AustLit logo
Best Non-Fiction Book
Subcategory of Walkley Award
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

Winners

2018 winner Helen Pitt
2017 winner y separately published work icon Cardinal : The Rise and Fall of George Pell Louise Milligan , Carlton : Melbourne University Press , 2017 11416991 2017 single work biography

'George Pell is the most recognisable face of the Australian Catholic Church. He was the Ballarat boy with the film-star looks who studied at Oxford and rose through the ranks to become the Vatican's indispensable 'Treasurer'. As an outspoken defender of church orthodoxy, 'Big George's' ascendancy within the clergy was remarkable and seemingly unstoppable.

'The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse has brought to light horrific stories about sexual abuse of the most vulnerable and provoked public anger at the extent of the cover-up. George Pell has always portrayed himself as the first man in the Church to tackle the problem. But questions about what the Cardinal knew, and when, have persisted.

'The nation's most prominent Catholic is now the subject of a police investigation into allegations spanning decades that he too abused children. Louise Milligan is the only Australian journalist who has been privy to the most intimate stories of complainants.

'She pieces together a series of disturbing pictures of the Cardinal's knowledge and his actions, many of which are being told here for the first time.

'Conspiracy or cover-up? Cardinal uncovers uncomfortable truths about a culture of sexual entitlement, abuse of trust and how ambition can silence evil. ' (Publication summary)

2015 winner Chip Le Grand for The Straight Dope, Melbourne University Press
2014 winner Paul Kelly for Triumph and Demise : The Broken Promise of a Labor Generation
2011 winner y separately published work icon King Brown Country : The Betrayal of Papunya Russell Skelton , Carlton : Scribe , 2006 9234838 2006 single work biography

''Why don't you check out Papunya? It's the sniffing capital of Australia, it's a Bermuda triangle for taxpayer funds. Nobody in the NT government gives a rats. The council just tossed out World Vision. People are frightened to talk.''

'For award-winning journalist Russell Skelton a five year journey of inquiry that coincided with one of the biggest shifts in indigenous policy in Australian history began on the day he received this email. Set with the backdrop of Papunya, a Northern Territory Aboriginal community whose history showed so much promise but whose dysfunction is now more prominent that its famous artwork, this is a book that had to be written.'

'Digging down into the core of indigenous issues today, Skelton exposes unmitigated misery, shocking levels of neglect and the devastating consequences of substance abuse. But above all, he reveals how systematic failure of indigenous policy betrayed a once secure community. He also introduces us to Alison Anderson, the woman whose presence has so dominated Papunya and the politics of the Northern Territory'

'King Brown Country is a powerful and shaming portrait of a community in crisis. Papunya remains an emblem for the failure of all Australians to come to terms with the continent's oldest inhabitants. ' (Source: Publishers website)

2010 winner y separately published work icon The Circle of Silence : A Personal Testimony Before, During and After Balibo Shirley Shackleton , Millers Point : Pier 9 , 2010 Z1600570 2010 single work autobiography 'Australian Shirley Shackleton was launched into an unexpected life as a human rights activist when her journalist husband Greg Shackleton was killed in East Timor in 1975. Her story is filled with a profound sense of purpose, enduring love for her late husband, and a fierce determination to seek truth and justice not only regarding the events leading up to the murders of the journalists who came to be known as Balibo Five, but for the cause of democracy and freedom in East Timor.' (From the publisher's website.)
2008 winner y separately published work icon American Journeys Don Watson , North Sydney : Random House , 2008 Z1477248 2008 single work prose travel

'Only in America - the most powerful democracy on earth, home to the best and worst of everything - are the most extreme contradictions possible. In a series of journeys acclaimed author Don Watson set out to explore the nation that has influenced him more than any other.

'Travelling by rail gave Watson a unique and seductive means of peering into the United States, a way to experience life with its citizens: long days with the American landscape and American towns and American history unfolding on the outside, while inside a tiny particle of the American people talked among themselves.

'Watson's experiences are profoundly affecting: he witnesses the terrible aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast; explores the savage history of the Deep South, the heartland of the Civil War; and journeys to the remarkable wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. Yet it is through the people he meets that Watson discovers the incomparable genius of America, its optimism, sophistication and riches - and also its darker side, its disavowal of failure and uncertainty.

'... American Journeys investigates the meaning of the United States: its confidence, its religion, its heroes, its violence, and its material obsessions. The things that make America great are also its greatest flaws.' (Publisher's blurb)

2007 winner y separately published work icon Jonestown : The Power and the Myth of Alan Jones Chris Masters , 2006 Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2006 Z1281656 2006 single work biography

'How do we rank a man who raises millions for people in need but whose actions waste millions in support of unworthy mates and poor public policy? How do we define someone who on his own finds jobs for the out of work but who routinely trashes the careers of others?

'These are some of the many paradoxes of Alan Jones. Why is he adored? Why is he reviled? Why does this talk radio host have the power to dine with presidents, lecture prime ministers and premiers, and influence government ministers? And how is it that he could not only survive such a scandal as the 'cash for comment' affair, but go on to greater reward? Chris Masters seeks the answers to these questions and in doing so reveals a complex individual and the potent relationship he has with both Struggle Street and the big end of town.

'Compelling and probing, Jonestown takes us to the hazardous intersection of populism and politics. It reaches deep into a powerful industry and exposes the myth and the magic of a very powerful man. a very powerful man.' (Publication summary)

2006 winner y separately published work icon Packer's Lunch : A Rollicking Tale of Swiss Bank Accounts and Money-Making Neil Chenoweth , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2006 Z1255001 2006 single work biography
X