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Raqiya Ahmed (NSW) is an emerging Indo-Fijian writer and artist based on Dharug country. She is interested in intersectional identity politics and often unconsciously alludes to the sacrificial love of a mother in her written works. On other occasions, she eagerly explores the contemplative and psychological dimensions of realism through still-life and slow cinematic approaches accompanied by either mild or heavy symbolism. Apart from failed retail and admin experiences, Raqiya has had small works infrequently published in print and exhibited in galleries. She was a finalist for the STILL: National, Fishers Ghost Art Award, and the SBS Anthology Between Two Worlds.   

Claire Cao (NSW) is a writer and editor living on Darug land. She is the current film editor for The Big Issue Australia and was Kill Your Darlings’ 2022 New Critic. She was one of the screenwriters of the feature film Here Out West and has worked as an assistant programmer for Sydney Film Festival. Her fiction and arts criticism have been published in ArtReview, The Guardian, Going Down Swinging, LIMINAL, Meanjin, Sydney Morning Herald, Frankie and more. She is currently working on a horror novel, and is interested in strange architecture, memory and slasher films. 

Jake Corvus (QLD) is a queer, transgender author living and creating on Kabi Kabi lands. He has five novels published with Harlequin and HarperCollins under a pseudonym. He loves horror, sci-fi and fantasy–particularly queer and inclusive fiction. He is passionate about the Australian queer creative community, and has judged the Aurealis and Norma K Hemming Awards, and presented at Genrecon and RWA. He was the first recipient of the Flinthart Residency. 

Laniyuk (VIC) is a Larrakia, Kungarakan, Gurindji and French political creative whose art practise is grounded in cultural, language and land reclamation. She writes and performs poetry, speculative fiction, short memoir and is a visual artist. She gives lectures, moderates panels and runs workshops. Having recently completed Garuwa and Doc Society’s First Nations Impact Lab Laniyuk is interested in working at the intersection of film, truth telling and justice.    

Maria van Neerven (QLD) is a Mununjali Yugambeh lives on Meanjin country. She is a retired library technician who loves reading and writing poetry. Maria won the 2023 David Unaipon Award. Her first published story was in the journal The Lifted Brow: Blak Brow (2018) and she has also published poetry in In Our Hands (2022), a collection of poetry from Elders and knowledge keepers. Maria has also published a poem in the recent journal Aniko Press: Issue 4 Double (2023) ‘What if my mother was born white.’ She also published a poem recently in Meanjin Vol. 82. no.3 Spring (2023) ‘Kanna’. Maria’s work focuses on themes such as colonisation, racism, discrimination, family, and mental health.  



Highly commended 

In addition to the five successful recipients, the Judges identified five highly commended entries to The Next Chapter. 

Munira Tabassum Ahmed (NSW) is an 18-year-old writer. Her work is published in Best of Australian Poems 2021, Meanjin, Australian Poetry Journal, Liminal, Runway Journal, The Lifted Brow, Cordite, and elsewhere. She was the 2022 Kat Muscat Fellow, a Youth Ambassador for Red Room Poetry, and a medalist at the 2022 National Youth Poetry Slam. 

Fernanda Dahlstrom (QLD) is a writer, editor and lawyer who lives in Brisbane. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, Kill Your Darlings, Overland, Feminartsy, Mascara Literary Review, Art Guide and Sydney Review of Books. 

Liz Habermann (SA) was born in Brisbane in 1970. Throughout her lifetime she has lived in various regions, and is now happily settled in a small country town on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia where she and her husband have owned the local bakery for sixteen years. The mother of five has always enjoyed reading and is now eight years into learning the art of writing with hopes that one day, she can call herself a writer. 

Alana Hicks (NSW) is a Papua New Guinean-born, Gadigal-based writer and director. She was the inaugural winner of the 2020 SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition and is currently working on her debut novel Home is a Foreign Country. As a director, her short films have featured in film festivals such as Flickerfest, BFI London Film Festival and SXSW Sydney. In her spare time she likes to juggle fruit and then eat the fruit, complaining loudly that it’s all bruised. 

Gurmeet Kaur (VIC) is a poet and critic living on Wurundjeri Country. Her work appears in Kill Your Darlings, Ambit, Cordite, Sydney Review of Books, Peril, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of residencies and fellowships from Varuna, Footscray Arts Centre, City of Maribyrnong and others. Gurmeet is a participant of Malthouse Theatre’s Besen Emerging Writer Group and a New Critic at Kill Your Darlings in 2023. 

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