The $20,000 Fair Australia Prize – extended until 19 August!

About the prize

In an era of increasing economic inequality and social alienation, community-building, collective political action and workers’ unions are more vital than ever.

How does money, time, and power alter our daily lives, limiting some while others rise to the ‘top’? In our work, our lives, and our communities, how should things be? How might we change our collective future?

The Fair Australia prize encourages artists and writers of fiction, poetry and essays to explore these questions. We want artists and writers to be part of setting a new agenda.

Winning entries will be published in a special Fair Australia edition in Overland 237, to be launched in Melbourne in early December.

The prize is co-sponsored by the National Union of Workers and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, with support from the Migrant Workers Centre, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, the Victorian branch of the National Tertiary Education Union and Overland.


2019 theme: ‘Strike’

Please bear in mind that entrants are encouraged not to take the theme too literally.  We encourage you to think about the theme broadly and laterally; to use it as a jumping off point for your own ideas.

Here are a few prompts:

Had enough? Withdraw your labour. Down tools, occupy the factory. It’s the snake you’ve provoked. The match being struck. The hammer on the anvil. Sparks fly. Don’t cross the picket line. Take to the streets. Shaky viral footage on a loop across the networks. A swing and a miss. Leave the floor unswept, the dishes in the sink. The sky darkens before the sudden flash. All that electricity. Bombs fall in enemy territory. Days turn to weeks. What could you withhold? Keep digging: you might find oil, find gold. 1856, 1968. The police horses swish their tails and twitch. A staring match. Bloodied knuckles, bone on bone. Sandstone. The hunger of the suffragettes. The lock on the gate. The chime of the clock. What would make you walk out? What would it take?



The $20,000 Fair Australia Prize is made up of 10 smaller prizes:

  • 5 x $3000 prizes
  • 3 x $1000 union member prizes (NUW, MEAA and the NTEU), and
  • 2 x $1000 youth prizes (sponsored by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers)

There are prizes in the following categories:

  • 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* (in any category)
  • best overall youth entry – 18 and under (in any category)
  • best overall youth entry – 19 to 30 (in any category)
  • three best member entries in any category (for NUW, MEAA and NTEU members only)

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 anonymously by a panel of judges.

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 2019 judges.


Further reading

Looking for inspiration? Try here:

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 Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

anothjerMaurice Blackburn is proud to be Australia’s leading social justice law firm. They’ve built a reputation on the unwavering belief that the law should serve everyone, not just those who can afford it. Maurice Blackburn is a national firm with over 30 offices throughout Australia and more than 1000 of the country’s best and most respected legal professionals fighting for everyday Australians and their rights to feel free, safe and heard.

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.


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


Image: Molly Adams / Flickr