Fair Australia Prize 2016: the winners

What does a fair Australia look like, and how do we get there? The 2016 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 very pleased to announce the winning entries of this year’s prize, which will be published in Overland’s final edition of the year to be launched next Friday night in Melbourne (launch details below):



Stephen Wright‘On Setting Yourself on Fire’ – Stephen Wright

About Nauru, political protest, the destruction of the common good, and the limitations, helplessness and uses of literature when confronted with the things it won‘t talk about.

Stephen Wright’s essays have won the Eureka St Prize, the Nature Conservancy Prize, the Overland NUW Fair Australia Prize and the Scarlett Award, and been shortlisted for several others. He was writer-in-residence for the 2015 Mesmerism new music festivals and his non-fiction novella A lantern carried down a dark path is forthcoming from Tiny Owl.

Cartoon and graphic

Merv Heers‘Imagine a better future’ – Merv Heers

Merv Heers is a comic book artist originally from the western suburbs of Brisbane who currently resides in Melbourne. He started his artistic journey as a juvenile delinquent and vandal in the western suburbs of Brisbane. Through this exposure to the world of underground art he eventually moved to Melbourne and branched out into other forms of expression including music, drag and small press. He has now devoted himself to making comic books.


Bill Collopy- casual‘Burned Fingers’ – Bill Collopy

Sharing a house with other refugees, a young man from Africa learns that the past cannot be separated from his present reality.

Bill Collopy is the author of one novel, one non-fiction book, and various essays and works of short fiction. For many years he has managed welfare programs in Melbourne. He has disappearing hair and keeps running out of bookshelves.


Overland pic Joel Ephraims‘Chalcedony South’ – Joel Ephraims

‘Chalcedony South’ challenges the everyday, common unfairness of our country as it operates throughout our society in terms of wealth, gender, sexuality, immigration and child detention, entangled as part of our common democratic character and perpetuating into our questionable future as a geological continuation of our European past and capitalist ideology.

Joel Ephraims lives on the South-East Coast of NSW. In 2011 he won the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize and in 2013 his first collection of poetry Through the Forest was published as part of Australian Poetry and Express Media’s New Voices Series. His poems have appeared in Voiceworks, Overland, Seizure, Cordite, Kindling and Mascara. He was recently commissioned to write a series of poems for The Red Room Company’s The Disappearing.

Best NUW Member entry

Tomas  LambePoem: ‘Cards’ – Tomas Lambe

A poem which explores how playing the cards you’re dealt is sometimes easier said than done.

Tomas Lambe is a member of the dandylion collective based in Adelaide. During the 2016 Australian election campaign he wrote a political poem-a-day on his blog caretakermode. Now, more than ever, he believes writers & artists should be tackling the tough political issues of our time in creative & insightful ways.


Overland 225, our final edition of the year, containing the Fair Australia Prize winners, will be launched 6pm next Friday (9 December) at the Toff in Town in Melbourne, with the debate ‘Does a “common future” mean overhauling our political system?’.

Special guest speakers include: Osman Faruqi, Melissa Cranenburgh, Roz Ward, Ben Eltham, Tim Lyons and Tim Kennedy.

Free food, free drinks, free event!


Image: ‘Middelgruden Offshore Wind Farm in Denmark’ / flickr

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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