The Overland NUW Fair Australia Prize shortlist

What does a fair Australia look like, and how do we get there? The Fair Australia Prize asked writers and artists to engage with these questions and imagine a new political agenda for Australia through fiction, essays, poetry and illustrations.

Overland and the National Union of Workers are pleased to announce that the following writers and artists have been shortlisted for the Fair Australia Prize. (Note, winners will be announced in late July.)

Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and artists!

Essay Prize Shortlist

Byers‘Government is not the enemy of fairness’

 A fair Australia relies on a well-resourced government – and if the left loses hope in the promise of the state, we will never be able to reach the good society we hope for.

 Dr Susie Byers worked for the Australian government aid program for several years and now works in the trade union movement. She has a PhD in the history of environmental politics and tweets as @Susie_Byers.


Copland‘A guaranteed minimum income’

Creating a fairer Australia requires a complete overhaul of how we work and think of ourselves as economic citizens – a guaranteed minimum income is a first important step in achieving these goals. 

Simon Copland is a freelance writer specialising in politics, sex, and culture. He is a committed unionist and environmental campaigner. In his spare time he is a rugby union fan and David Bowie fanatic. He blogs at, Facebooks and tweets as @SimonCopland.


Dall‘Lessons in class and casualisation’

‘Lessons in class and casualisation’ argues that universities, far from being ‘communities of scholars’, are degree and research factories using increased casual labour to undermine workers’ rights – nevertheless, casuals have more industrial power than is often assumed. 

Erima Dall graduated in political economy with a Sydney University medal and a very casual tutoring job, so she joined the NTEU. A recent recipient of a scholarship from the Journal of Australian Political Economy, Erima is also a socialist, a refugee activist, and a member of Solidarity.


TDymond‘The basic income republic’

An argument for a guaranteed minimum income for all as a citizen right, and the path to liberty beyond freedom of contract.

Tim Dymond is the research officer at Unions WA. In this role, Tim writes inquiry submissions, manages and analyses data, and prepares the state wage case. He has previously worked as a research officer, field organiser, educator and workers compensation assistant for various unions. His views are his own.


Lawrence‘Critical acts of resistance: On the lives we grieve and the lives we don’t’

By considering the lives we grieve and the lives we don’t, we as individuals and a society can perform ‘critical acts of resistance’ that speak to violence and domination; acknowledge our shared vulnerability and interdependence with others; and guide us to respond more fairly, inclusively, ethically and responsibly in the world today.

Annee Lawrence graduated with a PhD from UWS in 2015 where her thesis included a cross-cultural novel set in Indonesia and Australia. She works as a tutor in Humanities and Communication Arts at UWS and has previously worked as a writer and editor, largely in relation to social justice issues.


Wright‘The most fucking intense, crazy, rock ‘n’ roll thing you could be writing about’

My essay looks to make a lot of make a lot of noise about the absence of women’s voices and experience in the way that men politically speak about the world.

Stephen Wright lives in Nimbin on a landsharing community. He has won some things (2009 Eureka St Prize, 2013 Nature Conservancy Prize) been shortlisted for others (2012 Creative NonFiction prize, 2014 Calibre Prize, 2015 Gavin Mooney Prize) and was once runner up for a poetry prize he’s forgotten the name of. He is writer-in-residence for the 2015 Mesmerism new music festivals.


Fiction Prize Shortlist


Based in Bangalow, Stevi-Lee Alver is a student, a nurse and a surfer. In 2014, she was one of three winners of the Questions Writing Prize and while studying abroad at the University of Massachusetts, received the Class of 1940 Creative Writing Award for poetry. Her work has recently appeared in Rochford Street Review, Writing to the Edge, Jabberwocky and Northerly.


SJCollins‘Zero Hours’

2048: Citizen Level Three Elizabeth Deacon meets Wallace, another Three with a plan to revolutionise the work model.

Sarah-Jane Collins is a Sydney-based journalist. She has worked at The Age, The Global Mail, The Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC, reporting on politics, courts, the arts, the environment, education and science. She writes fiction in her spare time, for now.


Laura Elvery‘This will all be recorded’

A young mother practises for a job interview amid a hectic life of studying and sleeplessness.

Laura Elvery is a PhD candidate and tutor at QUT. Laura has won the Josephine Ulrick Literature Award, and twice been shortlisted for the Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize for New and Emerging Writers. She is working on her fiction manuscript.


TroyHendersonpic‘100 Days’

The world’s least likely revolution takes place in the world’s most boring city: our correspondent is on the ground to make sure you don’t miss a beat.

Troy Henderson is a PhD candidate in political economy at the University of Sydney. His research topic examines the case for a universal basic income in Australia. His Masters focused on the four-day work week. His writing has appeared in The Australian, Arena, Left Flank and New Matilda. He blogs at


Orr‘The Shack’

A father-son story about the power of love, and how we learn to make the most of unfair situations.

Stephen Orr’s career began as a runner-up in the 2002 Vogel/Australian award. Attempts to Draw Jesus was published by Allen and Unwin in 2002. Since then he has written several other novels, been long- and shortlisted for awards such as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Miles Franklin, and worked as a journalist and teacher. His latest novel, One Boy Missing, was his first venture into literary crime writing.


Pajalic‘Soul to sell’

Hamzik’s father suffers a workplace injury which changes their lives forever, and transforms Hamzik by giving him strength to become his own man.

Fikret Pajalic came to Melbourne as a refugee and learnt English in his mid twenties. His fiction has appeared in Meanjin, Overland, Westerly, Etchings, Sleepers, Antipodes, The Big Issue, The Minnesota Review, Fjords Review, Sheepshead Review, Bop Dead City, Structo, Paper and Ink, JAAM and elsewhere.


Phillips‘The Occupation’

When a group of workers are locked out of their factory by the boss, it is the impulsive actions of an enigmatic outsider which show them the way to victory.

Mark Phillips is a Melbourne writer and unionist. He has worked more than 20 years in print journalism and related industries and is currently the editor of Working Life. He is the author of Radio City: The first 30 years of 3RRR-FM (The Vulgar Press, 2006).


Emily Stoikovich photo‘Putting it all on the line’

Dolly’s doing her best to keep her family afloat, but when her boss at the chicken factory pushes too far, she takes courage from others who’ve worked the line and puts her foot down.

Emily Stoikovich is a Melbourne-based writer, teacher and mother of two mischievous children. She is currently slogging over her first novel and is completing an Associate Degree of Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT.


Poetry Prize Shortlist


A mother takes a brief rest from working on the factory floor to play her violin.

Ivy Alvarez is the author of Disturbance (Seren, 2013) and Mortal (2006). Her work appears in many publications, including Best Australian Poems, with some translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived many years in the UK before moving to New Zealand.



MandyBeaumont_3790_72dpi‘She inherited the earth’

A young woman finding her voice to fight for a fairer world.

Mandy Beaumont teaches creative writing at Griffith University, and in 2014  won the MOTH International Short Story Award, as well as being shortlisted for the ACU Poetry Award. She was the poet in residence at the State Library of Queensland and has been published and performed widely.


Clements (poet)‘Terry’

‘Terry’ parallels Anzac wartime experiences with those of a disenfranchised worker in Australia.

Emily Clements, 22, moved to Melbourne after working as an editor in Vietnam. In 2014, her work was longlisted for the Joanne Burns award and broadcast over Federation Square for the Melbourne Writers Festival. Recently Emily received the Melbourne Young Writers Award. She is currently writing her first memoir.


Holopainen‘King’s Way’

‘Kings Way’ was written while housesitting a one-room apartment high above Kings Way, watching office workers through office windows, recalling call centres I have had the misfortune to sell my labour to.

Shannon Holopainen is a committed lumpen from Melbourne’s outer West who has studied painting, social theory and philosophy at postgraduate level and once made the mistake of writing fishing articles for the NT News.


IMG_0143 (1)‘Work’

‘Work’ is about the vicissitudes of short-term and casual work and their effect on the social and economic wellbeing of workers.

Jennifer Mackenzie is the author of Borobudur (Transit Lounge, Melbourne 2009), republished in Indonesia as Borobudur and Other Poems (Lontar, Jakarta 2012). She has presented her work at many festivals in Australia and Asia, including the Melbourne, Irrawaddy and Ubud festivals. In March 2016 she will take up a writer’s residency in South Korea.


Pourshafigi‘Clancy of the overtime’

The title is a reference to bush poet Banjo Patterson’s ‘Clancy of the Overflow’ while the text refers directly to personal experiences while undertaking various jobs of precarious employment. 

Sammaneh Pourshafighi

1.5 generation immigrant
Documenter of personal experience
Currently working on visual arts and tattoo as Studio Holland
And a rap project under the name Hur Highness
Believer of a Hardcore Gay Lifestyle


Stewart‘Deep Creek’

Finding yourself stuck upstream. Powerball, crystals, prime beef, pearls – part nightmare, part warp. 

Emily Stewart is a book editor and poet based in Sydney. She is commissioning editor of Seizure and tweets as @stewemily.



‘Glossary’ is an act of casuistry – a wry hermeneutic is applied over the frame of the term ‘casual’ to reveal something of its form, and of the language in which it sits.

Mitchell Welch is a writer, editor and poet. Originally from Brisbane, Mitchell lives in Melbourne where he is writing a novel and working as a cemetery administrator.


Wicks 2 copy‘Struggle’

‘Struggle’ is all about the juggle, a picture exploring how a life completes itself despite economic and personal challenges before it.

Les Wicks for decades worked within and with the more marginalised workforce. He has toured widely and seen publication across 23 countries in 11 languages. His eleventh book of poetry is Sea of Heartbeak (Unexpected Resilience) (Puncher & Wattmann, 2013), his twelfth (a Spanish selection) El Asombrado (Rochford St, 2015).


‘We are the fringe dwellers’

Lauren Womersley



Daydreams of a better future made all the more important when faced with the realities of everyday life and made all the more real and possible through union and campaign activism.


‘Climbing ladders’ (second shortlisting)

The hypocrisy of supposed social mobility given that the ladder can only be climbed by a few, a reminder of where the real fight is at.

Unity Yamazaki has been writing poetry since she could write – with a few lapses. She ventured to a Tokyo poetry reading and has since impressed slam audiences in Delhi and Sydney. She supports union struggle and is involved in political campaigns including the fights for refugee rights and against Islamophobia.


Cartoons and Illustrations Prize Shortlist

Adelpour‘Labour Hire Sick Bed’

This graphic looks at the effect of insecure labour-hire work on workers’ health and wellbeing.

‘Casual’s sick leave’ (second shortlisting)

A graphic looking at the link between job security and workers’ health.

Adam Adelpour is a cartoonist, artist, activist and member of Solidarity. He has a Masters of Fine Arts from Sydney College of the Arts and lives and works in Sydney.



This uncomfortably funny graphic poem hijacks our Australian aspirations & dreams with the confronting reality of homelessness.

Zachary Barclay (mOzach) is a performance poet and architect with a passion for the arts. He lives in the rainforest in Kuranda, Far North Queensland, with his wife and two children. They are all quite happy and well adjusted.


Blumstein‘Real jobs’

No job security when you’re a cartoonist. Good to know people with real jobs have some.

David Blumenstein is a writer, cartoonist, animator, graphic scribe, whatever. Recently he did a comic for The Nib about Nazi trolls, a school report about George Brandis for Crikey’s Daily Review and a book about pick-up artist tutor Julien Blanc for Pikitia Press.


Brant‘The dark knight’

Batman is my favourite superhero and this drawing is a response to Frank Miller’s somewhat aging Batman, where I tried to imagine the quiet dignity of what Batman would experience when he still had the will but his body wasn’t as capable of the same feats. 

Paul Brant is an artist/illustrator with an interest in comic books, neo-traditional tattoo design and old English Masters like Turner and Webb. He drives a truck in between drawings. Paul is also a dad and a broken roller derby referee. He is on Twitter as @badmood_jones and Instagram as @pablo_brant.


Carter-Hansen‘Investors milking the cash cow’

This particular work represents the desperation of investors clamouring to squeeze out the last available dollar in a world igniting as markets collapse and divisions between rich and poor widen to create even greater poverty to those already in need. 

Jill Carter-Hansen has written and illustrated a number of children’s books and also illustrated work of other writers since her arrival in Australia from NZ (1987) as an artist, photo journalist and illustrator, freelancing first with Fairfax and Australian publishing houses. She has written short fiction, created three artist films (screened internationally) and has shown in numerous curated group and solo exhibitions – as the sole supporter of three children, tutoring part time was essential. She is interested in justice, the environment and the peace movement. Her work with words and images continues.


SamDavis‘Weighing anchor’

Our culture is anchored to some antiquated values that are stopping us from moving forward towards a fairer Australia and I think it’s a heavy weight to lift alone.

Sam Davis – Smug, contemptuous cynicism maintained by a plethora of white-man guilt: my work often expresses an audacious political tone that with age will hopefully become more refined. If not, my dream is that something I do will be commodified to the extent that it can be printed on t-shirts and sold by the box to other idiots.


McDougall‘Casual wear’

Casual employment is a wonderful way for employers to shirk responsibilities and minimise risks… by dumping them onto the workers!

Keith McDougall is an artist from Melbourne. He makes biographical comics about artists such as George Grosz, The Fall and Noel Counihan. He has rapped, played and produced for Spitfire Parade, Eden Monaro and Keith Party, and composed music for fourteen plays.


About the NUW

The prize is supported and funded by the National Union of Workers, a large union that is made up of workers in a diverse number of industries including warehousing, cold storage, poultry, pharmaceutical, dairy and market research. Increasingly, NUW members are dealing with insecure and precarious work.

The NUW stands for jobs that all workers can count on, whether permanent, casual, contract or labour hire. NUW workers and community members collaborate and organise to build a fair Australia inside and outside the workplace.

The NUW believes that a union must be part of a broad social movement to create democratic change, equality and sustainable jobs.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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