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9 April, 2020
 
Write-ability, April 2020
 
So much has changed since our last newsletter in February. As the April Write-ability newsletter goes to press, Writers Victoria staff, like our colleagues at the Wheeler Centre and State Library, are working remotely – at this stage until 30 June. You can read the State Library of Victoria’s announcement, and check for updates, here.

For Writers Victoria, this means face-to-face workshops, mentorships and consultations are on hold, but we are doing our best to bring our services to you. Our website remains a great resource for writers staying at home, and you can still take part in online workshops, mentorships and assessments – our calendar of events is the place to work out which planned workshops have been cancelled, and which will be happening online. 

Here at Write-ability, we are determined to stay in touch with you. For any Write-ability related queries, please continue to contact Write-ability Program Manager Lyndel Caffrey via email or by calling 0422 647 725. Any messages on the Write-ability work number are unlikely to reach us for some time.
For Write-ability, the COVID 19 Pandemic has meant the postponement of our planned Write-abilty Goes Local: Mornington Peninsula Program, which was scheduled for Mornington Peninsula Libraries from April-December 2020. We look forward to rescheduling the program in collaboration with Mornington Peninsula Shire and Peninsula Writers Club when life returns to normal. Like libraries throughout the state, Mornington Peninsula Libraries are closed, but this good news story from The Age shows how local librarians will be helping their community until their libraries can open again.
Dulcie Stone Writing Competition

The Dulcie Stone Writing Competition for people with intellectual disability, with its theme of “A Good Life: Are We There Yet?" is still running so keep working on your stories and storyboards. The competition deadline has been extended until Friday 24th July 2020.

For those of you who haven’t submitted an entry yet, this will give you a chance to prepare a terrific piece of writing for the judges to have a look at. For those who have submitted work, if you would like to refine your entry and resubmit please feel free to do just that.

For more information about the Dulcie Stone Writers Competition, visit our website here.
Four of last year’s winners smiling and holding up their certificates.
2020 Write-ability Fellowship Program

Our 2020 Write-ability Fellowship Program will be open for applications from today.  Thanks to the Grace Marion Wilson Trust for once again funding this vital professional development opportunity which recognises 5 outstanding writers with disability each year.

We are happy to announce that this year, in addition to the 5 fellowships generously provided each year by the Grace Marion Wilson Trust, we will be offering an additional poetry fellowship thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. This additional fellowship will be awarded to a poet and will include a fully funded place in Andy Jackson’s Online Poetry Clinic, which will run between July–November 2020.

Please be aware that, subject to health and safety guidelines in place during the pandemic, the 2020 Write-ability fellowships will be available as online professional development – for example mentorships, assessments and workshops conducted by telephone, email or video calls – only.

Visit our website for more information on the 2020 Write-ability Fellowship Program.
Staffing Changes

The wonderful Andy Jackson, who managed our Write-ability Fellowships in 2019, has resigned from his position due to other work commitments. Any of you who have had the good fortune to meet up with Andy know how much he has contributed to Write-ability over the years, not only as project officer, but also as tutor and presenter in our regional program, as a fellowships judge and as a poetry mentor. His warmth, empathy and wisdom will be missed by all of us at Writers Victoria. Below, Andy writes to us in his capacity as project officer for the last time.
After almost a year at Writers Victoria, as the Project Officer for the Write-ability Fellowships, I've decided to pass the baton on, in order to focus more on teaching and mentoring, and writing my own poetry. I'll miss working alongside such passionate, ethical and generous people; and it's been a huge privilege and pleasure to be supporting disabled writers to make the next step in their development. At this current time, I'm acutely aware (as I'm sure you all are) of our shared vulnerability, the need for mutual care, and how crucial it is the voices of disabled people are heard. I know that Writers Victoria and Write-ability will continue to support you, and I look forward to seeing more of your writing as time goes on.

Love and solidarity,
Andy
You can keep up with Andy’s work via his website, amongtheregulars.com.

Write-ability Program Manager Lyndel Caffrey will be taking over the management of this year’s Write-ability Fellowships. Lyndel works Mondays and Tuesdays. If you have any questions about this year’s fellowship program, you can contact Lyndel here.
Andy Jackson working from home.
COVID-19 Responses

Andy assembled some recent online responses to COVID-10 by disabled writers, artists and organisations, which you can access below.
 
Starting With Julius is a project that promotes the inclusion of people with disability in Australian advertising, media and beyond. In this post, Catia Malaquias examines the potential for medical discrimination against people with disability during the current health crisis.
 
The Disability Visibility Project is an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture. In this article, Amy Gaeta reflects on how much nondisabled people need the disabled community in this pandemic. She writes: “We are experts when it comes to isolation and pandemics. We know how to advocate our legal rights as patients … and stock up on supplies for weeks. We know how to live vulnerably, which is to live together. We know all this because for many of us, it’s our daily reality.”
For people with NDIS packages, COVID 19 may affect the way you receive services. You’ll find NDIS updates here.
 
Finally, if you’re a Facebooker, you may find the following Facebook groups useful, encouraging and even entertaining: 
Other News

Congratulations to Write-ability Fellow Michelle Vasiliu who has won a 2020 May Gibbs Creative Time Fellowship! Michelle will use the fellowship to continue drafting the middle grade novel that she began developing as part of her Write-ability fellowship. Michelle’s first picture book, 'Happy Sad Mummy' was published in 2015. Her second picture book, 'Together Things' about a father who has depression, has just been published by EK Books.

The release of Growing Up Disabled in Australia has been postponed until February 2021. Black Inc. have decided to delay release in order to launch this "ground breaking book" with the fanfare it deserves. Contributors, disabled communities and their allies who have followed the development of this book with excitement and anticipation will have to wait a little longer before we can celebrate the book's launch and begin turning the pages and reading the many wonderful stories it contains.

Author Maribel Steel has been interviewed about her self-help book 'Blindness for Beginners' on the British podcast Read On. Maribel also passed on the link for the American Foundations of the Blind’s article, Seven Blind Women You Should Know About for Women's History Month which includes Australian advocate for change and Australia’s first blind teacher, Tilly Aston.
Maribel Steel wearing a red shirt, writing at a table in her garden.
That’s all from Write-ability for now. Our next edition will be a special issue featuring recently commissioned writing from regional and city writers.

– Writers Victoria
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