The $18,000 Fair Australia Prize

Currently closed. Opens 1 May 2019

About the prize

What does unionism mean to people today? What should be its objectives? How can we come together to make real change, now and into the future?

This prize encourages artists and writers of fiction, poetry and essays to be part of setting a new agenda for our future – to imagine a just, common future, and how we might get there together.

The Fair Australia Prize is made up of 5 x $3000 prizes and 3 x $1000 union member prizes. There are prizes for:

  • fiction (up to 3000 words)
  • essay (up to 3000 words)
  • poetry (up to 88 lines)
  • cartoon or graphic (180 mm wide by 255 mm high)
  • best overall entry by a migrant writer, artist or worker*, and
  • three best member entries (for NUW, MEAA and NTEU members only); these $1000 prizes are awarded to member entries in any of the above categories

Winning entries will be published in a special Fair Australia supplement in Overland 233, 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.

Guidelines: please read and ensure eligibility before submitting.

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

*For the purposes of this competition, a ‘migrant worker, writer or artist’ defines a person living and working (temporarily or permanently) in a country where they were not born, and where they are not currently a citizen.


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 theme of a fairer future.

Entrants are encouraged to respond creatively and imaginatively – the competition seeks to foster innovative thinking and expression rather than dogma or didacticism. See the full list of 2018 judges.


Ideas and starting points

In an era of increasing economic inequality and social alienation, community-building, collective political action and workers’ unions are more vital than ever. And for the first time in many years, union membership is on the rise. Unions are formal institutions, networks for activism, and driven by political principals. They’re the sites of both conflict and hope.

In our work, our lives, and our communities, what are our collective goals? How will we achieve them? How does money, time, power alter our daily lives, limiting some while others rise to the ‘top’? How might we change our collective future?

Further reading

Background material for the prize

Previous winning entries

– Recent Overland pieces touching on similar themes:


Enter the Fair Australia Prize

Essay category

Current subscribers enter the essay competition here

Non-subscribers enter the essay competition here

Fiction category

Current subscribers enter the fiction competition here

Non-subscribers enter the fiction competition here

Poetry category

Current subscribers enter the poetry competition here

Non-subscribers enter the poetry competition here

Cartoon / graphic / art category

Current subscribers enter the graphic competition here

Non-subscribers enter the graphic competition here


About the National Union of Workers


The Fair Australia 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.

About the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

MEAA logoThe MEAA was formed from the merger of three organisations: the Australian Journalists Association, Actors Equity of Australia, and the Australian Theatrical & Amusement Employees Association. members include people working in TV, radio, theatre & film, entertainment venues, recreation grounds, journalists, actors, dancers, sportspeople, cartoonists, photographers, orchestral and opera performers as well as people working in public relations, advertising, book publishing and website production.

About the National Tertiary Education Union (Victoria)

nteu-logoThe NTEU provides a united voice for tertiary education workers, without the old, arbitrary divisions between different parts of the industry or different categories of workers. Today, the NTEU has members organised in universities, TAFE colleges, research institutes, adult education providers, student organisations, university and college companies and more.

About the Migrant Workers Centre

MWC (1)The Migrant Workers Centre (MWC) is a new unit at Victorian Trades Hall Council. The MWC is focused on ensuring migrant workers voices are heard, and works with community groups, unions and workers to deliver education programs, run campaigns and organise workers from migrant backgrounds.


Image: crop from poster ‘Capitalism also depends on women’s labour’, Red Women’s Workshop

Editorial team

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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