Kate Challis RAKA Award

This award, worth up to $20,000, is for the best book of fiction published between 2016 – 2021 and written in English, by an Indigenous author.

Applications open

19 Apr 2021

Applications closed

14 Jun 2021

Application type

Application required
How to apply

Benefit type

Single payment
Full benefit details

Citizenship requirements

Australian / domestic student

Total value

up to $20,000

Applicable study areas

All study areas

Number of scholarships awarded


  • Alexis Wright
    "As an Aboriginal author, I understand the enormous importance and influence of the Kate Challis (RAKA) Award. I believe it is the most prestigious national and international benchmark for the promotion of excellence in Aboriginal art. This is the reason that I feel both extremely humble and proud that my work was chosen this year for literature, and to know that my work can stand beside those of our most talented and highly recognised artists."
    - Alexis Wright
  • Eligibility & selection criteria


    To be eligible for this scholarship, you need to:

    • be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
    • have published a book of fiction between 2016-2021

      The recipient is required to:

    • Accept the award online within 14 days
    • Attend the award announcement: the details of which will be provided to the recipient closer to the award announcement which is expected around September.

    Selection criteria

    This award is for the best book of fiction already published between 2016-2021 and written in English, by an Indigenous author.

  • Application process

    Complete an application online, include your resume (up to 2 pages), and submit
    your book.

    • Post five copies of your book  to:

    Awards Team | Faculty of Arts
    Level 1, West Wing, Arts West Building (#148)
    The University of Melbourne

  • When will I know the outcome?

    The outcome will be announced at a ceremony which is usually held in September each year. The details of the event will be announced closer to the award ceremony.

  • Variations of this scholarship

    The award is awarded in a five-year cycle with a different area of the arts – creative prose, drama, the visual arts, script-writing and poetry – being rewarded each year. Area of creative arts for 2021 is: the best book of creative prose already published between 2016 – 2021 and written in English.

  • About the donor

    Professor Emeritius Bernard Smith

    This award for Indigenous creative artists has been made available through the generosity of Professor Emeritus Bernard Smith, eminent art and cultural historian. The award was established to honour the memory of his late wife, Kate Challis, who was known in her youth as Ruth Adeney (RAKA is an acronym for the Ruth Adeney Koori Award).

    In the Pintupi language, 'raka' means 'five' and in the Warlpiri 'rdaka' means 'hand', and both meanings are particularly apt for an award to be awarded in a cycle of five years to individual artists – novelists, poets, script writers, visual artists and playwrights – whose 'hands' are the basic means of creativity.

What are the benefits?

A single payment of up to $20,000



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For complete listings of faculty-specific scholarships, please see individual faculty websites.

The information listed here is subject to change without notice. Where we have listed information about jointly run scholarships programs, please also see our partners' websites. Information describing the number and value of scholarships awarded is indicative.