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Nance Donkin Award for Children’s Literature

The recipient of the 2023 Nance Donkin award is Pamela Rushby (Queensland). Congratulations to Pamela and all the nominees for 2023.

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The 2023 nominees were:

The keynote speaker for the event was Jane Cafarella  who gave a thought provoking talk on 'The Fickle Nature Of Legacy,  The Greatest Prize In Children’s Literature'. You can read her speech here.

This award was judged by Meredith Costain and Caz Goodwin. You can read their report here.

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Meredith Costain is a prolific and versatile writer from Melbourne whose work ranges from picture books through to poetry, chapter books, series fiction, novelisations and non-fiction. Her latest work includes books in the quirky, best-selling Ella Diaries series, which have been translated into many different languages and are frequently shortlisted or honoured in children’s choice awards, and its sister series, Olivia’s Secret Scribbles. Other titles include CBCA Honour Book Doodledum Dancing, Musical Harriet, which was adapted for TV by the ABC, and the non-fiction narrative series, My Life in the Wild.

Meredith enjoys presenting writing workshops to children and adults around Australia and overseas. She was an editor and writer for the Victorian Department of Education’s school magazines for over 20 years, the managing editor (and a contributing writer) of several literacy series for educational publishers, and is currently a manuscript assessor for a range of children’s literature conferences. She is also an ambassador for both Australia Reads and Oz Kids in Print. Find out more at:

Caz Goodwin

Caz Goodwin is an Australian award-winning author who writes picture books, short stories and junior fiction. Her work has been published internationally and illustrated by Sara Acton, Gus Gordon, Shaney Hyde, Pip Kruger and Kerry Millard (Australia), Ashley King (United Kingdom), Low Joo Hong (Singapore) and others. She heads the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in Victoria and is on the Young Australian Best Book Awards (YABBA) council. She is also an Australia Reads ambassador.

Caz has been the recipient of an ASA mentorship, a May Gibbs Creative Time Residential Fellowship and was a resident at the Police Point Artist in Residence Program. Caz’s books have been produced in Braille for blind and low-vision children and included in the Premier’s Reading Challenge. Her books have also featured on Sarah Ferguson’s Fergie and Friends show, CBCA Storytime, podcasts, newspapers and radio. The member profile of Caz can be found here.

Nance Donkin, AM, (1915–2008) was a pioneer and leading light in the world of Australian literature for children, especially historical fiction. Many people will fondly remember reading The Maidens of Pefka, Patchwork Grandmother, Johnny Neptune and Yellow Gum Gil; her retelling of We of the Never, Never for children; and the series of books about life in Australia, including Sheep and Sugar. While some of her books seem dated now, having been published over sixty years ago, Nance’s legacy endures.

Nance began her writing career at the age of sixteen as the Maitland Daily Mercury’s first female journalist. She moved to the Newcastle Herald and later, having married and settled in Melbourne, continued her career in journalism on ABC radio and television.

Alongside journalism, Nance was a prolific writer of children’s books and she was actively involved in a number of organisations. As president of the Victorian branch of the Children’s Book Council from 1967–1975, she initiated a period of development, pushing for travel grants to enable authors to visit country schools, and to the Society of Women Writers Victoria she was greatly valued as a long-term member, supporter and benefactor.

Nance was a reader and a writer who held strong feminist and political views. She opened her mind to current issues and was not afraid to challenge those she did not agree with. Through her series of CAE lectures of women in Australia history, Nance was able to bring to light previously overlooked and unrecognised women. These lectures resulted in two books about the roles of women.

In 1986, Nance was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the community in the fields of children’s literature and adult education and in 1990, she was awarded the Society’s prestigious Alice Award.

With the support of Nance’s family after her death, the Society of Women Writers Victoria established the biennial Nance Donkin Award for Children’s Literature, a fitting memorial to her contribution to the children of Australia and validation of the importance of writing for children.

The Award itself is a statuette of a child sitting beneath a tree and reading a book, imagined, designed and crafted by sculptor Lisa Herbert. It was first awarded to Dr Ruth Starke in 2009, and since then, has been awarded to Isobelle Carmody, Cassandra Golds, Roseanne Hawke, Anna Walker and Dianne Wolfer.

By Dr Caroline Webber, President, Society of Women Writers Victoria


Previous Winners

How to Enter

The Nance Donkin award for children’s literature is run biennially. The details of the next award will be announced in 2025. Nominations from other branches are received from June until August. Judging occurs from August to October and winners are announced in October.

Key Dates

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