The 2017 Fair Australia Prize

In the three years since the Fair Australia Prize first began, as global inequality has increased, the failure of neoliberalism and capitalism have become clearer, sparking important debate here and overseas. If the system is no longer working, what do we do next? The rise of the outsider, across the political spectrum, is one way this existential crisis has been articulated, with people searching for a different – a better – future.

This ‘future’ itself is contested; some see a more insular world as the solution to our current problems, others want a more inclusive, open and environmentally secure world.

It is an optimistic and transformative vision of the future, where things are fairer for everyone, that the Fair Australia Prize creates space for.

This competition is about hope, about the endless possibilities of imagination, and is something every person is able to share in and contribute to.

The values and vision of the Fair Australia Prize are the same as those that inform the work the NUW – and our partner unions for this year’s competition, the MEAA and the NTEU – undertake every day as we stand with working people to improve lives. Imagining and building a fairer Australia collectively is what union members do.

Despite the sometimes bleak, very real incidence of inequality, it is possible for people to change things. We should still have hope.

Hope, even as wage growth is low and company profits soar. Just a few weeks ago, NUW members defied trends and took on Woolworths – one of the biggest companies in the country – to win wage increases double the national average, job security across all Victorian warehouses and an agreement to implement a program to remove exploitation from the Woolworths fresh food supply chain, thus improving life for tens of thousands of workers.

Hope, because despite a destructive federal government unleashing abuse through a plebiscite on human rights, Australians overwhelmingly support marriage equality. At the time of writing, the Senate voted in favour of changing the Marriage Act for equality, a significant moment in building a fairer Australia.

Hope, in the entries and winners for the Fair Australia Prize. The poems, stories, essays and artworks submitted represent a body of work that values the contributions of ordinary people, that records our concerns and our dreams of fairer tomorrows.

We cannot know what the future will look like, and the volatile shifts in our political and economic systems can at times feel overwhelming. But in the last few months, we’ve seen that people working collectively can hope, fight and win. No matter the challenges that might arise, we need to keep hoping, fighting and winning together.

Congratulations to all our winners.




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Tim Kennedy

Tim Kennedy likes to ride his bike on the weekend. He is the national secretary of the National Union of Workers. Over Tim’s twenty years at the union, he has worked as an organiser, industrial officer, assistant national secretary, Victorian branch secretary and national president. His time at the union has seen increased worker-led activism and the creation of the NUW’s Community Membership, which is beginning to build links between NUW industrial activists and community activists for equality, decent and secure jobs, and a Fair Australia.

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