25 March 2020

Farewell Rafael Ward, who has been with us for over ten years!


After over 10 wonderful years with us, Express Media and Voiceworks are saying a heartfelt goodbye to Rafael Ward, our current Schools Program Producer, past Edcommer and Voiceworks Contributor alum. Rafael has given tirelessly to all of the roles he undertook with us, helping greatly to form what both Voiceworks and Express Media are today!

As a part of our goodbye, we sat down with Raf to talk about his time with us, the evolution of VW and Express, and what he is wanting from the future.

You’ve spent such a long time with Voiceworks and Express Media in different roles, what was it like seeing the growth and development of the organisation and magazine?

Yeah it’s been over ten years, easily the longest I’ve been a part of any organisation! The majority of that time was spent as a member of the editorial committee, and one thing that I haven’t noticed change over that time is the willingness of young writers and editors to give their time to help others, and I think that’s wonderful. Otherwise I’ve noticed Express grow to become even more socially-conscious and embracing diversity.

What’s your favourite thing about working in the Wheeler Centre and Express Media office

For sure being around so many other writing orgs and being able to take advantage of the occasional book giveaways 😉 It’s also a lovely space with plenty of things happening all the time.

What are some of the things you learnt in your time being a part of the Voiceworks team?

For my writing I think I’ve learnt about how to make what I write accessible for different audiences. In my Schools Program Producer role I’ve had to work closely with students, teachers, parents, principals and they each have different requirements in terms of how you communicate.

It’s been a great experience for my own teaching too, as when I’ve been a tutor for Express I’ve been able to go to a huge range of different schools and see all the different styles and how students engage with writing.

I’ve had some great experience too managing events and writing competitions, which initially felt a bit overwhelming but always turned out well.

What were some of your highlights of your experience?

It was amazing when running the writing competitions how enthusiastic and courageous young writers are in terms of submitting their work. It was especially a joy to help facilitate awards ceremonies because you could tell how much it meant to them.

From a teaching perspective, I was particularly impressed with one day where we had myself and three other tutors running a full day of workshops at a school that required a fair bit of organisation on the part of everyone and it was still super smooth and an insightful day. 

You were an Edcommer before your were the Schools Programmer, what was that transition/journey like for you personally and professionally?

It was probably just a natural transition in that I was doing more teaching at that time and so it made sense to be in the Schools role. Certainly being a part of Edcomm gave me an enormous amount of skills in terms of critically reading and editing the work of young writers to be able to help them while maintain their voice and originality. 

What kind of writers and writing/art and artists are you most drawn to and why?

I spent a while as a younger writer with American short stories, but am now most drawn to anything contemporary that seems to help express the times we’re living in. 

What has been your favourite or most memorable Voiceworks piece or issue and why?

I think these two, from a long time ago but when I was in my peak Voiceworks-reading phase. To Ghengis Kahn, Oblivion and Holy Russia by James Halford (Voiceworks #66) and My Heart a Chest of Drawers by Zenobia Frost (Voiceworks #75). 

I also really enjoyed every piece I edited when on edcomm, and think that  Snow in Africa (Voiceworks #97 HABIT), is just one example of how much promise young writers have that they can then get their stories into fully-fledged books.

What is something you want to see more from Voiceworks and Express Media in the future?

I’m loving the digital direction and seeing what ways the editor and edcomm are coming up with to move writing onto online/experimental platforms- keep that up! 

We wish you all the best Rafael, in what comes next for you, and we thank you for giving so much to the young writers, artists and editors of Australia for over ten years!