The Next Chapter: Parramatta

There's growing concern across Australia, thanks to recent NAPLAN results, about the decline in children’s writing skills.  That's especially true for Western Sydney. 

NAPLAN results place students at many Western Sydney schools “below” or “substantially below” the Australian all-school average in all literacy categories. This means they're at significant risk of leaving school with lower literacy levels than their peers and dramatically limiting their future prospects.

For the sake of the next generation, we have to turn things around. Innovative arts-based literacy programs like ours are critically needed. That's why we need to open a second creative writing hub in Parramatta in May 2018.

After five years of running fun, free creative writing workshops from Redfern, that have changed the lives of many thousands of marginalised young people, our new creative writing centre will allow us to double our reach and impact within the next three years.

"Over the past four years we've seen how our innovative model can instil a love of writing that profoundly changes a young person's engagement with education and allows them to flourish in myriad ways. We know there are thousands more kids in Western Sydney who would love to write a poem, or a story, or a digital animation, and what a difference it could make to them. Opening a second centre in Western Sydney is a logical step. But we cannot do it without your help. Please join us. Together we can change the lives of thousands more young people." Cath Keenan, Co-founder and executive director

"Over the past four years we've seen how our innovative model can instil a love of writing that profoundly changes a young person's engagement with education and allows them to flourish in myriad ways.
We know there are thousands more kids in Western Sydney who would love to write a poem, or a story, or a digital animation, and what a difference it could make to them.
Opening a second centre in Western Sydney is a logical step. But we cannot do it without your help. Please join us. Together we can change the lives of thousands more young people."
Cath Keenan, Co-founder and executive director

Why Western Sydney?

Already 25% of the young people we work with are from Western Sydney. Western Sydney:

  • Is home to the largest single Indigenous community in Australia;
  • Has one of the fastest growing populations in the country, settling 60% of all new arrivals to Australia;
  • Has residents from more than 170 countries that speak over 100 languages;
  • Has young people with education and life outcomes still significantly behind their metropolitan peers.

Research demonstrates that quality arts programs can enhance creativity and significantly improve literacy rates and academic engagement. They also provide many other social and emotional benefits. But Western Sydney’s young people are far less likely to be offered access to quality arts education or literacy programs.

With our brand new creative writing centre we’re going to help fill that gap.

Community Driven

In Parramatta, we’ll replicate everything that’s worked so well in Redfern, but create a new centre that has its own unique culture, rooted in Western Sydney.

That means collaborating with schools, community groups, Aboriginal organisations, and other arts organisations to make sure we’re reaching the young people who most stand to benefit. It means consulting closely to co-design programs that will most effectively inspire and engage our students in meaningful ways. And it means drawing volunteers from local communities to tutor in our workshops.

"The work done by Sydney Story Factory with our students created a tremendous buzz and excitement. Although they enjoyed travelling to the city for a workshop, I cannot but think about how much benefit we could gain from a prominent presence in Western Sydney, where need is great." Shauna Pollard, Head Teacher English and Drama, Rooty Hill High School

"The work done by Sydney Story Factory with our students created a tremendous buzz and excitement.
Although they enjoyed travelling to the city for a workshop, I cannot but think about how much benefit we could gain from a prominent presence in Western Sydney, where need is great."
Shauna Pollard, Head Teacher English and Drama, Rooty Hill High School

In the build-up to opening our new centre we’re already engaged in an extensive community consultation process. In the build-up to opening our new centre we’re already engaged in an extensive community consultation process. Led by co-founder and executive director, Cath Keenan, and our new director for Parramatta, Nikola Amanovic, we're working hard to ensure the right connections are in place across Parramatta, and Western Sydney, well in advance of opening the doors. We’re also rolling out four Foundation Programs with Western Sydney primary and high schools - Unmapping, Creative Writing Residencies, Photo Faction and One For All - during 2017 and 2018.

Why Parramatta?

Parramatta is the key transport hub for Western Sydney. Train and other transport networks all converge on Parramatta so it’s easy to get to for both young people and volunteers taking part in our workshops. And from Parramatta it’s easy for our storytellers to travel out to schools and community centres across all of Western Sydney.

The final location for Sydney Story Factory Parramatta will be identified and confirmed later in 2017 - stay tuned!

What We’re Aiming to Achieve

From May 2018, Sydney Story Factory Parramatta will start rolling out workshops straight away. As in Redfern, we will run workshops during school hours for school groups, after school, on weekends, and during school holidays. Workshops may be one-offs, short series or run for eight weeks in parallel with the school term. They may be run at our new, purpose-built creative writing centre, or on-site at our partner schools or community groups.

"Writing and working with the Story Factory has given me an inspiration and interest in writing more stories, and working with more people." Braydon, aged 11

"Writing and working with the Story Factory has given me an inspiration and interest in writing more stories, and working with more people."
Braydon, aged 11

This is what we aim to deliver:

  • In 2018: 5,500 hours of creative writing and storytelling workshops for ~1,375 young people.
  • In 2019: 9,000 hours of creative writing and storytelling workshops for ~1,800 young people.
  • In 2020: 11,250 hours of creative writing and storytelling workshops to ~2,250 young people.

The majority of students will be from low socio-economic backgrounds. Approximately 25% will be Indigenous and at least 40% from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Programs on offer from Sydney Story Factory Parramatta will have the same aims and objectives as those we run from Redfern. Likewise, we’ll continuously monitor and evaluate programs to ensure we’re achieving optimal outcomes and impacts for all students.

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to make this dream a reality we need your help.

To  launch our exciting next chapter in Parramatta, we need your help. You can help us change the lives of thousands more at-risk young people every year. 

We need to raise $2,388,678 to open the doors and run our first full year of programs (through to June 2019).

We've now raised an amazing 80% of what we need! That's huge!

But we've still got a way to go. Here's how you can help bring us home:

  1. Make a donation - visit our donation page and make a gift right now. Please be sure to note that it's “For Western Sydney”. Every donation makes a difference!
  2. Fundraise with friends - host an Eat Your Words dinner for family and friends any time that suits you. Or hold a fundraising bakesale, a film night, or find your own way of making fundraising fun (Scrabble for Cheaters anyone?).
  3. Make an introduction - we’re looking for corporate, business and philanthropic partners who share our vision and want to make a difference in the lives of marginalised young people. Do you know someone we should talk to? Send an email to Jayne, our development manager: jayne@sydneystoryfactory.org.au

We’ll be sharing regular updates and news about Sydney Story Factory Parramatta throughout the year. Sign up to our newsletter, follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn and help spread the word.

Thank You!

A huge thank you to the generous people and organisations who have already committed to supporting Sydney Story Factory Parramatta.

  • Government Partners - This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; the NSW Government through the Parramatta Stronger Communities Fund, City of Parramatta.
  • Foundation Partners - Pantera Press; Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation; Wilson Foundation.
  • Foundation Program Partners - Crown Resorts Foundation & Packer Family Foundation; Balnaves Foundation; University of Sydney (Widening Participation & Outreach); The Ian Potter Foundation, Anonymous.
  • Major Partners - Nelson Meers Foundation; The MacKenzie Family; McLean Foundation; Catriona and Simon Mordant AM; Eureka Benevolent Foundation, UnLtd.
  • Supporting Partners - The Bennelong Foundation, James N Kirby Foundation, Anonymous.
  • Major Donors - Hausmann Communications, CAGES Foundation, Anonymous, Susan & Richard Henshall, Penguin Random House Australia, Julie Ireland, Richard Willis.
  • In-Kind & Fit-Out Partners - Gilbert & Tobin; Konica Minolta; LAVA: Laboratory for Visionary Architecture; Berents Project Management.