Shared Stories 2016 book launch

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Shared Stories cover art Girl on the Border painting by Eliza Maginness, Francesca Ohlert addresses the audience at the launch of Shared Stories, Dr Matthew Ryan with the winner of the ACU Award for Writing Gareth Cassidy, Group photo of contributors to Shared Stories2 December 2016

The striking artwork – Girl on the Border – on the cover of this year’s edition of Shared Stories is by Eliza Maginness, Year 11, Star of the Sea College, Gardenvale. Eliza described her inspiration, ‘I read about this girl in a media article. She lives near the border of India and Pakistan. Her photo was so breathtaking that I decided to draw her. I also drew the actual map of the border over her face as it connects her with where she lives and her everyday experiences.’

Eliza’s artwork is one of thousands of creative works by primary and secondary students from Catholic schools across Victoria featured in the annual anthology which was launched 25 November 2016 at Star of the Sea. The audience of 850 people were impressed with the student musicians, comperes, poets and prayer readers at the launch who showcased the depth of talent of young people today.

Shared Stories was launched by Dr Matthew Ryan, Deputy Head of the Victorian School of Arts in the Australian Catholic University, and Ms Francesca Ohlert, who was a contributor to the 2010 anthology. Ms Ohlert described her experience as a contributor, ‘I think I was equal parts scared and excited when I first held my copy of the 2010 anthology with my name and my thoughts printed inside. I walked all the way home, holding it in my sweaty little palms. Thinking for the first time that maybe, maybe I could be a writer? Hopefully, that’s something many of you in the audience are considering.’

The three main awards of the night were won by the following student contributors:

Australian Catholic University Award for Writing 

  • Gareth Cassidy, Year 10, Mazenod College, Mulgrave

Catholic Super Award for outstanding contribution to Shared Stories 

  • Minh-Hoa Nguyen, Year 9, Catholic Regional College, North Keilor

CCI Personal Insurance Award for Artwork 

  • Tyra Haygarth, Year 10, Catholic Regional College, Melton

This year the Shared Stories launch celebrated over a decade of expression by talented young people and the theme for the 2016 edition of Shared Stories was ‘Connection + Renewal’, which covered a range of interesting and challenging issues that are important to young people.

While the first edition was just 72 pages, this edition has assembled student works that fill 572 colour pages. In 2016, 22 schools were involved in Shared Stories and published the work of over 1,000 students from Foundation to VCE.

Print and logistical management of the anthology was provided once again by Mercedes Waratah, which also generously donated prizes for the November launch.

The digital version of Shared Stories is available at