On Sundays, the Sydney Story Factory runs the Free Writers Guild. Students aged 8 to 18 regularly come in for between 2 and 5 hours to work on writing projects of all kinds. We asked the students to tell us what the Sydney Story Factory means to them. Phred, a student in year 8, at Australian Performing Arts and Grammar School, helped edit their responses.



Anastasia is in Year 7 at Newtown High School and comes to the Sydney Story Factory regularly on Sundays. One of the classes she was in used prompts and a timer to get a story going.


As the timer was flipped, the delicate, miniscule grains of sand slipped through the centre of the hourglass shape, falling, falling, falling. Taking time away, slowly deleting the seconds as they fell, erasing the minutes as they cascaded down, ripping apart the hours as they hit the bottom, rolling around then stopping, until the glass was flipped again.


The lead of my pencil scraped across the paper, imprinting it with words for life. The words flowed quick and smooth, the tip of my tongue stuck out of the side of my mouth, only to be bitten by my teeth. My eyes followed my pencil with every curve, every line and every dot. Weaving through my brain were electric bolts, filled with adjectives and ideas, nouns and story lines and as I continued to write the bolts multiplied and grew bigger, ever bigger.


As the last grain of delicate sand fell through the glass, my pencil stopped scribbling, my tongue crept back into my mouth and my eyes slowed to a halt. I straightened my back, interlaced my fingers and stretched them out in front of me, arching my back.


My tutor Megan handed me a story card and I burst out laughing.


“How am I going to fit this into my story?!” I yelled out.


“My story is suspenseful, scary and woeful, how can I add a ticket seller in?!”


“Well...” she said…..


You know when one sentence changes everything? The story of someone’s life?


Well for that poor ticket seller, this was that sentence. Nothing would be normal again; nothing would ever be the same. My story had changed because of one sentence, two determined people and one amazing tutor.




Yosra is in Year 5 at Randwick Public School, and speaks Italian and English at home. At the front of the Sydney Story Factory is a shop – The Martian Embassy and Gift Shop – which gives the centre an interesting street front and sales of Martian products help fund the writing programs.


I entered the Martian Embassy on a Sunday afternoon and was surprised by how different it was. A tall, multiple-eyed extra terrestrial welcomed me into the building.


I paused for a moment, and then realised that the theme was not commensurate with the tutoring centre I thought I was going to. It was like I walked straight into a portal that lead me to a dimension that flourished with novels and publications by children who have paid a visit before me.


My imagination sparked an idea to create a story, yet I required help. I was really timid to ask for a tutor, but then a figure appeared before me; his name was Miles. With an instructor to assist me, I felt more comfortable. Miles was super friendly, funny and welcoming which goes to show the top-notch service the Sydney Story Factory provides for its students.


A year later, I am still attending the Sydney Story Factory and giving up my Sundays to improve my writing abilities. I’ve worked with many other tutors and all have interesting personalities and intellect. They never make you write something you do not wish to write about. Being able to express your perspective is one of the main benefits at the Sydney Story Factory, whether it’s about the cons of animal cruelty or the pros of saving the environment. We all have the ability to write our feelings about a topic without the fear of judgement. It’s quite an ethical atmosphere, to be honest. There is no right, nor wrong. Everybody respects each other.


The Martian Embassy not only has enhanced my writing proficiency, but has also increased my self-confidence, since we always read our stories aloud to each other. It has made me want to express myself whenever there is something I feel strongly about.”


Kun Ho

Kun Ho is in Year 7 at Tempe High School, and has been coming regularly to the Sydney Story Factory since the beginning of 2013.


Imagine a place where you can read thousands of books, a place where you can write in freedom, to escape the world of gaming. It is the Sydney Story Factory.


As I rode the train with my mother to the Martian Embassy for the first time, many thoughts shot through my mind. What if my creative writing was too weak and they didn’t accept me? What if the tutors and kids don’t like me? As I took my first step inside, I was in a green organ; it had many books and tutors. Helen greeted me and my mother. I sat down on a wooden stool and they gave me a blue pen with some paper. A tutor came to my aid and asked what I had recently done. I wrote about the day before and ‘the storm’s fury’ which kept me from playing tennis. I really was surprised that I could write a story so well. I enjoyed my first lesson and kept attending the Factory.


I have written many different narratives, but my favourite is ‘Bill the Paleoclimatologist’. It was the longest story I ever wrote and the best. It consisted of many adjectives, verbs, similes and many other language features. ‘Bill the Paleoclimatologist’ is written by many souls. Yes, I wrote most of it but I couldn’t have done it without my kind, helpful tutors. My tutors gave up their Sunday mornings to come and teach. Especially Helen, she’s always here organising everything, putting things in folders, typing things up.


I can’t believe I am part of the Sydney Story factory. It is a pleasure to be here!



Yarrie is from Sierra Leone and lived in Guinea before she arrived in Australia in 2004. She started coming to the Sydney Story Factory when she was a student at Tempe High School, and has written poems and prize-winning short stories.


l’m so blessed to have Sydney Story Factory in my life.

It is a very special magical place I feel in my heart.

I really love this place.

Whenever I am there I feel reborn again.


Everything since is well with me.

I have no worry, sadness or pain.

My soul is full of joy.


Helen, Lesley and the other volunteers make it a very special outstanding place.

I feel so lucky to have help from inspirational people.

It has a great impact on my life and has changed me a lot, encouraging me to write.

Having this workshop at Redfern is a great idea, it gives real meaning to multiculturalism; the door is open to everyone to come and feel at home.


This place I will forever remember.




The Sydney Story Factory is a not-for-profit creative writing centre for young people. It nurtures young people’s creativity and well-being through sustained personal attention to their writing. Trained volunteer tutors work with students one-on-one or in small groups to help them produce stories of all kinds, which we publish in as many ways as possible. Programs target marginalised young people, particularly those from Indigenous or non-English speaking backgrounds, but are open to everyone. All programs are free.


Organisation Details
176 Redfern Street, Redfern NSW 2016
Contact details: 

+61 2 9699 6970