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Story writing and art competition

The Story Writing and Art Competition (SWAC) is an annual art/painting, craft, photography, story writing and poetry event run specifically for members of Victoria's ex-service community.

About the SWAC

The SWAC is a joint initiative of Victorian ex-service organisations, DVA and the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. SWAC also receives generous sponsorship from the corporate and community sectors.

The competition began in 1962 at the Repatriation General Hospital as therapy for returned soldiers. It continues to enhance participants' health and wellbeing by providing the opportunity to develop new skills, interests and social support.

SWAC provides entrants with an opportunity to have their works publicly acknowledged and, where appropriate, recorded for posterity. Stories submitted under the "True Wartime Experience" category are retained in the private records collection of the Australian War Memorial.

Entry eligibility

The following members of the ex-service community residing in Victoria are eligible to enter the competition:

  1. current and ex-service personnel of the Australian Defence Forces
  2. ex-service personnel of countries that were allied to Australia during past wars or war-like conflicts
  3. veterans of Australian Peacekeeping or Peacemaking Missions.
  4. all spouses, widows and widowers, children and grandchildren of the above, aged 18 and over
  5. children who are DVA beneficiaries and are aged of 18 and over (this includes Veterans' Children Education Scheme recipients)
  6. the work of a deceased member of the ex-service community may be entered by family or a friend (acknowledging the name of the original artist/author).

See the following section, Competition rules and categories, to find out more about the conditions of entry.

Competition rules and categories

Entries, in the following categories, are invited from eligible members of the ex-service community:

  • writing
  • art
  • craft
  • photography.


Additional rules of entry apply for each of the above categories. For detailed information on the competition rules and categories, please refer to the Conditions of entry.

Prizes and special awards

The SWAC prizes are chosen by judges each year.

  • 1st Prize: $250.00 and Certificate
  • 2nd Prize: $125.00 and Certificate
  • 3rd Prize: $100.00 and Certificate
  • Honourable Mentions: Certificate


Special awards can be found in the Conditions of entry.

Publication of winning entries

Major prize and special award winning entries are published in BRAVO! Recollections and Reflections of the Veteran Community. All entrants receive a free copy of the book.

Hard copies are available for purchase from the SWAC Coordinator.

How is the SWAC administered?

The SWAC patron

Victorian State President of the Returned & Services League of Australia, Dr Robert Webster OAM, is the SWAC patron. Dr Webster supports and promotes SWAC and officiates at the annual exhibition launch and prize presentation ceremony.

The SWAC steering committee

The SWAC steering committee co-ordinates the competition. Committee members attend meetings and liaise with their particular organisations, to promote SWAC throughout the ex-service and wider community.

The current committee members are:

  • Sue-Ann Harrison, Department of Veterans' Affairs (Chairperson)
  • Marie Ben, Austin Health
  • Amat (Aff) Binnoore, Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (Victoria)
  • Irene Capicchiano, Melbourne Legacy 
  • Michael Fidler, Returned & Services League (Victoria)
  • Jeff Freeman, Totally & Permanently Incapacitated Soldiers Association (Victoria)
  • Ray Gill, Naval Association of Australia — Box Hill Branch (Victoria)
  • Suzanne Hall, War Widows Guild of Australia (Victoria)
  • Siobhan Hodgins, Austin Health (SWAC Coordinator)
  • Mark Johnston, The Defence Welfare Association (Victoria)
  • Judith Pinkerton-Treloar, Australian Women's Army Service
  • Carl Schiller, RAAF Association
  • Bill Smith, RAR Association 
  • Gordon Traill, Veterans of the Geelong District
  • Nev Walley, Australian Peacekeepers & Peacemakers Veterans' Assoc
  • Robert Winther, Austin Health.

You can also view the list of SWAC sponsors in the following section.

SWAC sponsors

Thank you to the following sponsors for their support:

  • Austin Health
  • Australian Defence Force Journal
  • Australian Federation of TPI Ex-Servicemen & Women (Victoria)
  • Australian Legion of Ex-Servicemen and Women (Victoria)
  • Australian Women's Army Service Association (Victoria)
  • Carry On (Victoria)
  • Chocolatier Australia
  • Defence Force Welfare Association (Victoria Branch)
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs
  • Former Association of EDA Services
  • Geelong TPI Welfare & Social Club
  • Magic 1278
  • Melbourne Legacy
  • Mulwala & District Services Club Ltd
  • Naval Association of Australia (Box Hill & District Sub Section)
  • Partners of Veterans Association of Australia (Victoria Branch)
  • Rehabilitation Work Group (Austin Health)
  • Returned & Services League of Australia (Victorian Branch) Inc
  • Royal Australian Air Force Association (Victorian Division)
  • The Royal Australian Regiment Association (Victoria)
  • Vasey RSL Care Ltd
  • Vietnam Veterans' Association of Australia (Victoria)
  • War Widows' Guild of Australia (Victoria)
  • War Widows' & Widowed Mothers' Association (Victoria)
  • Watsonia RSL Sub-Branch

SWAC entry forms

Current year SWAC results


The views expressed by the contributors to this publication are not necessarily those of the organisers of the competition.

SWAC enquiries

SWAC coordinator

Siobhan Hodgins
Phone: (03) 9496 2290 or 1800 134 864 (Country)

Post to:
Story Writing and Art Competition
PO Box 5444
Heidelberg West 3081

Average: 3.7 (12 votes)