Fifteen experts make up the judging panels for the 2018 Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

The judging panels recommend shortlists and winners across each of the categories. The Prime Minister makes the final decision.

Non-fiction and History panel

Professor Lynette Russell FRHistS, FASSA (Chair)

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Professor Lynette Russell is the current president of the Australian Historical Association. She is a historian who combines anthropology, archaeology, museum studies and the history of science into her research.  She is widely published and is the author numerous books, specialising in Australian and Aboriginal history. She has held fellowships at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and she is a member of the Academy Social Sciences Australia.

Helen Trinca

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Helen Trinca is managing editor at The Australian newspaper, and editor of the paper's monthly business magazine, The Deal. She has had a long career in media and was previously a deputy editor, a leader writer and European correspondent at the paper. She is the co-author of two non-fiction books, Waterfront: The battle that changed Australia (2000) and Better than Sex: How a whole generation got hooked on work (2004). She co-shared the Prime Minister's award for non-fiction for her biography, Madeleine: A life of Madeleine St John (2013).

Emeritus Professor Richard Waterhouse FAHA, FASSA

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Richard Waterhouse is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Sydney. He was formerly Bicentennial Professor of Australian History and Head of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the same institution. He has held visiting professorships at Ludwig Maximilian University (Munich) and the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). He holds a First Class honours degree in History from the University of Sydney and MA and PhD degrees from Johns Hopkins University. He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities in 2005 and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences in 2006.

He has published five books and more than 70 chapters and articles on aspects of United States and Australian social and cultural history. His books include Private Pleasures, Public Leisure: a history of Australian popular culture since 1788 (1995), and The Vision Splendid: a social and cultural history of rural Australia (2005). In the public sphere he has acted as consultant to the National Museum of Australia and the National Maritime Museum as well as serving as consultant to a number of Australian history documentaries, including The Years That Made Us (2013). He was also one of the authors of the report, Securing Australia’s Agriculture Future (2015), written as one of the Securing Australia’s Future series under the auspices of the Australian Council of Learned Academies.

Professor Greg Melleuish

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Greg Melleuish is Professor of Politics and History at the University of Wollongong. He was educated at Woy Woy High School, the University of Sydney and Macquarie University. He is married with two daughters and three grandsons. Greg has written seven books and monographs, the most recent of which is Despotic State or Free Individual (2014). He writes on both matters political and historical, and has written for a variety of magazines and journals, including Telos, Quadrant, the Dorchester Review, the Australian, and The Conversation. In his younger days he also published a poem in the Bulletin.

Dr Sally Warhaft

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Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer and the host of the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, The Fifth Estate. She is a former editor of The Monthly magazine and the author of the best selling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia (2004). She is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a Phd in Anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

Fiction and Poetry panel

Associate Professor Bronwyn Lea (Chair)

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Bronwyn Lea is Associate Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of Queensland. Her books of poetry include Flight Animals (2001) and The Other Way Out (2008), which won the South Australian Premier's Literary Award for Poetry and the Western Australian Premier's Book Award, and most recently The Deep North (2012). Her poems have been widely anthologised, most recently in Australian Poetry Since 1788Thirty Australian PoetsSixty Classic Australian Poems, and The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry. She is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo and MacDowell colonies, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, Asialink, and the Australia Council for the Arts. She was the founding editor of The Best Australian Poetry  series, the inaugural editor of Australian Poetry Journal, and is the current poetry editor at Meanjin.

Kathy Shand

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Kathy Shand has a Bachelor of Arts and Laws from the University of Sydney. She has worked in New York and Sydney in both publishing and the media. She was the co-owner/publisher of the Australian Jewish News from 1992 until 2007. She worked as a book editor for Bay Books before becoming the founding Editor of Nine to Five magazine. She spent a number of years at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. She has extensive involvement with not for profits including the Boards of the Royal Hospital for Women and the Sydney Childrens’ Hospital, Randwick. She was appointed to the Board of the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2013.

Dr James Ley

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Dr James Ley was the inaugural Editor of Sydney Review of Books and is now its Contributing Editor. His essays and criticism have appeared in many publications, including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Times Literary Supplement and Australian Book Review. In 2014, he was awarded the Geraldine Pascall Prize for Australian Critic of the Year. He is the author of The Critic in the Modern World: Public Criticism from Samuel Johnson to James Wood (2014).

Susan Wyndham

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Susan Wyndham is a journalist and writer with a long involvement in the Australian literary world. She has been editor of Good Weekend magazine, New York correspondent for The Australian, a deputy editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and most recently the Herald's literary editor. She is the author of Life in His Hands: The True Story of a Neurosurgeon and a Pianist (2008), contributing editor of My Mother, My Father: On Losing a Parent (2013), and a contributor to other books including the recent anthologies Rebellious Daughters (2016), edited by Maria Katsonis and Lee Kofman, and Unbreakable (2017), edited by Jane Caro.

Sarah Holland-Batt

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Sarah Holland-Batt’s most recent book of poems, The Hazards (2015) won the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry, and was shortlisted for a number of other prizes. She is the recipient of the W.G. Walker Memorial Fulbright Scholarship, and fellowships at MacDowell and Yaddo colonies in the United States and the B.R. Whiting Studio in Rome, among other honours. She is the editor of The Best Australian Poems 2017 (2017), and works as the Poetry Editor of Island and as a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Queensland University of Technology. She is presently a Sidney Myer Creative Fellow.


Children’s Literature and Young Adult Literature Panel

Professor Margot Hillel OAM (Chair)

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Professor Margot Hillel OAM is Chair of the Academic Board at Australian Catholic University. She has had a wide and varied involvement in the field of children’s literature over many years. She is a former President of the Australasian Children’s Literature Association for Research and is currently Chair of the Board of the Children's Book Council of Australia. She has judged many literary awards, is the joint editor of four collections of short stories, has co-written several books on using books with children and published regularly in scholarly journals on various aspects of children’s literature. Her research interests focus on constructions of childhood, especially in children’s literature, and how these constructions influence societal attitudes to children; and the history of children’s literature. She is on the editorial boards of a number of international journals, and has presented at conferences in many countries as well as in Australia.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts and a PhD and in 2000 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to children’s literature through teaching, research and community service.

Joy Lawn

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Joy Lawn writes the young adult literature column for the Weekend Australian. Her work has also appeared in Australian Book Review, The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age and Books+Publishing. She has been a judge of the Children’s Book Council of Australia and Aurealis Awards and chair of the children’s book judging panels of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and Queensland Literary Awards. She has taught a children’s/young adult’s literature course at the University of Southern Queensland and been a literature consultant for independent bookstores. She blogs about children’s and young adult literature and literary fiction for Boomerang Books and some of her favourite times of the year are spent chairing sessions at the Sydney and Brisbane Writers’ Festivals. She has an MA in Children’s Literature and Literacy.

Kerry Neary

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Kerry has been formally involved in children’s literature for almost 35 years; and informally for almost as many years before that. The change in focus came with a realignment of career from maths-science teaching to teacher librarian in secondary education. Kerry is a strong supporter of critical analysis, reading promotion, and interacting with the community, as his way of encouraging children’s reading and family reading culture. He has reviewed children’s books since 1990 through various print, radio and digital instruments. His radio reviewing segment on Brisbane’s 4MS Classic Radio has been continuous for 23 years. Between 1993 and 2018 he judged the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year several times; and in 2009 he was a judge for the children’s section of the Aurealis Awards. He continues to be involved in voluntary projects concerned with promoting children’s literature and family reading. At the moment his major focus is in curating exhibitions of illustrations from children’s books for showing in local public libraries.

Professor Robyn Ewing AM

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Initially a primary teacher, Robyn Ewing AM is Professor of Teacher Education and the Arts, Sydney School of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney. She lectures in curriculum, English, children’s literature and literacy and drama across pre-service and postgraduate teacher education programs. Her teaching, research and extensive publications include a focus on the importance of children’s literature in our lives and literacy development. Since 2009 Robyn has worked in partnership with Sydney Theatre Company on the School Drama teacher professional learning program to develop primary teachers’ confidence and expertise in using drama strategies with quality literary texts. She is a board member of WestWords, a former chair and judge of the children’s panels, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. A past president of the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association and the Primary English Teachers Association Australia, in 2015 Robyn was made a member of the Order of Australia. She is a recipient of the Lady Cutler Award for distinguished service to children’s literature.

Sue Whiting

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Sue Whiting is a former primary school teacher with a special interest in literacy education and children’s literature, and has worked in the publishing industry for almost twenty years, both as an author and editor of books for children and young adults.She has written numerous books in a variety of genres: fiction and nonfiction, picture books through to young adult, and is published in Australia and internationally. Her middle grade novel Get a Grip, Cooper Jones (2010) was a 2011 CBCA Notable Book, and her picture book, A Swim in the Sea (2013), illustrated by Meredith Thomas, was the Speech Pathologists’ 2014 Book of the Year, 3–5 years category. Her latest book Platypus (2015) illustrated by Mark Jackson was a 2016 CBCA Notable Book.

She was Publishing Manager and Senior Commissioning Editor at Walker Books Australia for ten years, before leaving in 2016 to concentrate on her writing and to work from home as a freelance editor, writing coach and publishing consultant. She is also a tutor and presenter for the Australian Writers’ Centre.