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Prize for Indigenous Writing
Subcategory of Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
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Notes

  • This prize was not offered in 2011. In that year the Victorian Premier announced that the award would become a biennial prize worth $20,000 ($15,000 in 2010). Its announcement in September 2012 would be timed to coincide with Indigenous Literary Day.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

winner y separately published work icon Tell Me Why : The Story of My Life and My Music Archie Roach , Cammeray : Simon and Schuster Australia , 2019 16745125 2019 single work autobiography

'One of the most powerful and highly anticipated Australian stories to be told.

'No one has lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was.

'Roach was only a few years old when he was forcibly removed from his family. Brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, his world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of.

'In this intimate, moving and often shocking memoir, Roach’s story is an extraordinary odyssey through love and heartbreak, family and community, survival and renewal – and the healing power of music. Overcoming enormous odds to find his story and his people, Roach voices the joy, pain and hope he found on his path through song to become the legendary singer-songwriter and storyteller that he is today – beloved by fans worldwide.

'Tell Me Why is a stunning account of resilience and the strength of spirit – and of a great love story.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon Taboo Kim Scott , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2017 11490897 2017 single work novel

'From Kim Scott, two-times winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, comes a work charged with ambition and poetry, in equal parts brutal, mysterious and idealistic, about a young woman cast into a drama that has been playing for over two hundred years ...

'Taboo takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar's descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife's dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations.

'But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged.

'We walk with the ragtag group through this taboo country and note in them glimmers of re-connection with language, lore, country. We learn alongside them how countless generations of Noongar may have lived in ideal rapport with the land. This is a novel of survival and renewal, as much as destruction; and, ultimately, of hope as much as despair.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2016

winner y separately published work icon Ghost River Tony Birch , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2015 8764472 2015 single work novel (taught in 1 units)

''You find yourself down at the bottom of the river, for some it's time to give into her. But other times, young fellas like you two, you got to fight your way back. Show the river you got courage and is ready to live.'

'The river is a place of history and secrets. For Ren and Sonny, two unlikely friends, it's a place of freedom and adventure. For a group of storytelling vagrants, it's a refuge. And for the isolated daughter of a cult reverend, it's an escape.

'Each time they visit, another secret slips into its ancient waters. But change and trouble are coming – to the river and to the lives of those who love it. Who will have the courage to fight and survive and what will be the cost?' (Publication summary)

Year: 2014

winner y separately published work icon Mullumbimby Melissa Lucashenko , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2013 Z1911852 2013 single work novel (taught in 8 units) 'When Jo Breen uses her divorce settlement to buy a neglected property in the Byron Bay hinterland, she is hoping for a tree change, and a blossoming connection to the land of her Aboriginal ancestors. What she discovers instead is sharp dissent from her teenage daughter, trouble brewing from unimpressed white neighbours and a looming Native Title war between the local Bundjalung families. When Jo unexpectedly finds love on one side of the Native Title divide she quickly learns that living on country is only part of the recipe for the Good Life.' (Source: TROVE)

Year: 2012

winner y separately published work icon Am I Black Enough for You? Anita Heiss , North Sydney : Bantam Australia , 2012 Z1836209 2012 single work autobiography (taught in 4 units)

'I'm Aboriginal. I'm just not the Aboriginal person a lot of people want or expect me to be.

'What does it mean to be Aboriginal? Why is Australia so obsessed with notions of identity? Anita Heiss, successful author and passionate campaigner for Aboriginal literacy, was born a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, but was raised in the suburbs of Sydney and educated at the local Catholic school. She is Aboriginal - however, this does not mean she likes to go barefoot and, please, don't ask her to camp in the desert. After years of stereotyping Aboriginal Australians as either settlement dwellers or rioters in Redfern, the Australian media have discovered a new crime to charge them with: being too "fair-skinned" to be an Australian Aboriginal. Such accusations led to Anita's involvement in one of the most important and sensational Australian legal decisions of the 21st-century when she joined others in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. He was found guilty, and the repercussions continue.

'In this deeply personal memoir, told in her distinctive, wry style, Anita Heiss gives a first-hand account of her experiences as a woman with an Aboriginal mother and Austrian father, and explains the development of her activist consciousness.' (From the publisher's website.)

Works About this Award

Lucashenko Takes Out Vic Indigenous Literary Award Rachael Hocking , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 10 September no. 584 2014; (p. 26)

'A story about native title, love and belonging has won the 2014 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Indigenous writing...'

Melissa Lucashenko Wins Victorian Literary Award 2014 single work column
— Appears in: National Indigenous Times , 10 September 2014; (p. 19)
'Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Tim Bull last awarded the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Indigenous Writing to Melissa Lucashenko at an awards ceremony at the Wheeler Centre...'
Holt Is On The Write Track 2008 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 8 October no. 436 2008; (p. 48)
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