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The Australian Writers’ Guild is the peak industry body representing writers for stage, screen and radio and has protected and promoted their creative and professional interests for more than 50 years.

The Guild’s vision is to see performance writing and performance writers thrive as a dynamic and integral part of Australian storytelling, shaping, reflecting and enhancing the Australian cultural voice in all its diversity.

The AWG’s purpose is to promote the role and recognition of – and rewards for – performance writing in Australian society and culture; to pursue a thriving industry environment; to protect and advance creative rights and opportunities and to promote excellence and improve professional standards, conditions and remuneration.

What we do

The Australian Writers’ Guild is the professional association for Australian performance writers principally in film, television, theatre, radio and digital media.

We fight to improve professional standards, conditions and remuneration for Australian performance writers; to protect and advance the creative rights of our members and to promote the Australian cultural voice in all its diversity. The Guild boasts many domestic successes over our history and we continue to work to ensure Australian writers are given the support they need to succeed in the global marketplace. By supporting Australian writers we strengthen the industry as a whole and are proud of our role in assisting many major productions to be made in Australia.

How we operate

Established by writers for writers, the AWG is a democratic organisation run by its members, who each year elect a National Executive Council and State Branch Committees. Our members work together to represent their fellow writers across the industry in a number of committees such as the Feature Film, Children’s Television and Theatre committees to negotiate for fair pay and conditions.

Our members

The AWG has several membership levels for performance writers. Full members are performance writers who have produced work and are entitled to the full range of services provided by the AWG. Emerging writers without the required amount of produced work can apply for Associate membership of the Guild and can make use of a number of our services and networking opportunities and apply for the many initiatives we run throughout the year. We also have student, senior and overseas memberships.

The highest level of membership in the Australian Writers’ Guild is Life Membership. We currently have 28 Life Members who are well-respected pioneers of the industry, many of whom are founding members of the AWG.

Our supporters

The AWG receives assistance from the Literature Fund of the Australia Council, Arts NSW, Screen Australia, Film Victoria, South Australian Film Corporation, Screen Queensland, Screenwest, Media Super, Foxtel, Screen Tasmania and Screen NSW.

AWG Audited Accounts 2015

AWG President Report 2016

History

A History of the Australian Writers’ Guild

The Australian Writers’ Guild was founded in March 1962 when a group of 17 radio writers met at the Australia Hotel in Sydney and decided to form a guild to represent their professional interests.

It was a time of great uncertainty for drama writers. Work conditions were at their worst: low fees, no residuals, bad contracts and poor professional status. Much of this was a direct result of the decline of radio, the advent of television and the resulting mass importation of English and American programs. Little work was being offered to local writers, most of whom were unfamiliar with the new medium. The future looked grim.

Against this background, the Australian Radio, Television and Screenwriters’ Guild was established as a collective body of writers fighting for basic professional rights. An interim committee was formed with Don Houghton, Richard Lane, Ric Aspinall, Kay Keaveney and Lyle Martin. A constitution was formulated, and the first official General Meeting was held on 2 May 1962, during which Don Houghton was elected as the founding President. The original title of the organisation was later modified to the Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG).

The original annual fee was $12 and as there were no other sources of funding, additional revenue was raised through social functions held at the Ensemble Theatre. These were also an important way of bringing writers together. Other initiatives included the introduction of Associate members in 1963, with the Guild’s second President, James Workman, holding fund-raising craft workshops for Associates.

In late 1962 the Guild registered as a Trade Union in NSW. This coincided with the affiliation of a Victorian Chapter that had been set up by Alan Hopgood and John Abbott. Registration was seen as vitally important because it provided recognition and support from other Trade Unions within the industry, notably Actors’ Equity and the Musicians’ Union.

The Guild’s first industrial challenge was in 1963 over fees and residuals. Ironically, it was a dispute with the only commercial television station producing drama at that time. In 1957 ATN-7 in Sydney produced Australia’s first television serial, Autumn Affair (writer: Richard Lane). The dispute was over the series Jonah (writer: Eleanor Witcombe). ATN-7 was only offering $110 per script for all rights in perpetuity. The Guild considered this unacceptable and instructed members not to write for the program. With one exception, members stood firm.

The result was the first formal signing of an agreement between the AWG and television management. The fee was doubled and a limit was placed on the ownership of the rights. More importantly, it also signalled that the Guild was officially recognised by management as a bargaining power.

In 1964 Richard Lane became the Guild’s third President. That same year the writing community experienced a major setback when radio serials were axed on all commercial stations. The AWG campaigned vigorously against this, but failed to reinstate commercial radio drama. The demise of radio serials saw the loss of the main source of Guild members’ incomes.

It was this action that sparked the beginning of the Guild’s ongoing lobbying to establish minimum quotas for Australian content in television drama and the start of negotiations with the ABC to establish minimum fees and conditions for radio and television writers.

The year also saw the Guild affiliating with the newly formed International Writers’ Guild (IWG) and becoming part of a worldwide organisation of writers. This was taken one step further in 1966 when James Workman signed bi-lateral treaties with the British and American Writers’ Guilds.

Work conditions in 1964 were dire. Although drama series comprised around 70% of commercial television programing, nearly all of it was imported from Britain and the USA at a fraction of their original production cost. In fact, only around 7% of total television drama was Australian and the only locally produced drama was Crawford Productions’ Homicide.

In recognition of the plight of their Australian associates, the British Writers’ Guild asked their members to contribute a percentage of their Australian royalties to the AWG for a local content fighting fund. They also joined forces with the International Writers’ Guild to threaten to impose a blacklist on Australian production companies using non-Australian writers to write offshore scripts for Australian programs (although this was later strongly opposed by expatriate Australian writers living in Britain).

This support helped the Guild lobby ATN-7 over their refusal to use local writers for Riptide, a locally produced series made largely with British finance. The Guild demanded 50% of the Riptide scripts to be written by Australian writers. Although this campaign did not succeed, it nevertheless established a precedent for the principle of using Australian writers for locally produced series.

Guild President James Workman also received valuable support from the American and British Writers’ Guild Presidents, James Webb and Sir Ted Willis in directly lobbying industry and Government over local content quotas. As a consequence, in 1968 the Australian Broadcasting Control Board (ABCB) decreed that a small but definite quota of local drama (12-18 hours per month) should be shown on commercial television stations during prime time. Although much lower than the 25% quota suggested by the Guild, it was still double the amount of local drama that was being produced.

In 1967 the first AWGIE Awards dinner was held at the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney as a showcase for outstanding achievements in performance writing. The guests of honor included Prime Minister John Gorton and the ABC Chairman, Sir Robert Madgwick. Only 35 of the 250 guests were, in fact, AWG members.

That same year the Guild negotiated an agreement with Actors’ Equity to form a Guild Shop, one of the aims being to prevent non-AWG members from having work performed. The other aim was to form a united front in negotiations with the ABC for minimum rates and work conditions.

At that time, the ABC’s fees for scripts were much lower than the commercial networks. Also, the ABC refused to sign any Guild agreements on the basis that “to enter into a special relationship with any single group would seem to give disproportionate favour to that group over others.” As a result, the Guild joined forces with the Council of the Society of Authors and Actors’ Equity to lobby the ABC as a united front.

The Guild also joined with fourteen other film industry guilds to lobby the Federal Government over the formation of an Australian Film Development Branch, later to become the Australian Film Commission.

By 1969 the Guild had drawn up and signed eight different contracts and agreements with individual networks and production companies as new programs were developed. Richard Lane consolidated these contracts into a standard Industry-wide Agreement, based on British agreements. Initially, there was considerable support within the industry, but later stonewalling by The Federation of Commercial TV Stations (FACTS) over the issue of residuals stalled further negotiations, particularly with the ABC. It wasn’t until the early 70s that the ABC finally signed the Guild’s standard contract.

Richard Lane and James Workman alternated as Presidents until early 1969. They were followed by John Faassen and Stuart Glover until 1970 when Lance Peters took the helm and the Guild began a new decade of political and industrial activity.

By then the Guild had more than doubled its membership and moved from Pitt Street to new offices in Paddington, Sydney. Writers in WA had set up a local branch of the Guild and the Victorian chapter was negotiating with Crawford Productions over staff-writer conditions and pay.

The Guild had also begun offering a range of craft services to its members. A lending library of professional scripts was set up, along with a registration service to safeguard copyright. The Guild also began employing legal advisers to offer advice to members on issues such as contract negotiation.

In early 1970 the Victorian chapter, which comprised around one-third of the Guild’s membership, started lobbying the Sydney head office for greater autonomy. They were concerned that the Guild’s legal status as a NSW union, which only allowed for sub-branches in other States, didn’t allow members in other States sufficient input into the organisation’s decision making processes. Some Victorian members began agitating to split away and form a separate guild. It was suggested that the Guild’s constitution should be revised and restructured to allow the Guild to register as a Federal union with fully operative State branches. Federation was also seen as a way of increasing the Guild’s scope and power. As a consequence, a decision was made to hold an annual Federal Conference of all members.

At the same time the Guild began protesting to ATN-7 over the broadcasting of repeats of the ABC series Contrabandits as a means of fulfilling its drama content quota. Extensive lobbying of the ABC and politicians followed, eventually culminating in Guild President Lance Peters lobbying other industry guilds and white collar unions to launch the highly successful “Make it Australian” campaign.

In late 1970, as a result of much high-profile lobbying of politicians, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board (ABCB) raised the local content quota requirements. Fifty per cent of all programs were to be Australian, with a minimum of six hours of first release Australian drama per month to be shown between 6 and 10pm. A system of credit loadings was also introduced to force networks to produce first-release drama and to ensure repeats could not be used to fulfil the quota.

This marked the beginning of the Guild’s involvement in wider political and industrial issues such as moral rights and copyright protection, censorship, taxation and broadcasting legislation.

It also saw the Guild deliberately adopting a pro-Labor political stance. This was largely in response to the Liberal/NCP coalition’s refusal to support local content quotas, ratify the Berne Copyright Convention and offer tariff protection to the arts and entertainment industries.

The Guild’s tenth birthday in 1972 saw its affiliations broadened to include the Australian Film Commission (AFC), ACSPA, the Playwrights’ Conference, the “Make it Australian” Committee, the Children’s Film Council, the ASA, and the Copyright Council.

It was a hectic year of political activity. In the space of four months the Guild mediated in seven disputes, negotiated a Feature Film Agreement and Documentary Agreement with nine production houses and began developing guidelines and policies for writers for the stage culminating in the first standard Playwright’s Agreement. Joan Long submitted a 21-page report to the Tariff Enquiry and wrote a 53-page submission to a Senate inquiry on the arts.

Guild President Lance Peters lobbied the Guild’s IWG affiliates over the issue of co-productions and successfully negotiated an agreement to institute an international blacklist against producers who refused to employ local writers. It was the first time the Guild was represented on the IWG Executive Committee and it also marked the beginning of a long and frequently vitriolic campaign by the Guild to introduce measures protecting the rights of local writers working on co-productions.

The Guild also began negotiating a new ABC Agreement and a Television Series Agreement. There were campaigns to lobby against media ownership monopolies and declining television production standards, as well as for an increase in local content quotas to 75% of all programs, with a greater delineation of program categories. The Guild initiated a push to force local cinemas to guarantee that at least 3% of the films they screened were Australian.

Despite its successful public profile, the Guild was suffering major internal problems from declining revenue and continuing agitation from Victorian members over the Guild’s constitution. In 1972 Lance Peters stood down and Joan Long became the Guild’s first female President. The composition of the National Executive was also amended to allow the election of a Victorian Vice President.

In 1973 it was decided to impose an emergency levy to pay for an Executive Officer and index the annual fee to a percentage of member incomes. Joan Long resigned later that year due to ill health and Tony Morphett took over as Acting President. The following year, the Guild raised member fees and began employing an Executive Officer. It amended the National Executive Committee (NEC) to include three Victorian delegates: Lyn Bayonis, Cliff Green and Howard Griffiths. It also started forming sub-committees to deal with different industrial issues and began working on a proposal to register the AWG as a full industrial union.

In late 1973 the Guild joined the Film Action Committee chaired by Tom Jeffrey. One of the committee’s first actions was to organise a demonstration against visiting US film industry trouble-shooter, Jack Valenti. It was the first time there had been an open demonstration in support of the film and television industry and it received much publicity and media attention.

Industrial action continued through 1974. The Guild successfully blocked visas for four US writers who were being imported to work on a Crawford Productions’ show, as well as blocking Government funding for a theatrical production of Voss on the basis that it would employ a British writer and US director. The Guild negotiated a Serials Agreement with Reg Grundy Productions that excluded non-members from being employed. Work began on amending the Industry Wide Agreement to include clauses regarding residuals, largely a response to a secret agreement that was being formed between FACTS and the Film Producers’ Organisation to boycott producers who agreed to pay residuals to writers.

However, by 1975 the outlook had turned grim again. The Guild’s Industry-Wide Agreement was rejected by all the major producers, who were reluctant to negotiate with the Guild on an individual basis. Residuals were also a major sticking point. There was widespread industry unemployment and although film production was up, television production was at an all time low, despite the Government amending local content quotas to 75%. Production companies were stock-piling episodes of long-running series such as Division 4 and Homicide to satisfy local content requirements for the following two years. This grim scenario was to continue unchanged for several years.

By 1979 the industry outlook was dire. Production companies were stalling over the Industry-Wide Agreement, so Roger Simpson was appointed as Interim Industrial Officer. He headed an industrial sub-committee whose primary task was to bring recalcitrant production companies to the bargaining table. The industrial sub-committee also started re-examining the Guild’s affiliation with the NSW Trades and Labor Council.

That same year, negotiations began with the Australian Film Commission (AFC – formerly the AFDC) to produce a Standard Film Contract. The Guild also protested to the AFC over the treatment of writers in co-productions. This was part of a wider problem for the Guild, stemming from an IWG vote to abolish Australian Privilege and instead invoke a clause in the Affiliation Agreement allowing free movement of writers between countries. Local writers were in danger of being passed over in favour of overseas imports and it was only through strenuous lobbying by David Williamson, John Dingwall, Hugh Stuckey and John Martin that this was curtailed.

The Guild was also experiencing major problems with the ABC. Reg Grundy Productions had agreed to sign a Limited Programme Contract and Crawford Productions signed a General Programme Agreement. Both involved a new fee structure. But the ABC was proving very difficult, to the point where the Guild solicited support from the ASA and Copyright Council over possible action.

Similarly, a strike was nearly called over Channel 10 holding a competition for scripts for a new series, Arcade, and offering inappropriate contracts to selected writers.

In late 1979 David Williamson became President and Ted Roberts set up a script assessment service for new writers. A specialist Stage Sub-Committee was convened whose main goals were to secure a minimum royalty, to guarantee the author’s right to attend rehearsals and to secure a non-returnable advance against royalties in accordance with minimum amounts. The first committee included playwrights Ron Blair  as chair, Dorothy Hewett, Alex Buzo and Peter Kenna.

In late 1979 the South Australian Branch of the Guild registered as a legal entity, and began agitating over industrial issues. In 1980 this culminated in the longest and most successful strike in Guild history. Channel 9 paid Here’s Humphrey writers $60 for a one-hour script and refused to negotiate with the Guild on the basis that the number of members working for the program were too small to be an effective fighting force. An aggressive recruitment campaign doubled the membership so that all the major Here’s Humphrey writers were Guild members. They drew up a list of demands that included the raising of the fee to $250 per script, with residuals for repeats and overseas sales as well as proper contracts to be signed. Also, writers were to be limited to Guild members only. Management refused the demands, so a strike was called in November. Actors’ Equity pledged support and the strike continued for six months until March 1981, ending when all the Guild’s demands were accepted, except for the requirement that employment be limited to Guild members only.

Further industrial action in 1980 involved the Guild and major trade unions forming joint opposition to proposed legislation to deregulate television stations. The Guild ratified the first worldwide writers’ strike against US producers, which was the result of an IWG resolution that if any member calls a strike, all other affiliate guilds must support it.

The Guild held its first National Guild Conference in1981 to debate a new constitution and National and State structures. A key issue was its status as a national legal entity with trade union principles. A new National Executive Committee was set up with representatives from all States, with general policy run by a Sydney-based Management Committee comprising State representatives. New membership categories were established for full members (professional writers for radio, TV, theatre and film), script editors, students and honorary membership for non-writer Guild supporters. A fighting fund was also set up from moneys recovered from producers on behalf of members and preliminary discussions started for setting up a writer superannuation scheme.

In September the Victorian Chapter hosted the IWG Conference and International Copyright Symposium. Major achievements during the conference included the finalisation of a Stage Agreement (a result of a threat to blacklist recalcitrant theatre companies), the finalisation of revised Feature Film and Documentary Agreements and the ratification of a new Guild constitution.

In 1983 the Guild was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. Among other things, this allowed automatic arbitration under the ARB Act. It also gave the Guild limited agency rights on a collective bargaining basis.

Negotiations commenced in 1984 for a Series & Serials Agreement while a Mini-Series Agreement was drafted by the Guild’s legal officer, Rick Raftos. The following year work also began on the Telemovie Agreement. In November the Guild held its first annual Craft Weekend in Katoomba.

In 1985 Roger Simpson and John Dingwall challenged the AFC over its 10BA funding reform. Simpson and Dingwall’s Film First proposal opposed the concept of the licensing of brokers and merchant banks to control film funding. Film First met with strong resistance within the AFC and caused considerable division with the Guild among writers who felt that the Guild was too preoccupied with broad political interests at the expense of core writer issues.

Cuts in film funding tax concessions remained a major preoccupation of the AWG throughout 1987. The Guild lobbied for increases in Government support for the local film and television industries through the establishment of the Film Finance Corporation, the retention of tax incentives and increases in local content quotas. The Guild also signed a co-production accord with other unions and the AFC, negotiating for 66% of scripts (or five out of seven productions per year) to be written by Australian writers.

By 1988 residuals had become a major sticking point, with the Guild campaigning to renegotiate low residual fees in their major agreements and contracts. Guild President Geoffrey Atherden and Executive Officer Angela Wales began to renegotiate the co-production accord with the AFC, which had proved to be incompatible with co-production treaties that were being signed between Australia and other countries.

By the AWG’s 30th birthday celebrations in 1992, the Guild stood as an undisputed force within the film, television, radio and theatre industries. It had around 850 full members and 850 associates throughout Australia, a full-time Executive Officer and a staffed office in Sydney, a part-time office in Melbourne, and chapters in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

In 1996 the Guild negotiated the first collective agreement for the theatre industry. The Theatre Industry Agreement (TIA) comprises minimum rates and conditions for commissioning and licensing agreements. The TIA also has the writer’s share of box office receipts at 10%, one of the highest rates achieved internationally.

The Theatre Industry Handbook contains a number of model agreements and recommended rates of pay for specialised areas of theatre such as community, theatre in education and “in residence” playwrights.

A new Series & Serial Agreement was negotiated in 1998 with an increase in the Minimum Basic Use Fee (MBUF) of 22% over three-and-a-half years.

In 1999, in an effort to build a stronger industrial emphasis, the Guild conducted a trade union training course on organising and building collective strength amongst performance writers. This course culminated in the formation of industrial sub-committees in various states equipped to handle negotiations with producers and develop strategies for building Guild membership.

Between 1997 and 1999 the Guild devoted a considerable amount of resources to the campaign to enshrine moral rights in Australian legislation. The Guild lobbied hard on ensuring that the legislation did not allow for a waiver of creators’ moral rights. These efforts culminated in the passing of the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act in December 2000.

With the assistance of ACCIRT, the industrial relations research centre at the University of Sydney, the Guild conducted a comprehensive survey of the demographics of its membership in 2000. The results of the survey have proved invaluable in mapping the future directions of the Guild.

2001 saw a comprehensive ballot of the Guild membership about its future directions. The result was a resounding confirmation of the Guild’s current direction and overwhelming support for plans to be registered as a trade union under the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

By the start of the new Millenium, the Guild had become recognised as an organisation whose members worked in a greatly expanded film and television industry. Guidelines and minimum rates were established for writers across the spectrum of feature film, documentary, television, radio and theatre and it has negotiated agreements with the Screen Producers’ Association of Australia (SPAA) and all major television production companies and broadcasters for television series and serials rates and residuals.

The AWG was born in an era of uncertainty, insecurity and excitement. It has played a significant role in the development of Australia’s film and television industries and its history is a story of an uncompromising determination to protect the rights of all writers for the screen, radio and theatre.

Gina Roncoli

AWG Full Member, copyright 2001

Our Board

Jan Sardi - President

Jan is one of Australia’s eminent screenwriters. In 1997 he received an Academy Award Nomination for his screenplay for Shine, as well as nominations for BAFTA, the Writers Guild of America, and the Golden Globes. In 2003 he wrote and directed Love’s Brother, an award winning Australian/UK production. He also adapted the hit films The Notebook and Mao’s Last Dancer for the screen. His most recent project is The Secret River, a two part mini-series for the ABC, based on the novel by Kate Grenville. During his long membership of the AWG, Jan Sardi has been a passionate advocate of writers, having served on numerous committees including as a member and Chair of the AWG Victorian Committee; a member of the National Executive Council, as well being on the organising committee for the Guild's flagship event - The National Screenwriters Conference.

Roger Simpson - Vice President, NSW

A Guild member since the 1970s, this is Roger’s third time back as Vice President (each time separated by the need to rest and write). A winner of eight AWGIEs, four AFI’s, two Logies and one Astra, pride of place on his shelf goes to his two Henry Lawson Awards and memories of the Guinea Pig Races that highlight the festival weekend in Grenfell where the awards are held. Despite New Year’s resolutions never to stand for office again, Roger is forced to admit that stints on the boards of the Guild, the FFC and Film Victoria have added to his appreciation of the industry – and urges young writers everywhere to “get involved”.

Mac Gudgeon - Vice President, VIC

Mac has been a member of the AWG since 1985. He was Chairman of the Victorian branch of the AWG 1988-89, President of AWG 1998-2000 and Vice-President since 2012. He is currently Chair of the AWG Television Committee. He was board member of Film Victoria 1993-96 and 2000-2005.
Mac has written more than 30 hours of television and four feature films. He is an AWGIE winner and inaugural recipient of the Foxtel Fellowship for Excellence in Television Writing (2007). Mac was born, raised and is proud to be a Wollongong boy. He moved to Melbourne in 1970.

Teresa Crea - SA Representative

Teresa is an experienced creative practitioner with a long and distinguished career as a writer, director and researcher. She combines her knowledge of the cultural, simulation and media sectors with a range of award winning credits in theatre, live art, radio, installation and immersive media. Her works have been presented nationally and overseas in the UK, Singapore and South America. More recently her interdisciplinary doctoral investigation into live simulation and digitally augmented environments has seen her specialise in narrative dramaturgy in these contexts from a neuroscientific perspective. Teresa's focus on narrative sense-making and immersive experiences involves a 'bottom up' practice led approach, which starts with the user experience, and leads back to the story.

Michael Harvey - VIC Representative

Michael has written professionally for 40 years, with 80 hours of script and/or editing credits on all major TV networks. He won an AWGIE Award for his episode of the ABC TV Drama Janus; he created and co-produced the TEN Drama State Coroner, whose pilot script won an AWGIE nomination, and created and co-produced the ABC mini-series, Dirt Game. Michael is a former AWG Victorian State Chair and Vice President, a current Victorian NEC representative, and also received the 2000 Richard Lane Award for his services to the Guild.

Jacquelin Perske - NSW Representative

Jacquelin has worked extensively in television as a writer and producer on shows such as Big Sky, Raw FM, Fireflies and The Secret Life of Us. She has created and produced Love My Way, Spirited and Deadline Gallipoli for TV and wrote the screenplay for the feature film Little Fish. Jacquelin continues to develop and write for both domestic and international networks. She is a committed advocate for writers and sits on both the AWG board and Chairs the NSW State Committee.

Katherine Thomson - NSW Representative

Katherine joined the AWG in 1984 and has served the Guild in various capacities including as Vice President. Among her many professional achievements is being a recipient of both the QLD and NSW Premier’s Literary Awards as well as 12 AWGIEs including a Major AWGIE for Answered by Fire. Her play Harbour was commissioned to open the new Sydney Theatre, and Katherine’s most recent work on screen has been the telemovies House of Hancock and Schapelle, two projects she remembers as being written with lawyers sitting on her shoulders. Her latest theatrical release is Women He’s Undressed, a feature film documentary for Gillian Armstrong about the (almost) unknown Orry-Kelly, an Oscar winning costume designer.

Peter Mattessi - VIC Representative

Peter joined the AWG in 2008. He has spent most of his professional life writing television drama. In the UK, he writes for Eastenders and Holby City. He was Senior Script Editor at Eastenders for many years, wrote for Waterloo Road, and was Script Producer for Eastenders’ teen-based spinoff, Eastenders: E20. He also has a number of original projects in development. In Australia he has written for all Home and Away, Out of the Blue and is currently writing for Neighbours. Peter has written children’s shows Worst Year of my Life Again and Specky Magee.

Shayne Armstrong - QLD Representative

Shayne Armstrong is an award-winning Australian film and TV screenwriter specialising in horror, thriller and science-fiction. As one half of the Armstrong & Krause screenwriting partnership (with SP Krause), his credits include the feature films Acolytes and Bait 3D, telemovies Johnny Bravo Goes to Bollywood and Exchange Student Zero, and the children’s TV sci-fi series and Doctor Who spin-off K-9. Along with his writing partner, Shayne is a two-time winner of the AWG John Hinde Award For Excellence In Science-Fiction and their sci-fi short script Rarer Monsters won Best Short Film Script award at the 2013 AWGIES.
Shayne is a script consultant and a writer and creative consultant for Disney X-D (UK/Europe and US) and Cartoon Network (Asia-Pacific). He is also a lecturer and tutor of screenwriting at University of Queensland and the New York Film Academy (Gold Coast). He has a Master of Arts in Screenwriting from QUT, Brisbane.

Ian David - NSW Representative

After a short stint as a poet and playwright in Perth, Western Australia, Ian David moved to Sydney. In 1984, he graduated from the AFTRS, majoring in writing and direction. He is a recipient of major industry awards for film and television writing in Australia, including AFI, LOGIE, ATOM and AWGIEs. In 1996 he received the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award and the following year delivered the MacPherson Memorial lecture at the Sydney Film Festival. In 2001, he received the Byron Kennedy Award from the Australian Film Institute and was awarded a Centennial Medal for his service to the Australian film and television industry. In 2007, he was awarded the inaugural Kit Denton Fellowship and in 2011, he received the Richard Lane Award for outstanding service and dedication to the Australian Writers’ Guild. He has represented Australia at UNESCO at conferences on cultural diversity. He is currently teaching screenwriting at the University of Sydney and has returned to writing poetry.

Barbara Connell - WA Representative

A U.S. expatriate who moved away from Hollywood to pursue a career in the film industry, Barbara is a screenwriter, script editor, development consultant and partner in Leap Frog Films/Tugg Australia. And while she happily followed her heart and her husband to Western Australia, starting over again in the most isolated capital city in the world was a difficult transition. The AWG helped make it less so. Barbara’s service on the WA State Committee and the NEC is her “thank you” to the friends and colleagues who have helped her find her way and it is her commitment to do the same for others.

Chris Corbett - VIC Representative

Chris has written more than forty hours of television – including episodes of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Stingers, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Blue Heelers, The Secret Life of Us, McLeod’s Daughters and All Saints. He also wrote and produced the short films Fences and The Applicant, which have screened at various festivals around the world including the Aspen Shortsfest. He has taught screenwriting at RMIT’s Professional Screenwriting Course, AFTRS, Open Channel, Melbourne University Summer Film School and at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Alana Valentine - NSW Representative

Alana is a writer and broadcaster as well as a screen-printed textile maker. In 2015 Head Full of Love will tour nationally and Barefoot Divas played the Hong Kong Arts Festival. In 2014 Alana Valentine was dramaturg on Bangarra’s Patyegarang, won an AWGIE Award for Community/Youth Theatre writing for Comin’ Home Soon and won the BBC International Radio Writing Competition. In 2013, Alana Valentine won three AWGIE Awards, including the Major AWGIE, the inaugural David Wiliamson Prize and the Youth and Community Theatre AWGIE for Grounded. In 2012 she won the 5th STAGE International Playwriting Award for Ear to the Edge of Time. Her plays Parramatta Girls and Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah are both on the NSW Schools Syllabus.

Our Staff


Jacqueline Elaine
Executive Director

Lindy Crozier
Executive Administrator

Karen Johnston
Director of Finance

Ana Burela
AWGACS Collections & Distributions Manager

Maria Turkina
AWGACS Collections & Distributions Officer

Wendy Howell
Manager, Industrial Affairs

Bryant Apolonio
Industrial Officer

Emma Rafferty
Director, Member Services

Susie Hamilton
Manager, Pathways

Carolina Pye
Research & Administration Officer

Oliver Woodman
Research & Administration Officer

Olga Nowicka
Member Engagement & Diversity Officer

Ashlee Sang
Program & Administration Officer

Pete Valentish
Membership Officer

Jazmin Weatherall
Administration Officer

Shannen Usher
Communications Officer

Louise Ridlen
IT Consultant

In Memoriam


Louisa Steckenreuter
Projects & Events Manager

Our Committees

Our members work together to represent their fellow writers across the industry in a number of committees such as the Feature Film, Children’s, Television and Theatre committees to negotiate for fair pay and conditions. Members are also elected to State and Territory Committees that meet on a regular basis to network, support each other, develop their craft and have a lot of fun in the process! Our local committees and their regular events are listed below. If you need more information or would like to contact our committee Chairs please email us at admin@awg.com.au.

Games & Interactive Advisory Committee (GIAC)

The Australian Writers’ Guild has launched a new group to support writers working in interactive media. The new Games & Interactive Advisory Committee (GIAC) is dedicated to establishing the priorities of one of Australia’s fastest-growing creative industries. The committee is chaired by AWG board member Teresa Crea, a cross media writer/director, and draws its membership from across the sector. More information about GIAC can be found here.

NSW Committee

Chair: Lisa Hoppe

Write Night hosts monthly events which inspire, entertain and challenge writers. We organise panels, Q&As, masterclasses, Speed Pitching evenings, script assessment auctions and competitions, not to mention ending the year with our legendary Christmas party! We’re committed to connecting writers to other writers – regardless of experience, genre and format. We fundraise to support lower income writers and have recently established two NSW membership bursaries. 

Being a writer doesn’t have to be a solo occupation – please like our Write Night Facebook page to stay updated.

SA Committee

Chair: Simon Butters

The AWG South Australian committee represents the interests of local writers in film, television and theatre. The committee meets regularly with industry bodies such as the South Australian Film Corporation to promote writers’ opportunities and conditions. The committee offers development and networking opportunities at various events throughout the year.

WA Committee

Chair: Barbara Connell

The WA Committee works closely with practitioners, industry and ScreenWest to promote screenwriting and screenwriters in WA. We have a home in Northbridge that is a creative hub for producers, writers and theatre practitioners. We host monthly screenwriting and playwriting groups along with regular Q&As with visiting writers, professional development workshops, roundtable events to share industry knowledge and social networking events. In partnership with ScreenWest, we run the Bill Warnock emerging feature film writer Award and we are developing a number of new, targeted practitioner-focused programs to support individual career development at all levels of professional practice. If you would like to advance your writing career and access opportunities available through the AWG in WA please contact wa@awg.com.au.

VIC Committee

Chair: Christine Rogers

The Victorian branch of the Australian Writers’ Guild is a dynamic community of emerging and established writers. Every month we host industry based events, from panel discussions, guest speakers, staged readings to craft focused sessions. These events create the opportunity for writers of all levels to get together, compare notes and make new friends. Our final meeting of the year is a big Christmas party full of fun, drinks, trivia contests and talk about all things writerly. 

We also host yearly workshops for members as well as convene events in association with Melbourne International Film Festival and the St Kilda Film Festival. For those of us who struggle to get the words down on the page, we hold regular Shut Up and Write sessions at a local bar.  Check out our upcoming events on our Facebook Group.

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