The 2016 Overland NUW Fair Australia Prize

Competition now closes 11.59 pm, 31 August 2016.

About the prize

This year, the Fair Australia Prize is actually five $4000 prizes:

  • one for fiction (up to 3000 words)
  • one for essay (up to 3000 words)
  • one for poetry (up to 88 lines)
  • one for graphic or cartoon (180 mm wide by 255 mm high), and
  • one for the best entry by an NUW member (industrial or community)

The prize encourages artists and writers of fiction, poetry and essays to be part of setting a new agenda for our future. Winning entries will be published in a special Fair Australia supplement in Overland 225, to be launched in Melbourne in early December.

Entry to the Fair Australia Prize is free. Enter via one of the category links at the bottom of the page.

*Members of the National Union of Workers, kindly note: there is no separate category for NUW member entries. Instead, simply tick the box that asks if you are a member on the entry form for your category (whether that cartoon, fiction, poetry or essay).



The theme of this year’s prize

FairAus-cropThis year, the prize’s overarching theme is Our common future. There are four areas of ‘fairness’ we’d like people to think about in relation to this theme:

  1. Fair society
  2. Fair planet
  3. Fair jobs
  4. Fair food

How could things work better in these different areas? What do you think a fairer planet might look like in twenty years? How do we get there?

Writers and artists needn’t explore all of these ideas in their submissions. They might simply use one of the ideas as a starting point; for instance, how is food produced and distributed on a daily basis? Is this fair?


The kinds of questions entries might engage with

  • What would a sustainable future or a just justice system look like?
  • How can we improve labour or employment practices? For example, do we still need a minimum wage? Should we be working toward a universal basic income instead? How do we bridge the gaps (in conditions and wages) between businesses and employees?
  • How can we change our collective future together?

Read the background material and/or last year’s winning entries to get more of a sense of the kinds of pieces the prize is seeking.


How the prize will be judged

In each category, submissions will be read blind by a panel of judges. Winners will be selected on the basis of their aesthetic excellence, and their engagement with the issues and themes above and in this background material.

Entrants are encouraged to respond creatively and imaginatively – the competition seeks to foster innovative thinking and expression rather than dogma or didacticism.


Judges for the Fair Australia Prize


Sydney-based author Rebecca Giggs writes about ecology and environmental imagination, animals, landscape, politics and memory. Her nonfiction has appeared in publications including Best Australian Essays 2015 (Black Inc), Best Australian Science Writing 2014 (New South Books), GrantaThe New York Times MagazineGriffithREVIEWAeonMeanjin and Overland. Rebecca’s short fiction has also been widely published and anthologised in collections. She is a member of Faculty in the English Department at Macquarie University, where she teaches creative writing.

Jacinda Woodhead is the editor of Overland.

Godfrey Moase works as the Assistant General Branch Secretary at the National Union of Workers in Melbourne, Australia. He blogs at and can be reached on Twitter @gemoase.



Melissa Lucashenko is a multi-award winning Goorie novelist from Brisbane.  She writes about ordinary people and the extraordinary lives they lead.

Ellena Savage is a writer, editor, teacher, and researcher. Her stories and essays have been published and performed widely in Australia and overseas, and have won and been shortlisted for various awards. Ellena is an editor at The Lifted Brow, a columnist at Eureka Street, and a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Monash University.

Emma Kerin is a communications officer at the NW.



Samuel Wagan Watson is an award-winning Indigenous Australian poet based in Brisbane. His most recent collection is Love poems and death threats published by UQP in 2014. (

Toby Fitch is poetry editor of Overland and program director for the Australian Poets’ Festival. He also works as a bookseller at Gleebooks, a teacher of creative writing at the University of Sydney, and runs the Sappho Books poetry night.

Carina Garland is a feminist writer and communications officer at the NUW.



Sam Wallman is a political cartoonist, comics-journalist and labour organiser based in Melbourne. He has drawn for SBS, the ABC, the Guardian and Overland. He recently edited and published an anthology of drawings about class, called If We All Spat At Once They’d Drown.

Safdar Ahmed is a Sydney-based artist, academic and author of the Walkley award-winning web comic, Villawood: Notes from an immigration detention centre. Safdar is a founding member of the community art organisation, Refugee Art Project, for which he conducts regular art workshops with asylum seekers and refugees in Western Sydney.



Carina Garland

Emma Kerin

Godfrey Moase


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.

NUW_EveryWorkerCounts_logoThe 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.


Entry conditions

  • This is a prize for original pieces, written in English
  • Submissions must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers
  • Submissions that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible
  • Submissions will be processed electronically. Stories and essays should be formatted at 1.5-line spacing and a minimum of 12-point font size. Images must be jpgs or tifs
  • The competition will be judged anonymously. The author’s name must not appear on the manuscript or the entry will be disqualified
  • Multiple entries are acceptable, although each must be entered into the submission system separately
  • The winning entries will be published by Overland
  • Entrants must respond to the guidelines, background and materials provided
  • The closing date is 11.59pm, Sunday 31 August 2016. Late entries will not be accepted
  • The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into
  • The prize for each category will be $4000
  • The judges reserve the right not to arrive at a winner in any category


Ready to enter?

Short fiction (up to 3000 words)

Current Overland subscriber?
Click here to submit your entry.

Not yet an Overland subscriber?
Click here to submit your entry.
(Remember, you can support Overland by becoming a subscriber.)


Essay (up to 3000 words)

Current Overland subscriber?
Click to submit your entry.

Not yet an Overland subscriber?
Click to submit your entry.
(Remember, you can support Overland by becoming a subscriber.)


Poetry (up to 88 lines)

Current Overland subscriber?
Click to submit your entry.

Not yet an Overland subscriber?
Click to submit your entry.
(Remember, you can support Overland by becoming a subscriber.)


Graphics & cartoons (180 mm wide x 255 mm high; colour)

Current Overland subscriber?
Click to submit your entry.

Not yet an Overland subscriber?
Click to submit your entry.
(Remember, you can support Overland by becoming a subscriber.)


Overland-NUW joint membership-subscription


Both Overland magazine and the National Union of Workers depend on the support of members (industrial and community) and subscribers to continue the important work both organisations do. Which is why we offer a special membership-subscription that includes a discounted 12-month subscription to Overland (four print issues and the daily online magazine), and a one-year community membership with the National Union of Workers. Read more about community memberships, or take out a joint membership-subscription.



Lead image by Alex Proimos (via Wikipedia Commons).

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

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

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