Screenwriter Peter Mattessi elected President of the Australian Writers' Guild

12 December, 2023

We are delighted to announce that screenwriter and executive producer Peter Mattessi has been elected AWG President by the Australian Writers’ Guild’s National Executive Council and has assumed his new office.

Screenwriter Shanti Gudgeon will serve as Vice President.

Mattessi has been a member of the Guild for over 20 years and recently co-created and executive produced Return to Paradise, the Australian spin-off of the global hit Death in Paradise, coming to ABC and BBC One in 2024. His work is well-known and loved by Australian audiences, and includes The Heights, Ms Fishers’ Modern Murder Mysteries (as co-executive producer) and Neighbours.

‘I am thrilled and hugely proud to be the next President of the Australian Writers’ Guild,’ said Mattessi. 'I joined the Guild when I got my first television job as a Trainee Storyliner on Neighbours over twenty years ago, and I felt immediately that in our membership I had found my people. I love writers of all types and I am enormously excited and determined to serve them as we work towards entrenching writers where they belong: at the very heart of our storytelling.’

In the UK, Mattessi served on the EastEnders core writing team for over ten years, and he has represented Victoria on the National Executive Council of the Guild. He also sat on the Australian Writers’ Guild Authorship Collecting Society (AWGACS) Board until 2023 and has been part of the leadership team ensuring the payment of royalties to Australian and New Zealand screenwriters. He holds a law degree from The University of Melbourne.

Gudgeon is an experienced screenwriter for television, with credits including Secret Bridesmaids’ BusinessLes NortonWolf Creek and Mustangs F.C. She currently has several projects in development. 

Mattessi acknowledged the enormous contribution of outgoing AWG President Shane Brennan, saying, ‘I’d like to thank Shane on behalf of all Guild members for his outstanding service as President over the past four years. Shane saw our Guild through incredibly difficult times at the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been a tireless advocate for Australian writers at home and abroad. We have been very lucky to have one of the world’s most prominent and successful television writers as our President.’

Brennan was elected AWG President in 2019, steering the Guild through the COVID-19 industry shutdowns and advancing key industrial matters for writers, including SVOD regulation, copyright reform, superannuation and elevating the status of Australian showrunners and creators. During his tenure as President, he oversaw the modernisation of the AWG constitution and the development of major programs, including The Creators. Through the philanthropic organisation Scripted Ink., both Shane and Cathryn Brennan continue to be passionate and generous supporters of Australian screen and stage writers, with the David Williamson Prize and Shane and Cathryn Brennan Prize championing and rewarding our playwrights.

At the AGM in November, Brennan reflected on his time as President, stating, ‘It has been an honour and a privilege to serve this membership and help steer the Guild through interesting times over the past four years. Rest assured, your Guild is in great hands and is ready to face the inevitable new challenges as they arise.’

The National Executive Council also welcomed two new members, with award-winning writers Kodie Bedford and Niki Aken appointed. 

Bedford, who won the Major AWGIE Award in 2021 for her play Cursed!, is one of the most in-demand writers in Australia today. Her recent credits include Mystery RoadOriginTroppoSummer Love and All My Friends Are Racist, which she executive produced. One of the six original writers selected for the AWG and Screen Australia program The Creators, Bedford recently attended Content London where she spoke on Drama Quarterly’s Writers to Watch panel.

Aken is an award-winning screenwriter for comedy and drama who has written on both seasons of the critically acclaimed series The Newsreader. In 2020, she won an AWGIE Award for The Hunting, and recently was co-executive producer on the anthology series Erotic Stories, which premiered at SXSW Sydney.

Aken’s credits include Upright, Significant OthersJanet King and Underbelly.

Both Aken and Bedford are founding members of the AWG’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and have served on various AWG committees for many years. Both have served on the AWGACS Board, with Bedford a current member.

In addition to farewelling Shane, we acknowledge outgoing National Executive Council members John Collee, Marcia Gardner and Greg Haddrick, who stepped down from their positions at the AWG AGM in November.

On behalf of all members, the Guild thanks Shane, John, Marcia and Greg for their outstanding contributions to the Australian Writers' Guild. 

The Australian Writers’ Guild National Executive Council is a democratically elected board representing AWG members. The current NEC is Peter Mattessi (President), Shanti Gudgeon (Vice President), Niki Aken, Shayne Armstrong, Kodie Bedford, Sally Hardy, Aaron McCann, Sam Meikle and Katherine Thomson.