AustLit logo
Award for Non-Fiction (2011-)
The Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-Fiction (1985-2010)
Subcategory of Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
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.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2022

winner y separately published work icon The Mother Wound The Motherwound Amani Haydar , Sydney : Macmillan Australia , 2021 21532050 2021 single work autobiography

''I am from a family of strong women.'

'Amani Haydar suffered the unimaginable when she lost her mother in a brutal act of domestic violence perpetrated by her father. Five months pregnant at the time, her own perception of how she wanted to mother (and how she had mothered) was shaped by this devastating murder.

'After her mother's death, Amani began reassessing everything she knew of her parents' relationship. They had been so unhappy for so long - should she have known that it would end like this? A lawyer by profession, she also saw the holes in the justice system for addressing and combating emotional abuse and coercive control.

'Amani also had to reckon with the weight of familial and cultural context. Her parents were brought together in an arranged marriage, her mother thirteen years her father's junior. Her grandmother was brutally killed in the 2006 war in Lebanon, adding complex layers of intergenerational trauma.

'Writing with grace and beauty, Amani has drawn from this a story of female resilience and the role of motherhood in the home and in the world. In The Mother Wound, she uses her own strength to help other survivors find their voices.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2021

winner Paddy Manning for 'Body Count'.

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon No Friend but the Mountains : Writing From Manus Prison No Friend but the Mountains : The True Story of an Illegally Imprisoned Refugee Behrouz Boochani , Omid Tofighian (translator), Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2018 14342605 2018 selected work prose

'Where have I come from? From the land of rivers, the land of waterfalls, the land of ancient chants, the land of mountains...

'Since 2013, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani has been held in the Manus Island offshore processing centre.

'People would run to the mountains to escape the warplanes and found asylum within their chestnut forests...

'This book is the result. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi. It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile.

'Do Kurds have any friends other than the mountains? '  (Publication summary)

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon The Trauma Cleaner The Trauma Cleaner : One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster Sarah Krasnostein , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2017 11873511 2017 single work biography

'I call my dad from the car and ask him about his morning, tell him about mine.

'‘What kind of hoarder was she?’ he asks.

'‘Books and cats, mainly,’ I tell the man who loves his cats and who I know is now actively considering his extensive book collection.

'‘What’s the difference between a private library and a book hoarder?’ he wonders.

'We are both silent before we laugh and answer in unison: ‘Faeces.’

'But the difference is this phone call. And the others like it I could make—and how strong we are when we are loved.

'Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife…

'But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.

'A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his loungeroom. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still life of a home vacated by accidental overdose.

'Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to these, the living and the dead—and the book she has written is equally extraordinary. Not just the compelling story of a fascinating life among lives of desperation, but an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2016

winner y separately published work icon Something for the Pain : A Memoir of the Turf Gerald Murnane , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2015 8702842 2015 single work autobiography

'I never met anyone whose interest in racing matched my own. Both on and off the course, so to speak, I've enjoyed the company of many a racing acquaintance...I've read books, or parts of books, by persons who might have come close to being true racing friends of mine if ever we had met. For most of my long life, however, my enjoyment of racing has been a solitary thing: something I could never wholly explain to anyone else.

'As a boy, Gerald Murnane became obsessed with horse racing. He had never ridden a horse, nor seen a race. Yet he was fascinated by photos of horse races in the Sporting Globe, and by the incantation of horses' names in radio broadcasts of races. Murnane discovered in these races more than he could find in religion or philosophy: they were the gateway to a world of imagination.

'Gerald Murnane is like no other writer, and Something for the Pain is like no other Murnane book. In this unique and spellbinding memoir, he tells the story of his life through the lens of horse racing. It is candid, droll and moving—a treat for lovers of literature and of the turf. ' (Publication summary)

Works About this Award

Editorial Zora Sanders , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: Meanjin , vol. 73 no. 1 2014; (p. 3)
War Tome Proves Prizeworthy Ashleigh Wilson , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 29 January 2014; (p. 3)
Rich Pickings for a Happy Historian Stephen Romei , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 7 September 2011; (p. 10)
Kudos for Palm Island Tale Miriam Cosic , 2009 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 2 September 2009; (p. 3)
Carey Wins Vance Palmer Gia Metherell , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 9 September 2006; (p. 17)
X