Meet the winners of the Mona Brand Award 2024

  • Past Event
On Site

Be among the first to hear from the winners of the 2024 Mona Brand Award for women stage and screenwriters.

Event Information

Past Event
General admission:  
Gallery Room, Ground Floor, Mitchell Building

1 Shakespeare Place
Sydney NSW 2000
+61 2 9273 1414

Image of panel speakers


Join us to celebrate and hear from the newly announced winners of the 2024 Mona Brand Award for women stage and screenwriters, Belinda Chayko and Hannah Carroll Chapman, in conversation with The Sydney Morning Herald 's Melanie Kembrey in a special celebration of Australian women’s screenwriting.

Described by the judges as “the hidden gem” of Australian screenwriting, Belinda Chayko has earned the country’s coveted (and only) prize for women stage and screen writers, the Mona Brand Award worth $30,000.

According to the judges, “Chayko’s writing seamlessly merges the political and the personal. She tells gripping stories that explore morally complex ideas and characters. Who is right or wrong is never as important as truthful explorations of how people behave under pressure, and what their decisions say about them. And nothing is more important than their humanity.”

The $10,000 Early Career Writer Award has been given to Hannah Carroll Chapman for her reboot of the Australian Heartbreak High series (2022), described by the judges as “a funny and heartfelt exploration of diverse stories surrounding teenage drama, sexuality and body positivity … [that] sets the standard for how young people can be better represented in Australian television”.

The Mona Brand Award is offered biennially thanks to the generous bequest to the NSW State Library Foundation from the trailblazing Australian playwright Mona Brand (who also wrote under the name Alexis Fox).


Light refreshments will be provided.

Melanie Kembrey (host) has been a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald for more than a decade and is currently editor of arts and culture publication Spectrum. She is also co-host of the pop culture podcast The Drop.

Belinda Chayko is an award-winning writer and director. She was the co-creator and showrunner on Fires (ABC), which won the AACTA for Best Miniseries or Telefeature and a Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Miniseries or Telemovie. Belinda was co-creator and showrunner on Safe Harbour (SBS), winner of the 2019 International Emmy for Best Television Series and an AACTA for Best Screenplay. The series was remade in Germany. Her recent writing credits for television include Prosper (Stan), as well as Stateless (ABC) and Fighting Season (Foxtel), both of which she received AWGIE Award nominations for. Belinda co-wrote two seasons of the political drama Secret City (Foxtel), and the miniseries Barracuda (ABC), which won an AWGIE Award in 2017. She wrote the telemovie Saved (SBS), which also won an AWGIE Award. Belinda’s feature film Lou, which she wrote and directed, starred John Hurt and screened in competition at a number of international festivals, including Busan and Rome. Her debut feature, City Loop, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2000.

Hannah Carroll Chapman is an award-winning screenwriter and the creator of the hit Netflix series Heartbreak High. Spending over a month after its release in the Global Top Ten Series on Netflix, Heartbreak High won an International Emmy Award, as well as the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Audience Choice Award for Best Television Series, and was nominated for the AACTA Best Drama Series Award. For her pilot episode, Hannah took home the AACTA Award for Best Screenplay and garnered an Australian Writers Guild (AWGIE) Award nomination. Likewise, for her final episode, Hannah achieved a NSW Premier’s Literary Award nomination for Best Screenplay. Her writing on the ABC television drama The Heights also earned Hannah both an AWGIE and a Screen Producers Award nomination. As a writer and story producer, she worked on the iconic Australian series Home and Away. Prior to screenwriting, Hannah contributed to shows such as Downton Abbey, Whitechapel and The Borrowers as a production operator for London-based production company Carnival Films, and to a number of series produced by Matchbox Pictures, notably The Slap, Nowhere Boys and Glitch, as a member of their development team. She has several projects currently in development.