Australian Children’s Literature Alliance


The Australian Children’s Literature Alliance (ACLA) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, founded in 2008 to champion and promote the transformational power of reading in the lives of young Australians. ACLA is a collegial and inclusive organisation with representation from across the field of children's and young adult literature.

In 2014 ACLA secured DGR status.

ACLA's vision is to: enrich the lives of young Australians through the power of story. 

ACLA’s mission is to:

•          Promote the value, importance and transformational nature of reading
•          Influence the reading habits of Australian families
•          Raise the profile of books in the lives of children and young adults
•          Champion the cause of young Australians reading.

One of ACLA’s primary activities is the development and management of the Australian Children’s Laureate program.

Australian Children’s Laureate Initiative

The establishment of an Australian Children’s Laureate to promote the importance of reading is based on the successful implementation of this idea in the UK and US.

The Children’s Laureate will be an Australian author and/or illustrator of children’s and/or youth literature who is making a significant contribution to the children’s literature canon of this country. The Laureate will be appointed on a biennial basis and will promote the transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians, while acting as a national and international ambassador for Australian children’s literature.

The inaugural Children’s Laureate role for 2012 to 2013 is shared by two eminent and much-loved children’s authors, Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor.

The second Children's Laureate role for 2014 to 2015 is held by Jackie French, best-selling author of over 140 books, including the iconic Diary of a Wombat (illustrated by Bruce Whatley) and Hitler’s Daughter. 

There are now also Children's Laureate programs in: Holland, Ireland, Sweden and Wales.

Partners & Friends of the Australian Children’s Laureate Initiative

ACLA would like to thank our funding partners, sponsors and friends for helping us make the Australian Children’s Laureate initiative a reality.

Funding has gratefully been received from the Federal Government via the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Publishers Association, the Australian Society of Authors, the Australian Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia, Bolinda Audio, CAGES Foundation, the Children’s Book Council of Australia, the Copyright Agency Ltd Cultural Fund, the Department for Education and Early Childhood Development (SA) and the State Library of Victoria.

In-kind support has been provided by the volunteer ACLA board members, the Australian Booksellers Association, the Australian Society of Authors, Books Illustrated, the Children’s Publishing Committee of the Australian Publishers’ Association, the Australian School Libraries Association, Carclew Youth Arts, the Micador Group and publishers Penguin and Allen and Unwin.

If you would like to support the Australian Children's Laureate Initiative by offering financial, in-kind or volunteer support, please contact ACLA via email on office.acla@gmail.com.

The Laureate Patron: Noni Hazlehurst

Meet the ACLA Board

ACLA Chair Andrew Wilkins is Director of children's publisher Wilkins Farago, the company he founded in 1998. He has 25 years experience in the book industry, both in Australia and internationally, and was previously Publisher of industry journal Bookseller+Publisher (now Books+Publishing) and co-owner of Hyland House Publishing. Melbourne-based, he is married to Anna and is father to two energetic boys, Felix and Owen. Andrew is also co-owner of Business Advantage International Pty Ltd, a publishing and communications agency.


Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright has operated justified text writing and publishing consultancy services since 1997 and has published widely on children’s and YA literature. She’s judged several awards including being inaugural chair of the judging panel for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (Children and YA) in 2010 and 2011.

She began her career as a children’s librarian, later co-established a small children’s publishing imprint, and was also inaugural Executive Director of the Queensland Writers Centre (1991-7), of which she is now a life member. She’s currently a board member of the Australian Society of Authors, a member of the IBBY (Australia) Inc Committee, and president of the Curtis Coast Literary Carnivale Committee. She was recipient of the 2011 CBCA (Qld) Dame Annabelle Rankin Award, and the 2012 CBCA Nan Chauncy Award for Distinguished Services to Children’s Literature in Australia. She looks forward as a member of the ACLA Board to assisting the Laureates in their important role of promoting the work of Australian creators generally.


Ann James was an art teacher who moved into designing and illustrating education publications before establishing herself as an award-winning illustrator of children’s books. Ann particularly loves illustrating picture books and texts for young children. She has collaborated with many authors and publishers to illustrate over 60 books, many of which have been translated into other languages including The Midnight Babies, Little Humpty, Lucy Goosey, The Way I Love You,  Sadie and Ratz, Chester and Gil and the Audrey series..

Ann, with partner Ann Haddon, established Books Illustrated in 1988. This gallery for book illustration now focuses on creating exhibitions promoting Australian picture books and their creators that travel throughout Australia and overseas - most recently in Italy, China and Korea. Together in 2000 they were awarded the Pixie O’Harris Award for Distinguished service to Australian Children’s Literature. In 2003 Ann received the Dromkeen Medal awarded annually to an Australian citizen for work that ‘makes a significant contribution to the appreciation and development of children’s literature.’

Since 1996 Ann has represented illustrators on the Australian Society of Authors Committee of Management. She is a founding Board member of the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance whose primary initiative is selecting and managing the Australian Children’s Laureate/s. She lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.


Jane Covernton was born in South Australia in 1951. She trained as a newspaper journalist but switched to publishing after taking up a position with Berkeley Publishers in London. From 1975 to 1980 she worked as a general and educational editor for Rigby Limited. In 1981 she left Rigby to set up the specialist children’s book publishing house, Omnibus Books, with co-founder Sue Williams.

In the years that followed, Sue and Jane published many Australian classics, including One Woolly Wombat, Possum Magic, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and I Went Walking. In 1991 they sold Omnibus Books to Scholastic Australia but continued to work with the company until 1997, when they left to set up a new children’s picture book company, Working Title Press. In 2001 Jane Covernton became the sole publisher/director of Working Title Press. She remains committed to developing the work of new authors and illustrators and showcasing the works of Australia’s finest creators to the rest of the world.


Laurine Croasdale has had a long career in publishing, working as an editor, packager and consultant in both Australia and the UK. She has written scripts for the television show Hi5 and had over 15 fiction and non-fiction books published for children. Her latest book, iHarry, was released by Penguin in 2011. Laurine also presents workshops to schools via video conference with Literature Live! and tutored at the Sydney Writer’s Centre and the NSW Writer’s Centre.



Ron Gorman, Deputy Director, AISWA,, Board Member – The Literature Centre, Board Member – Fogarty Learning Centre, Edith Cowan University, Convenor – Small Schools Collegiate Group. Ron Gorman is the Deputy Director of AISWA, a position he has held since 2008.  Ron was the organisation’s Senior Literacy Consultant and Projects Manager from 2000-2008. He is a former classroom teacher who taught in Victorian schools in the early 1980s, at Culunga Aboriginal School in Guildford WA in 1983, and at Lance Holt Primary School in Fremantle from 1984-1991. He was principal of Lance Holt from 1991-1999.

Meet the ACLA Team

Justine Alltimes has worked in the UK and Australian children's publishing industries for the past six years. After three years in London as an agent in boutique literary and illustration agencies, Justine moved to Melbourne where she has specialised in freelance marketing, story editing, events and project management. As Program Manager for the Children's Laureate, Justine manages the touring schedule for the Laureates, marketing and events and special projects in coordination with the Board.


Geri Barr has extensive experience in small business management. The past 12 years she has focused on working as a mentor and advisor to small business owners assisting in implementing management systems. Prior to this, Geri utilized her Fine Art Diploma to establish and lead a creative business, designing gift and homeware products. Geri is passionate about all children having the opportunity to learn to read and grow their enjoyment of reading books and illustration of stories. She is working alongside Justine to help to deliver the Children’s Laureate program in coordination with the ACLA board.