Writer and actor Megan Wilding has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award. The prestigious $25,000 prize is comprised of a $15,000 commission to write a new play and a $10,000 cash prize. Wilding’s new play will tell the story of an Indigenous woman who takes violent revenge against a man who sexually assaulted her as a child.

“Being chosen as the recipient of The Balnaves Award means the world to me”, said Wilding. “I’m so grateful to The Balnaves Foundation and to Belvoir for believing in me and giving me the platform and support to strengthen and explore my voice, just like it has done for all the phenomenal previous winners”.

“I entered The Balnaves Award because I had a story that I really wanted to write. The Award will give me the tools to fully invest in the process of writing. I’m so excited to jump all the way in with the support and guidance of Belvoir.”

“As a young Aboriginal woman who is a survivor of child molestation, I had this question in my head of ‘what would it be like if we told victims of paedophilia to get over what had happened to them in the past like White Australia tells Aboriginal people to forget what has happened to them?’ This is the question that inspired my idea and I’m ready to dig deeper into it”.

Wilding is a graduate of the acclaimed acting programme at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. She coordinates the Belvoir Writers Group for Women of Colour, and will appear onstage at Belvoir in The Rover this July.

Speaking on behalf of the judge’s panel, Belvoir’s Associate Director Anthea Williams said: “Megan Wilding is a fierce young theatre maker from Western Sydney who we’re thrilled to have back in NSW after four years in Perth at WAAPA…She is a force, a unique voice with excellent writing craft and a passion for telling contemporary stories. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with her thanks to The Balnaves Foundation”.

The Balnaves Award was established to provide a platform for Indigenous stories with the intention of cultivating understanding and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“One of the objectives of the Balnaves Award is to investigate stories of Indigenous experience”, said Hamish Balnaves. “As White Australians we have to accept that much of this will be confronting. It takes brave playwrights like Megan to shine a light on the distressing reality of Indigenous trauma. Megan’s play will make for uncomfortable viewing, but we must understand and acknowledge these Indigenous experiences to move closer to reconciliation”.