Fair Australia Prize 2018: the winners

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? The Fair Australia Prize  asks writers and artists to engage with these questions and imagine a new political agenda for Australia through fiction, essays, poetry, cartoons and art. In 2018, the prize is made up of 5 x $3000 prizes and 3 x $1000 union member prizes.

A special shoutout to all those who had their excellent work shortlisted this year, and thanks to all the talented writers, artists, workers and trade unionists who created a submission for this year’s competition. Thanks, also, to our hardworking judges: Evelyn Araluen, Toby Fitch, Carina Garland, Sian Vate, Melanie Cheng, Fiona McGregor, Mardi O’Connor, Amy McQuire, Giovanni Tiso, Godfrey Moase, Mary Leunig, Colin Long and Sam Wallman.

Overland, the National Union of Workers, the Migrant Workers Centre, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, and the National Tertiary Education Union (VIC) are very pleased to announce the winning entries for this year’s prize, which will be published in Overland’s final edition of the year, to be launched at our end-of-year debate on Friday 7 December at the Toff in Town, Melbourne.


Fiction ($3000)

‘Your cart is empty’ – Laura Elvery

Laura ElveryEleanor and her three kids think they’ve found their saviour.

Laura Elvery is the author of the short story collection, Trick of the Light (UQP), which was recently shortlisted in the Queensland Literary Awards. Laura lives in Brisbane.


Poetry ($3000)

‘The Deliveroo delegate’s day off’ – D Perez-McVie

D Perez-McVie‘my children are pulling a rickshaw with a big tick on / the side; / theyre fit, & very smart, know the city.’
– from ‘is today bad’, Michael Farrell

D Perez-McVie has been published in Rabbit, and edits poetry for Demos Journal. They live in Naarm, Victoria and post on Instagram @dpmcvie.


Cartoon/Graphic/Artwork ($3000)

‘Migrant farm work (#2)’ – Tia Kass

Tia KassTia 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. Style and originality is dominant throughout his artwork where he combines contrasting elements to tell stories that may make you laugh, cry or want to overthrow the bourgeoisie. Just kidding …  @tia_kass



‘Care and cooperativism in early childhood’ – Miriam Jones

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis essay explores the potential for worker-owned early childhood cooperatives, suggesting that organisations built on principles of reciprocity, solidarity and cooperation might uphold the dignity of both workers and children, and support the enactment of social justice in early childhood education and care.

Miriam Jones is an early childhood teacher and musician living on Wangal land in Sydney.



Best migrant worker entry (any category) ($3000)

‘Freedom for migrant farm workers’ – Ridwan Aziz

Ridwan AziaI drew this to show Australian people what is happening on their farms. We are all migrant workers mostly from Malaysia, who get exploited by fake visa agents and contractors who take our wages and passports. We live in fear of being deported if we speak out against exploitation, bullying and sexual harassment. We feel trapped by the visa system. The panel at the end shows our hope and dreams of freedom represented by our fight for amnesty with the NUW. As a union, farm workers will get respect and freedom.

Ridwan Aziz grew up in a small village located north of the peninsular Malaysia. He studied architecture, planning and surveying at University of Technology MARA (Uitm) in Malaysia and represented his university in the international design conference at Chiba Tokyo University in Japan. As a student activist, he was involved in several political rallies in order to bring the voice of justice to the people of Malaysia. These actions were barred by the authorities and made it unsafe for him to stay. In Malaysia, people do not yet truly have the right to freedom of speech. Ridwan decided to migrate to Australia because this country is free to fight for human rights and that is compatible with his soul. He wants to start a new life here.


Best NUW member entry (any category) ($1000)

‘Half leg’ – Yusniza Yusoff

The illustration tells the story of an individual who travels for work, from one place to another throughout Australia trying to find a place that would pay reasonably without any exploitation. The individual is depicted with their big bagpack, both front and back, while they stare deep into a space in which a cabbage collector is seen in Hay, NSW.

Yusniza Yusoff is a migrant worker.


Best NTEU member entry (any category) ($1000)

‘Upholding a vision of the future’ – Andrew Kirkpatrick

Andrew KirkpatrickIn the face of our unprecedented global climate emergency and the apparent nihilism that is both driving and brought on by this, the union movement needs to understand itself as an active participant in the creation of an ecological civilisation, and in doing so commit to upholding and enacting an optimistic and inspiring vision of the future.

Andrew Kirkpatrick is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Deakin University and a sessional tutor in philosophy at Swinburne University of Technology. His research interests include process philosophy, phenomenology and environmental philosophy.


Best MEAA member entry (any category) ($1000)

‘Conspiracy against the colony’ – Ann Deslandes

AnnDeslandesBeginning with the ‘New Australia’ colony established in Paraguay in 1891, this essay observes how the future of labour unionism in Australia depends on breaking the line of descent with white supremacy.

Ann Deslandes is a freelance writer and researcher. Most recently, her words have appeared in Ms. magazine, PRI.org’s Across Women’s Lives, and Overland. She is a proud member of the MEAA and former activist with the Australian Services Union and National Tertiary Education Union.


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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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