The 2013 regional gathering was held in the Cardinia Cultural Centre in Pakenham, Victoria, near Melbourne, on Saturday 4 May, from 2.00 to 5.00 pm. 

Corinne King, Assistant Regional Advisor (Vic, SA, Tas), spoke briefly about current SCBWI issues. 

The first speaker was David Linke, Council Secretary and Marketing Coordinator of YABBA (Young Australians Best Book Awards), who explained YABBA's role and how children's authors and illustrators can be involved.

YABBA are children's choice awards made by popular vote of children, giving voice to their preferences. This distinguishes them from the CBCA Awards (Children's Book Council of Australia) which are literary choices made by adults. 

David's power-point presentation illustrated the function of YABBA: to motivate children to 'Recommend, Read, Rate and Reward Australian Books'. The Committee's work is voluntary. Until his recent death, YABBA was led for 23 years, with great vigour and humour, by the inspirational Graham Davey.

The procedure each year is as follows:

  Term 1: children recommend books for the shortlist;

  Terms 2 and 3: children read the books on the shortlist;

  Term 4: children rate the books (in their own minds) and reward their favourite book by voting. 

Children attend the awards ceremony. This year it will be held on 6 November at Haileybury, South Road, Brighton. Authors and illustrators are also welcome to attend. For further details:

Awards in other states: KOALA (NSW) – Kids Own Australian Literature Awards; COOL (ACT) – Canberra's Own Outstanding List; BILBY (QLD) – Books I Love Best Yearly; CYBER (TAS) – Children's Yearly Best-ever Reads; WAYRBA (WA) - West Australian Young Readers' Book Award; KROC (NT) – Kids Reading Oz Choice.

At 4.00 p.m. the Guest Speaker was well known and much-loved children's author/illustrator Alison Lester, who spoke about the events in which she has been involved during her role as current Australian Children's Laureate with Boori Monty Pryor. She has travelled in every state and territory in Australia, many locations being remote, and has enjoyed the opportunity to meet and work with Indigenous Australians.

Alison's power-point presentation revealed the extent of her travels in Australia and overseas - to Ireland, China and many other places - for speaking engagements and workshops galore. She greatly appreciated the opportunity to participate in the Bologna Book Fair. 

A devotee of workshopping in classrooms, Alison is delighted when she inspires the children to paint and then, by means of questioning and discussion, is able to encourage their language and imagination further, giving them and their class both satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

She also shared some background on her award-winning work and spoke in detail about some of the books which have enthused children, for example, Are We There Yet? and One Small Island. The highlight was her fascination with the Antarctic (five visits), children's participation with ideas, and her book, Sophie Scott Goes South.

Alison's Special Project is titled This is My Place. She says, 'Every child has a story to tell. I'm looking forward to continuing my work with kids and helping them to turn their stories into books.' She is working on a book which features children from all over Australia describing their lives, hopes and dreams in writing, painting, drawings and photographs. HTTP://THISISMYPLACEPROJECT.WIKISPACES.COM/

The Australian Children's Laureates are funded by the Australian Children's Literature Alliance: Contact:

All who attended enjoyed an inspiring afternoon.

Edel Wignell