Fair Australia Prize 2017: the shortlists

What does a fairer world look like, and how do we get there? The Fair Australia Prize, supported by the National Union of Workers, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, and the National Tertiary Education Union (VIC), asks writers and artists to engage with these questions and imagine a new political agenda for Australia through fiction, essays, poetry, cartoons and art.

We are pleased to announce that the following writers and artists have been shortlisted for the 2017 Fair Australia Prize. (Winners will be announced late next week.)

A big thanks to all the talented folk who created a submission for this year’s competition. Thanks to our keen judges, too: Michalia Arathimos, Jennifer Down, Emma Kerin, Antony Loewenstein, Godfrey Moase, Jacinda Woodhead, Ellen van Neerven, Toby Fitch, Carina Garland, Sam Wallman, Cathy Wilcox and Sam Davis.

Finally, congratulations to the shortlisted authors and artists!


Bronwyn Lovell‘Commonwealth’

Because the government fails to adequately value or support the work of artists, highly qualified and skilful art practitioners are often forced to spend their time engaged in casual, unskilled, career-irrelevant work for minimum wage, which is a misuse of the talents and strengths they have to offer as creative professionals, and everyone in our society suffers a tremendous loss as a result, because artists could be contributing to the community in so many more enriching and enduring ways.

Bronwyn Lovell’s poetry has appeared in Best Australian Poems, Meanjin, Antipodes, Cordite and other journals. She has won the Val Vallis Award and the Adrien Abbott Poetry Prize; been shortlisted for the Newcastle, Bridport and Montreal prizes; and nominated for a Rhysling Award by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. bronwynlovell.com

Jake Goetz photo‘Eco de la historia’

Written while I lived in Sydney’s Inner-west, ‘Eco de la historia’, meditates on the repetitious nature of violence throughout human history and suggests a re-imagining of society where humans do not hold the absolute position of power: something obvious, yet often obfuscated by the society in which we live.

Jake Goetz currently resides in Brisbane where he is writing a long poem with the Brisbane River. His poetry has appeared in Plumwood MountainCorditeRabbitMascara and The Sun Herald among other publications. He is the editor of Marrickville Pause.

LancasterRaelee_author-bio‘How to make a cuppa coffee (in six simple steps)’

‘How to make a cuppa coffee (in six simple steps)’ is a poem that uses a recipe for coffee to explore the colonisation of Aboriginal people in Australia.

Raelee Lancaster is a Brisbane-based poet and research assistant. Raelee has had poems published in Rabbit and Westerly and she participated in the 2017 Toolkits: Poetry program through Australian Poetry and Express Media. Raised on Awabakal country, she is a descendant of the Wiradjuri people.

Philip Neilsen‘Impediments to a Fair Future in Three Movements’

The sequence of three poems is based on my experience of: 1. working-class men and women becoming aware that their jobs are increasingly threatened by globalisation and technology (as if an endangered species); 2. the corporatisation and managerialism that now controls universities and renders education a commodity, for those who can afford it; 3. the persistent degrading of marginal farming land in denial of climate change.

Philip Neilsen’s sixth collection of poetry, Wildlife of Berlin, will be published by UWAP in 2018. He teaches poetry writing at the University of Queensland. His work has been translated into languages including Chinese, German and Korean, and is included in The Best Australian Poems 2017.

Sutherland‘East Perth [imagined nation]’

A response to citizenship, love, distance and intercultural yearning.

Andrew Sutherland is primarily a theatre practitioner between Perth and Singapore. Recent theatre works include Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes with Perth’s Renegade Productions and Baby Girl for Black Swan State Theatre’s Emerging Writers Group. He serves as creative producer and dramaturg for Singaporean interdisciplinary company Pink Gajah Theatre.

Maddie Godfrey‘How to Spell “Home”’

‘How to Spell “Home”’ is a navigation of national identity, articulated through my own struggle to call Western Australia ‘home’ without flinching.

Maddie Godfrey is a Perth-bred writer and performance poet. At 22, she has performed at The Sydney Opera House, The Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury Festival. She was recently a poet-in-residence at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Maddie’s debut collection How to Be Held will be released in 2018. maddiegodfrey.com | facebook.com/maddiegodfreypoet

michael at i love poetry launch‘Soundshare’

‘Soundshare’ proposes an answer to the problem that politicians speak for us but say nothing, as well as imagines the implications and expressions of a fairer distribution of speech or sound.

Michael Farrell lives in Fitzroy. His recent books include I Love Poetry (Giramondo) and Writing Australian Unsettlement: Modes of Poetic Invention 1796–1945 (Palgrave Macmillan). He coedited Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets with Jill Jones. He also edits Flash Cove.

Carl Walsh‘Taungurung’

This poem is about dispossession and my part in it – the Taungurung are the traditional owners of the land my family farmed for around 100 years.

Carl Walsh is a public servant who enjoys writing in the snatched moments afforded between work and family life. His writing has been published in n-SCRIBE (an arts and literary journal for writers in Melbourne’s northern suburbs), Cordite Poetry Review, Visible Ink and Rabbit.


Madison Griffiths‘The horses are damn fine’

A nuanced look into Australia’s notorious horse-racing industry as seen through the eyes of one family: three generations of people who each make sense of class, abuse, loss and inequality in their own way.

Madison Griffiths is a writer, artist and poet whose work has been published in VICE, SBS, Overland, Daily Life, pedestrian.tv, Catalogue Magazine, Catapult and Going Down Swinging, amongst others. Her work revolves predominantly around issues concerning women, mental illness, and race.


In a heavily policed state that preferences the human and punishes the different, a mother gives herself up to save her transgenic child.

Else Fitzgerald is a Melbourne-based writer. Her work has appeared in various places including Visible Ink, Australian Book Review, The Suburban Review, Offset and Award Winning Australian Writing.  Find her at elsefitzgerald.com


A young man’s day at work is interrupted by a marching crowd who’ve had enough.

Bryant Apolonio graduated from the University of Sydney in 2016, where he studied Law and English. While he was there, he wrote for and edited the student newspaper, Honi Soit. He lives and works in Sydney and has recently started writing fiction.

Limprecht‘The hunt’

‘The Hunt’ was inspired by a news article about an Easter egg hunt that culminated in angry parents and crying children in Geelong.

Eleanor Limprecht is the author of three novels: The Passengers (due out in 2018 with Allen & Unwin), Long Bay and What Was Left (shortlisted for the 2014 ALS Gold Medal). She also writes short fiction, book reviews and essays published in various places, including Best Australian Stories. When not writing, Eleanor teaches as a casual academic at UTS.

McWatters‘The massage parlour’

When a mysterious massage parlour pops up next door to the civic library in the conservative town of Babylon, Nizar, a refugee boy, allows his story to become the bridge between ‘outrage’ and ‘welcome’, so that everyone gets their happy ending.

Nikki McWatters was shortlisted for a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award (2010) and has published a memoir and two young adult novels. She won the Irish Moth Award (2016) and has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, The UK Huffington Post and The Big Issue. Nikki also has a law degree in her bottom drawer somewhere.

stephen house‘Angels and fairies’

As a little boy he read in his favourite book, that if you hoped hard enough and needed help badly enough, an angel would come and rescue you … he believed it and still does.

Stephen House has won two Awgie Awards, Rhonda Jancovic Poetry Award, and been shortlisted for the Patrick White and Queensland Premier Drama Awards, Tom Collins Poetry Prize, and a Greenroom acting Award. He’s received Australia Council Canada and Ireland literature residencies and an Asia-link India residency. He’s been published and performed often.

Mandy beaumont‘A riot of colour’

About a son’s broken promise, and his shame in knowing he could have done so much more.

Mandy Beaumont teaches creative writing at Griffith University. Most recently she was a finalist in the VU Overland Short Story Award, the Rachel Funari Award, the Newcastle Short Story Award and the NUW Fair Work Award. Mandy won the MOTH Short Story Award and a Wheeler Centre Writing Fellowship. In 2016 she edited the Overland ‘The Idea of Women’ edition. She is also a proud unionist. W: mandybeaumont.com IG: @mandybeaumontwriting

Sarah-Jane Collins‘What about tomorrow?’

‘What about Tomorrow?’ considers what comes after climate change, social media and ‘fake news’, and the choices people make to survive, whatever that might mean.

Sarah-Jane Collins is a writer and journalist from Brisbane. Her work has appeared in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Overland and others. She is currently completing an MFA in creative writing at Columbia University in New York.

Graphic / Artwork

Oslo Davis‘Fair suck of the sav’

By having fun with a beloved old Australian idiom about fairness, by using cheeky cartooning tricks such as absurdity and nonsense, I hope people are entertained and then jolted into realising what a cruel and unfair country we have become.

Oslo Davis is ostensibly a drawer of pictures that range from the funny to the not funny at all. Oslo draws different things (jokes, Op-Ed art, decorations, etc.) for different organisations, including The Monthly, SBS, Meanjin and the Golden Plains festival. Oslo’s cartoon Overheard has been published in The Age since 2007.

Lizzie Nagy & Simon Unwin‘Sweeter for everyone’

Something is rotten in Australia’s fresh food supply chain – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Lizzie Nagy is an artist, illustrator and comic-maker from Sydney. Simon Unwin is a writer and organiser from northwest NSW, now based in London.

Tia Kass‘The RDVSA’

Councillors at the Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (RDVSA) launched a series of campaigns called ‘no profit from rape’, fighting back attempts to privatise their national hotline.

Tia Kass is an illustrator, street artist and wannabe activist based in Melbourne. He is passionate about exposing the injustices of class society, all the while awaiting for that one glimmer of hope: his daily fix of a coffee and a sweet.

Merv Heers‘The Island of Dreams’

As the natural world manifests its rage in the form of an abominable gale, a young mother receives a call to action.

Merv Heers is a comic-book artist who currently lives in Melbourne Australia. He spends most of his time working in his apartment with his partner Charlotte and their two rabbits Susan and Regis.

Nicky Minus Headshot‘The New (Not) Normal’

The New (Not) Normal looks at the precarious nature of work today and the struggles that most workers face in the fight for a fairer Australia

Nicky Minus is a cartoonist whose work has most recently appeared in The Lifted Brow, Overland and both editions of the American anthology Resist. She just returned from a two-week residency in Yogyakarta as part of the Comic Art Workshop, workshopping her new graphic novel about shame, power and spit.

Sofia Sabbagh‘Nothing to lose’

A reflection on my job insecurity, and how it can be used tool to unite us and inspire sustainable solutions.

‘In our streets’

A reflection on my personal job insecurity, and our shared history of working for a better life.
Sofia Sabbagh is from Melbourne, Wurundjeri country, of Palestinian descent. She is the author of short comic ‘Belonging’, and aims to inspire happiness through creative ways of living ordinary life.

finley walsh‘Uprising’

‘Uprising’ wonders about robots, about the ways in which they are better than humans and the ways in which this is a dumb question.

Fin Walsh is from Adelaide, helps out at the local pub and occasionally writes and illustrates, normally accompanied by travel.

Stuart McMillen-2017-250‘The Buried wealth of Australia’

The richest seven people in Australian own more wealth than the bottom 20% of society combined. What if everyday people knew this fact?

Stuart McMillen is a cartoonist based in Canberra. Stuart draws long-form comics inspired by social issues involving science, ecology, sustainability, psychology and economics. Stuart is a crowdfunded cartoonist, with an ongoing Patreon crowdfunding campaign hosted at crowdfundstu.com.


Michael Dulaney photo‘Beyond the Bridge to Nowhere’

A small sketch of how PR exercises and empowerment language can hijack the difficult work of addressing inequality and industrial pollution.

Michael Dulaney is a writer and journalist based in Sydney. His work has been published by Griffith Review, the Monthly and the Lifted Brow, among others. He tweets at @michael_dulaney.

TimRobertson‘In Our Name’

The essay explores how the torture of asylum seekers, and the concealment and deception of these actions, corrodes and corrupts Australian society.

Tim Robertson is an independent journalist and writer. He tweets @timrobertson12

AndreDao‘The Spectre of Automation’

‘The spectre of automation’ is an attempt to listen to the ghostly voices of automated capitalism.

André Dao is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. He is the co-founder of Behind the Wire, an oral history project documenting people’s experience of immigration detention, and the deputy editor of the New Philosopher.

Version 3‘What we are due’

A moral topography of Australia, from offshore detention and Indigenous incarceration to the top of the social pyramid and the wellsprings of power dressed up as our ethics.

Lucas Grainger-Brown is a PhD student at The University of Melbourne. His academic focus is democratic theory and practical reform as one component of the changes needed to deal with twenty-first century challenges. Visit him at thedailycatcher.net.

jess mclean 250‘Those Anthropocene Feelings’

‘Those Anthropocene Feelings’ offers a critical geographic reading of the complex emotions that arise with environmental dilemmas, from local river degradation to climate change, and advocates hope and generative action as necessary responses.

Jess McLean is a human geography lecturer at Macquarie University who researches digital spaces, social movements and Indigenous knowledges. She lives near the Cooks River and takes time to walk along its banks, despite its frequent malodour.

Astrid Lorange‘Forging the Declaration’

‘Forging the Declaration’ reads James Cook – with the Declaration by Vincent Namatjira, focusing on the legal document that the painting both represents and calls into question.

Dr Astrid Lorange is a teacher, writer and editor from Sydney. She lectures at UNSW Art & Design. Her book How Reading is Written: A Brief Index to Gertrude Stein was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2014. She is one-half of Snack Syndicate, a critical art collective.

jbullhead‘Aussie Albert’

A snapshot of Albert Namatjira is a window into the injustices befalling Indigenous Australians, who are still denied a voice in determining their destiny in contemporary Australia.

Julian Bull studied natural resources management and landscape architecture at the Universities of Adelaide and Melbourne. His numerous articles on landscape architecture, urban design and art have been published in Australia and overseas.

O‘The Safe Place’

‘The Safe Place’ pays tribute to the social contribution made by public libraries, those welcoming and democratic spaces offering  equitable and safe access for all Australians, especially the most marginalised members of our community.

Chris Brophy completed postgraduate studies in Creative Writing at RMIT in 2012. She has lived and worked in many parts of Australia – as a teacher, librarian, film production manager/publicist, arts administrator, researcher and policy writer. She currently lives and works on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

Katherine Maher‘One of Your Family’

Mr Herman Bambie’s account of searching for family is a rare and valuable insight to a barely acknowledged political and social history of Australia.

Dr Katherine Maher is a writer and social researcher working in education. She is currently engaged in research exploring the role of narratives in reparative social justice.

Best member entry (NUW/NTEU/MEAA)

‘The RDVSA’ – Tia Kass; graphic

‘Commonwealth’ – Bronwyn Lovell; poem

‘Beyond the Bridge to Nowhere’ – Michael Dulaney; essay

‘Forging the Declaration’ – Astrid Lorange; essay



MEAA logo


Image: Detail from ‘Circles in a Circle’ (1923)

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