Tasmanian students take up their pens against poverty

Pens against Poverty illustration showing a person drawing and the words 'Time for change'

Tasmanian students have demonstrated creative flair and the ability to grasp complex issues in this year’s Pens Against Poverty national writing competition.

Pens Against Poverty is an official activity of Anti-Poverty Week (17-23 October) that aims to promote understanding of poverty and homelessness and encourage young writers in years 3-10 to hone their craft.

Anglicare Tasmania was a partner in this year’s competition, which was extended to Tasmanian students for the first time.

The Hutchins School shared the Teaching Excellence Award with Pymble Ladies College of New South Wales and Emmaus Christian School (ACT). The judges said The Hutchins School submitted a “superb number of entries [that also] showed an attempt to understand the many forms of poverty and homelessness across the world as well as seeking ways to alleviate homelessness and to understand it. The stories were simple and extremely well told.”

Hutchins Year 7 student William Harris was announced as the winner of the Jackie French Young Writer Development Award.

Ms French was joined on the judging panel by Ursula Dubosarsky, Children’s Laureate 2020-2021, poet John Foulcher, Professor Robyn Ewing Professor of Literacy and the Arts at The University of Sydney and Anglicare Australia CEO Kasy Chambers.

She said on behalf of the panel: “It was heart-warming to see so many students reaching for a depth of understanding on social issues. This year, too, teachers have become true superheroes. Having so many entries, with so much magnificent teacher engagement at such a challenging and exhausting time for all teachers says so much about their passion and commitment.”

Year 10 St Michael’s Collegiate School student Lily Ward won the John Foulcher Young Poet Encouragement Award. The judges said her poem used “poignant imagery to convey a sense of the character’s desperation.”

Evie Norton of Launceston Church Grammar School was highly commended in the Year 9-10 Poetry section, while Leon Gelman of The Hutchins School was highly commended in the Years 7-8 Story category.

Anglicare Tasmania’s Parish Community Development Officer Margaret Savage worked with the schools as they responded to the competition theme, Time for Change, in the months leading up to Anti-Poverty Week.

“The Anglican schools are very committed to tackling poverty in our state, and they always contribute very generously to our Christmas and Winter Appeals,” she said.

“The students’ enthusiasm for this project demonstrated a genuine desire to learn more about the lives of people experiencing disadvantage and homelessness. Their stories and poems combined sheer talent with a high level of empathy for this challenging topic. It was wonderful to see,” said Margaret.

You can watch the awards ceremony and find out more about this competition on the Pens Against Poverty website.

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