letters seeming to fall from the sky black on white with vertical lines

Judy Harris Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the Charles Perkins Centre

Utilising a literary perspective on health and chronic disease
The program invites Australian creative writers to apply for a generous University of Sydney fellowship, including a $100,000 grant, to begin a project exploring issues around health.

Applications for the Judy Harris Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the Charles Perkins Centre 2024 will open in March 2024.


The Judy Harris Writer-in-Residence Fellow at the Charles Perkins Centre 2023 is writer and journalist Lech Blaine.

The Charles Perkins Centre Writer in Residence Fellowship is made possible through the generous support of University of Sydney alumna and patron Judy Harris. Established in 2017 the fellowship provides a $100,000 grant and the unique opportunity to work on a project related to the issues that the Charles Perkins Centre is dedicated to solving, including health, wellbeing, food, ageing, social disadvantage and cultural identity.

“Thanks to the generosity of our donor and patron Judy Harris, we are delighted to be able to offer this fellowship to the Australian writing community,” said Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre.

“We welcome interest from Australia’s best writers to apply for this rare opportunity – and to help us bring awareness to issues around health in a creative way.

“The Charles Perkins Centre requires a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach, and it has been fascinating to see how our innovative research can intersect with the arts – with powerful and often emotional effect,” said Professor Simpson.

A novel approach to health: New perspectives arising from research and creativity

The Nicholas Catchlove Lecture 2023 | A novel approach to health: New perspectives arising from research and creativity Explore the nexus between health research and creativity with two writers – Sarah Holland-Batt and Lech Blaine – and two researchers – Dr Janani Thillainadesan and Professor Greg Neely – in an exciting discussion wrangled by Professor Stephen Simpson.


The writer in residence also receives working space at the Charles Perkins Centre Research and Education Hub on the University’s Camperdown campus, full access to the University’s library, and the opportunity to work with our researchers, educators and clinicians

Participants in this residency are directed towards Australian writers in a creative genre including fiction, poetry, performance, creative non-fiction, digital media, or screen.

“The Charles Perkins Centre requires a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach, and it has been fascinating to see how our innovative research can intersect with the arts – with powerful and often emotional effect.
Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre

Our current and past Writers-in-Residence

Since its establishment in 2016, the Judy Harris Writer in Residence Fellowship at the Charles Perkins Centre has supported a number of Australia’s leading creative writers to collaborate with the interdisciplinary expertise at the Charles Perkins Centre to help bring to bear the power of creative writing to the communication of complex health and social challenges.

The Fellowship is highly sought-after in the arts industry and has greatly enriched the Charles Perkins Centre community in welcoming stellar representatives from Australia’s writing community to engage with our research and researchers. The works arising from the fellowships have encompassed a number of the Charles Perkins Centre research themes including ageing, cancer, the psychological impact of ‘nutrition wars’, maternity, biology, and hoarding. 

Writer and journalist Lech Blaine, author of Car Crash: A Memoir and Quarterly Essay 'Top Blokes', will join the Charles Perkins Centre in mid-2023. Lech will study the heart and the brain, and the ability of diet and exercise to improve the condition of both. He will also contemplate the ethics of genetic editing and euthanasia.

The Fellowship’s first poet, Sarah Holland-Batt, academic, poet and aged-care advocate will use her residency to complete her fourth book of poetry and a book of personal essays. Deep brain treatment, the unknown side of Parkinson’s disease, ageing and mortality are among the subjects Sarah explores.

Acclaimed novelist Tracy Sorensen’s residency was spent working on the story of a woman’s advanced abdominal cancer as told from the point of view of her threatened and affected organs to be published later in 2022.

Author and writing teacher Emily Maguire spent her residency learning about the emotional and psychological implications of hoarding to write her sixth novel, Love Objects (Allen&Unwin, 2021), which examines social disadvantage, belonging, and health.

Written partly during her residency, Alana Valentine’s play Made to Measure premiered at the Seymour Centre in 2019 to positive reviews, addressing issues of health including the psychological impact of the nutrition wars. 

Mireille writes novels, short fiction, essays, scripts and reviews and her residency saw her researching research inherited trauma in epigenetics and the concept of the “doubled body” in pregnancy. This work will underpin a novel exploring contemporary life through the idea of the double.

Charlotte Wood was the Fellowship's first writer in residence., resulting in the Fellowship’s first novel The Weekend (Allen&Unwin) published in 2019. Dealing with friendship, community and ageing,  The Weekend was published to great critical acclaim and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, shortlisted for the Stella Prize, and won the Australian Book Industry’s Literary Fiction Book of the Year.

Related Articles