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The Australasian Writers and Art Directors Association (AWARD) has announced this year’s AWARD School student finalists in Victoria and Western Australia - who will go into the running to win the coveted 2021 National Top Student Award on August 10.

Matthew Chen from Victoria and Jordan Ellis from Western Australia took out the top gong in their respective states for their incredible body of creative work developed throughout the year.

They each received a coveted AWARD School Gold Pencil for their outstanding efforts as part of in-person graduation events held last night in Melbourne and Perth to celebrate the industry’s brightest emerging talent.

This year’s state winners were drawn from a national intake of 208 students which included four on Indigenous scholarships. The hugely successful online program also saw participants take part from regional Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

In going into the running to be named AWARD School’s National Top Student, the two students will have their works reviewed by an international super jury. The New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian top students will be announced next Tuesday, 10 August alongside the overall winner - the National Top Student for 2021.

VIC and WA state winners and finalists:

State Top Student  Tutors

Matthew Chen

Rohan Lancaster, Carlo Mazzarella (Clemenger BBDO Melbourne)

Murray Bransgrove, Joan Lim, Gareth Sweet (Noisy Beast Melbourne)
WA Jordan Ellis Lachy Banton, Niall Stephen (The Brand Agency Perth)

Matt Wilson, Luke Williams (Wunderman Thompson Perth)

Chair of AWARD and M&C Saatchi Australia Chief Creative Officer Cam Blackley congratulated the two state winners and praised all the 2021 graduates for their hard work and commitment throughout yet another challenging year in AWARD School’s 38 year history. 

“Every year we are seeing depth and quality of creative talent consistently improving and I couldn’t be prouder of the work these students produced to take home the top honours in their respective states,” he said.

“We congratulate them and wish them the best in their creative careers, which are sure to be bright. We also thank our incredible AWARD School heads, tutors and guest speakers for making this yet another high calibre and inspirational year for our students.”

National and NSW AWARD School Co-heads Mandie van der Merwe and Jack Nunn said the commitment shown by their fellow school heads and tutors in each state this year had been "beyond amazing", as had the engagement from students around the country.

“Students and tutors alike rose brilliantly to the challenge of making 2021 AWARD School one of the best yet,” Mandie said. 

Jack added: “Following a change in AWARD School program last year to online only, we were thrilled to reintroduce face-to-face learning sessions, tutoring and networking events this year, with large numbers of students from across the country still able to join our program virtually.

“That’s the beauty of AWARD School, there are so many learning options available to students to best suit where they live and how they want to learn and interact with our incredible lineup of speakers, tutors and judges, whose combined efforts make AWARD School not just possible but hugely successful,” he said.


**The 2021 Award School finalists in NSW, QLD and SA will be announced at 6:30pm AEST next Tuesday, 10 August via Facebook Live:, alongside the highly anticipated announcement of the national AWARD School winner.

2021 AWARD School State Top Students - VIC & WA


Top Students
1. Matthew Chen - Gold Pencil
2. Aimee Carruthers
3. Lukas Meintjes

Top 10 (in alphabetical order)
Alyce McNeil
Brandon Nee
Kathryn Lees
Madeleine Semit
Olivia Daniele
Stephen Hanna
Torika Taylor

Ben Hall
Sarah Julian

Brief 9 winner
Kathryn Lees

Brief 10 winner
Matthew Chen

Tutor Agency of the Year
Clemenger BBDO Melbourne
Noisy Beast Melbourne


Top Students
1. Jordan Ellis - Gold Pencil
2. Grady O'Connell
3. Jack Robertson

Jordan Ellis
Grady O'Connell
Jack Robertson

Brief 9 winner
Meg Watson

Brief 10 winner
Jordan Ellis