Sydney philanthropist Paula McLean donates $1 million to Stella Prize

Sydney philanthropist Paula McLean donates $1 million to Stella Prize


Paula McLean, a Sydney philanthropist and a previous Deputy Chair of the Stella prize, has donated $1 million to the Stella Forever Fund in one of the biggest donations of its kind.

The Stella Prize, established in 2013, is Australia’s largest annual book prize for female-identifying writers and has made an huge contribution to the careers of many writers since.

The prize is worth $50,000, and previous award winners include Alexis Wright, Charlotte Wood and Jess Hill.

“Leaving a legacy that amplifies and celebrates the stories of women in all its diversity,” McLean said. “Stories that offer a more complete national narrative will be an enduring gift to Australian women writers and new generations of readers.”

McLean’s $1 million donation is a part of the Stella Forever Fund’s goal to secure a total of $3 million in prize money by April 2022, when the next Stella award winner will be announced. 

“It’s been a special joy for me to champion the Stella Forever Fund,” McLean added. “I hope it will inspire others to join me in this 10th anniversary campaign.” 

Jaclyn Booton, Executive Director of the prize, said the impact of McLean’s generosity will be wide-reaching and long-lasting.

“We know how difficult it is to make a living as a writer in Australia,” she said. “Authors tell us that prize money can be life changing, literally buying women time to write. We are truly honoured and deeply grateful to Paula for her commitment to the future of the Stella Prize.”

The announcement of McLean’s donation is being heralded as a ‘matched funding’ initiative — every donation made up to $1 million will be matched by McLean, as a way to spark a greater circle of giving around the prize.

The Stella Fund is now calling for more individual donations to help raise the final $1 million.

Current donors to the prize include author Hannah Kent, ABC personality Jennifer Byrne, Annabel Crabb and Helen Garner. 

The Stella Foundation was set up in 2011 to highlight the voices of Australian female writers across the spectrum, including those identifying as cis, trans, and non-binary

It was a collaborative effort by a group of female writers and editors after they attended an International Woman’s Day event in Melbourne and realised a lack of representation of women writers.

Image: The Australian

Stay Smart! Get Savvy!

Get Women's Agenda in your inbox