The Esme Fenston Fellowship

The Esme Fenston Fellowship has been introduced to mark the 90th birthday in 2023 of The Australian Women’s Weekly. It has been made possible by a partnership between the Walkley Foundation and The Australian Women’s Weekly publisher, Are Media.

The Fellowship will support an emerging freelance woman* journalist who is living and working in regional Australia. The overall aim of the Fellowship is to encourage regional women writers, support longform journalism and public interest journalism, and shine a light on the issues that mean the most to women in regional Australia. It is hoped that the fellowship winner will form an ongoing relationship as a contributor to The Weekly.

We would encourage all women of diverse gender, socio-economic and cultural groups to apply.


About Esme Fenston

Esme Fenston (1908-1972) was born in Sydney and started her reporting career at 17 on the national arts journal, The Triad. She worked at the Daily Guardian, Daily Telegraph Pictorial, and edited the women’s pages of The Land, until in 1938, she was invited by Sir Frank Packer to join The Australian Women’s Weekly.

She rose to become its Editor in 1950, at a time when the magazine’s circulation was 750,000 and the cover price sixpence. She spent 22 years in the role until her death in 1972 from a heart attack. Esme Fenston was awarded an OBE for services to journalism in 1967.

The prize

The winner will travel to Sydney to spend a minimum of 5 days with The Weekly team, where they will attend key editorial meetings and receive training and one-to-one mentoring with editors, writers, and sub-editors, and with members of the Are Media digital and photographic teams.

The winner will also be introduced to the editors of other Are Media titles, including Country Style and Marie Claire – which publish high-quality longform stories about the issues that affect regional Australia.

This on-the-job support will help the winner strengthen pitching, researching and writing skills, and interview techniques, and develop an understanding of the editorial direction of the magazine and the style of stories it publishes.

The winner will then return home to work towards producing a minimum of four feature-length stories in The Australian Women’s Weekly, created with the guidance of the News and Features Editor, and published over the course of one year. It is estimated that these stories will be approximately 2000 words in length. A travel budget will be agreed if travel is required to locations related to each story.

The winner will be paid a stipend at the magazine’s casual award rate for days spent at The Weekly’s Sydney office, and travel and accommodation in Sydney will be covered by the fellowship.

Published stories will be paid at The Weekly’s standard rate of $1 per word, at the length commissioned by the editor. The winner will also be paid at the magazine’s standard rate for any of her own images published with the stories.

How to apply

It’s free to complete an online application through the AwardForce platform.

Applicants must submit the following to complete your online application:

  • 1 x copy of your current CV in PDF format listing past publications.
  • 3 x previously published examples of your best long-form written work. This can be in the form of a PDF document or URL.
  • A reference from the publishing editor, including contact details, for each previously published submitted work. This can be in the form of a Word or PDF document.
  • 3 x story ideas of no more than 100 words for discussion during a selection interview if you are shortlisted. This can be in the form of a PDF document.
  • A 600-word written statement as to why you want this opportunity and what you can contribute to The Australian Women’s Weekly and its readers. This can be in the form of a Word or PDF document.

You can save your progress in the application form as you go along, and return to it if you need more time.

Who is eligible

Applicants for the Fellowship must be women* who live and work in regional Australia. Applicants should be early to mid-career journalists but there is no age limit.

Applicants from state capitals, with the exception of Darwin, are not eligible to apply.

Applicants must be available to travel to story locations chosen in consultation with the commissioning editor, to produce their 4 feature stories over the 12 months of the Fellowship.