may be considered for publication.
  9. The closing date is 11.59 pm, Monday 16 November 2020. Late entries will not be accepted.
  10. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.

A final note on this year’s guidelines: 

The Overland editorial team have decided to include an additional question for entrants upon submission of their work. While we uphold the integrity of the blind judging process, it often places limitations on judges to properly assess the nature of a submission. Entries which speak directly to the experiences of marginalised or vulnerable communities are often difficult to assess with no knowledge as to whether the author has the relevant experience or cultural authority. It can be an agonising process for a judge to decide whether a piece is appropriate for publication when experience or identities are assumed or guessed. We want to encourage imaginative and provocative submissions without creating an additional burden for our judges, or potentially restricting the selection of sensitive pieces. 

As such, this year entrants 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.

Enter the Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize 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 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize.


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.



new MRF logo-2015The Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize is supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation