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overland’s new residency a paradigm shifter

Image credit: Abhi Sharma

Image credit: Abhi Sharma

Internships have become a hot topic with the Coalition’s recent announcement of their plan to establish an $840 million PaTH interns program, deemed to be a centrepiece of Malcolm Turnbull’s re-election platform. It proposes to pay jobseekers under the age of 25 a $200 per fortnight top-up above the dole. Moreover, Mamamia’s current internship scandal has brought the subject further to the fore, with unpaid work at the media network being auctioned for ten thousand dollars.

But it’s not all bad news. This month, Overland literary journal created an inaugural Writers Residency to provide an opportunity for female writers working on a ‘book-length project’, who is the sole primary carer of one or more children. Overland claims that this single mother’s residency is in line with their ‘aims to support and showcase diverse and underrepresented voices’.

Supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, the distinctive three-month residency hopes to address various struggles that hinder the writing practice of women who are sole parents, providing a weekly stipend and a private workspace at the Overland office in Footscray, Victoria.

‘We know that a number of women writers who are primary carers have been hit hard by the financial uncertainty surrounding writing – this material and financial lack contributes to a sense of artistic isolation and, eventually, fatigue,’ said Overland Editor, Jacinda Woodhead. ‘This is an issue particularly dear to me – growing up, it was just me and my mother, and I want Overland to be the kind of organisation that can offer extra support to women writers when they need it most.’

Along with the residency, the successful applicant will also be provided a mentorship with fantasy novelist, poet, opera librettist, literary critic and Overland contributor, Alison Croggon. A meeting between the resident and Ms Croggon will occur fortnightly, centering around detailed advice at the commencement of the residency as they make further development on a book-length project. Croggon has had a long-time passion for representing the voices and experiences of single mothers. ‘I know from my own experience, sole parents face particular difficulties in their practice,’ she said. ‘I fully support Overland’s initiatives to open opportunities for marginalised writers.’

It’s gratifying to see such a trend in the world of media – a profession known to be inhabited by the likes of a privileged few who can afford to buy their way into their positions and maintain them henceforth, with dispensations often only provided to conventional depictions of what it means to be Australian. In an industry that truly lacks the representation of marginalised voices, Overland is making a bold stand, especially during a difficult time for jobseekers and prospective interns.

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