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Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards to be the Richest in Australia

Zora Sanders April 21

We were thrilled to be present this morning when Premier Ted Baillieu announced changes to the Premier’s Literary Prize which, from this year, will make it the richest literary prize in Australia. Hoorah!

There will be five categories, each with a prize of $25,000. The Categories are Fiction, Non- Fiction, Drama, Poetry and Writing for Young Adults. This change increases the prize money for Drama, Poetry and Writing for Young Adults, bringing them to parity with the other categories.

The winners of each category will be eligible for the major prize of $100,000, taking the winner’s total prize money to $125,000, by far the richest literary prize in the country.

Two further changes to the awards were announced by the Premier, including the introduction of a prize for unpublished manuscripts:

“From 2012, the program will include a $15,000 award for the best unpublished manuscript, to be presented as part of the Emerging Writers festival in May, and a $20,000 biennial prize for indigenous writing, presented to coincide with Indigenous Literacy Day in September, an increase of $5,000 from the previous offering.”

Speaking about the Premier’s Awards more broadly, Baillieu stated their importance to Victoria, and to Melbourne as an internationally recognised City of Literature, saying:

“Victoria has a very proud literary tradition, and a we have a culture of reading and a strong engagement with literary events … Literature is in the lifeblood of Victorians culturally and historically and it is at the forefront of ideas. And Victorians can be proud of the fact over 150, 160 years, Victorians have been at the forefront of ideas in this nation and that is one of the strong points of Victoria. This was recognised by UNESCO in the designation of Melbourne as a city of Literature in 2008, and in many other areas.”

We think it is true, as the Premier said, that the changes will provide the public with an easily understood shortlist covering all categories, making the awards easier to follow and promote.

Baillieu said “These changes seek to streamline the award and strengthen our support for Literature in this state” and that “the awards will offer readers ‘the best of the best’ in an accessible structure that highlights 21 extraordinary shortlisted works, six titles each in the categories of fiction and non fiction, and three titles each in the other three categories.”

Baillieu praised the bi-partisan efforts of his predecessors, Premiers John Cain and Steve Bracks in establishing and developing the Awards, and emphasised the importance of the Premier’s Award both for Victorians and the country as a whole:

“I believe they make a clear statement on the importance of writers and writing in our society and our culture.”

It was also announced this morning that $250, 000 will be provided to fund the ongoing Melbourne City of Literature initiative, and that this funding will secure the future of the Melbourne Writers Festival and boost the profile of the initiative’s other programs, though further details were not given.

We welcome the news of the increased prize money and the introduction of an award for an unpublished manuscript. We look forward to seeing who makes the shortlist later in the year.

Entries for the 2011 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards opened on Monday 18th April 2011, more details at



by phillip gray
08 Feb 12 at 17:09

I would like to know when submissions open for the 2012 “Unpublished Manuscript” category, and what the submissions guidelines will be. I have tried calling Sarah Reynolds at the Wheeler Centre on several occasions to ask her, but for some inexplicable reason, she has never seen fit to return any of my calls. Thank you, Phillip Gray.

by Zora
09 Feb 12 at 11:11

Hello Phillip, We’re not involved with the Prize at all I’m afraid so I don’t have any information on dates. It looks like no dates have yet been decided, judging from the website, but I’m sure there will be a formal announcement when competition opens! Thanks, Zora

by Anonymous
26 Feb 12 at 13:42

Hello Phillip,

The dates for the Victorian Premier’s Literary awards are yet to be announced. I would keep an eye on the Wheeler Centre website for more news in the next month.

Best wishes, Sarah



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