Express Media, a not-for-profit writing and media organisation for young artists, was established in 1985, the International Youth Year. On receiving a grant from the federal government, the organisation was dedicated to empowering young people to become the new voice in Australian media and to workshop writing, publishing and broadcasting in all forms.
In 1988 Express Media began publishing a newsletter, both to promote the organisation’s program of workshops and as a forum for youth and media issues. The newsletter was called Voiceworks and it was launched by then Prime Minister Bob Hawke and music journalist Ian “Molly” Meldrum. In the ‘90s, Voiceworks grew into a quarterly magazine, expanding its content to include poetry, short fiction, articles, opinion and illustration contributed by under 25s. Prominent alumni such as Benjamin Law, Liam Pieper, Anna Krien, Hannah Kent, Tom Doig, Lili Wilkinson, Justin Heazlewood and Van Badham have gone on to have a significant impact in the Australian literary, artistic and political landscapes. The magazine has remained in print form and has continued to develop into a well- respected and sophisticated literary journal. In 2015, Voiceworks celebrated its 100th issue.
In response to the need for development opportunities and professional pathways for arts and cultural critics, 1997 saw the launch of Express Media’s Buzzcuts program. In partnership with literary and arts festivals around the country, the program was developed in order to give young journalists experience working with an editor, publication opportunities and exposure to the world of professional arts reviewing and cultural criticism.
Following the success of Express Media’s Make It Up Zine Fair and in response to the burgeoning youth and emerging literary scene in Melbourne, in 2004 Express Media held a two-day series of panels, readings, performances and workshops featuring ‘the best Australian writers you haven’t heard of yet’. This event was the inaugural Emerging Writers’ Festival. While the festival found a strong audience and independence, the two organisations continue to have strong ties and Express Media alumni as well as young writers engaged in our programs feature heavily within the festival each year.
In 2005, John Marsden became, and remains, the principal patron of Express Media supporting an annual prize encouraging creative literary work by young people. The patronage of an immensely popular and internationally recognised author has been invaluable in assisting Express Media to encourage and develop the creative skills of young writers, by significantly extending the reach and impact of our programs.
Throughout the mid 2000s, Express Media continued to develop as the peak organisation for the creation, development and promotion of young Australian writers. Delivering a broad suite of programs, a key focus for the organisation was the provision of professional mentorships with established writers including Christos Tsialkos, Linda Jaivin, Adam Ford and Shalini Akhil. Successful mentees included Andrew Hutchinson, who received the 2006 Victoria Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript by an emerging writer and went on to publish his novel, Rohypnol, with Vintage in 2008.
In 2010, Express Media became a resident organisation of the Wheeler Centre, as part of Melbourne’s UNESCO designation as a City of Literature. Since that time, Express Media has nurtured countless innovative new projects and lead initiatives including the Write In Your Face Grants, The Young Writers Innovation Prize, The New Voices Poetry Series, The Under Age, The Signal Express, The Global Express and Dialect, Hologram, Tracks, Toolkits and many more.