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Edition 34: Skin in the Game

Multiple pairs of hands clapping

Since 2013, Dr Tim Soutphommasane has been Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, building on a long and influential career as an academic and public thinker in the areas of multiculturalism, patriotism and national identity.

More recently, Dr Soutphommasane has called for those with power and influence to “step up” and demonstrate leadership on cultural diversity. One of the key initiatives in that journey was the establishment of the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity, a group of high profile individuals from business, government, universities and civil society, acting as advocates for diversity and inclusion.

But what has this leadership achieved? How far have we come? And how far do we have to go?

By his own admission, Dr Soutphommasane has acknowledged, “Those who do get cultural diversity do so because they usually have ‘skin in the game’ in some way. They have some personal connection to cultural diversity and difference.” 

But what does this “skin” look like? How thick is that skin? Can we stretch it? And what exactly is the game?

Skin is the largest organ of the human body: layered, porous, malleable, stretchable. We wear our scars upon it and it marks the line of delineation between our selves and the outside world. More importantly, conscious of  the colourism inherent in the definition of “the other”, how deeply does the phrase belie the requirement that those impacted by racism continue to bear the burden of arguing for change and for stewarding its process?

We are interested in hearing from those who believe they have “skin in the game”, what skin are you wearing and what game are you playing? We want to hear from your winners and grinners, as well as those losing out. If change will be led by those invested in its outcomes, then let us celebrate the work done by our pioneers, our champions and our heroes.

But also, let’s not forget the complicated nature of that skin, the way it is imposed on us, the way it is seen and unseen depending on who is looking. We are curious about stories that trouble the idea that it is the exterior that defines the interior – if you prick us, do we not bleed?

‘Skin in the Game’ is a three-month rolling edition, with contributions open now until Monday 30th of July. Please email contributions and pitches to

This edition is funded predominantly as a commissioned edition, with limited room for open calls. We are able to offer a baseline fee of $50 for short contributions (poems less than 25 lines; prose/non-fiction less 800-1000 words). We invite contributors to pitch in advance of submission as our open call budget is tight for this edition – we might not be able to pay a king’s ransom, but we respect your time and input and we won’t ask you to write something we can’t pay for. 

Please consider our contributions guidelines:

  • We accept contributions of art works, prose, poetry, non-fiction, essays, blog posts with a word limit of 1000 words (where applicable), a relationship to issues of Asian Australian interest, and a connection to the issue theme.
  • We consider previously unpublished, original work, however, simultaneous submissions are acceptable. We ask only that you notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.
  • We welcome submissions in creative and new media interpretations of “literature”, including video, audio and text format, graphic stories, sound or visual art, as long as it can be presented online and has a relationship to story.
  • You don’t have to be Asian-Australian to contribute, but your contribution should be of Asian-Australian interest. Check out our back editions to see what we publish.
  • Our editions are themed and you are welcome to include a short (100 -200 word) artist statement, which may outline the work’s relationship to that theme.

Please note we are currently only able to pay Australian contributors for themed editions due to our current funding arrangements. We look to pay our contributors equally, depending on the number of successful submissions. Our average payment rates are between $50-100.

To stay in touch around contribution dates, please connect with us on Facebook or Twitter so that we can let you know of any upcoming writing opportunities. We also welcome suggestions for edition themes or articles because we think you’ve got great ideas.