Prize-winners announced in The Good Oil 2021 Writers’ Award

The Good Oil 2021 Writers’ Award was launched by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan with the dual purpose of supporting and encouraging the development of emerging and published writers.

Close to 70 entries were received from writers in Australia and the Philippines, with interest from as far afield as the United States.

Entrants were asked to explore the theme Inclusivity in their chosen writing style:

  • Reflection – creative writing, including poetry, or first person reflective writing
  • Opinion – first person personal opinion
  • Profile – profile of a person based on an interview and research
  • News feature – issues-based article written in journalistic style

The judging panel of Monica Dutton, Janette Mentha and Kerry Myers brought their considerable experience as writers and editors to the task. They based their decisions on the entries that best explored the theme Inclusivity. They looked for writing that was topical, engaging, accessible, creative, original, and well written.

The judges awarded first prize ($600), second prize ($400) and two highly commended ($100 each).

Congratulations to John Haren for his winning entry, ‘Inclusivity – a political challenge’. John has been engaged in the community sector for more than 30 years, including eight years as CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society in South Australia.

Second prize was awarded to Ashleigh Donnelly for her entry ‘A letter to my nine-month-old daughter’. Ashleigh is a social worker who has worked with youth at risk and adults living with intellectual disabilities.

Highly commended were Carmel Lillis for ‘Parable for the 21st Century’ and Heather MacKenzie for ‘Parable for a pandemic’.

What the judges said about John Haren’s winning entry:

“This entry is a commentary on Australia’s response to refugees and asylum seekers. The topic of inclusivity is examined in a perceptive and insightful manner, in light of the implications of Australia’s uncompromising position. The piece is informative, persuasive and well written.”

“A moving and well-balanced article on the current situation of asylum seekers denied their most basic rights. The writer gives a balanced view of how Australia has been part of the inclusion process in the past and challenges the government to respond yet again. In summarising, the writer says that the Good Samaritan found a way to overcome prejudice and misgivings. Why can’t we? A powerful message of inclusivity.”

“This is a piece dripping with topicality that reminds us that ‘our best human moments are inclusive’. It is a wake-up call that while politics are in play, we have a role in influencing better outcomes, should we embrace the actions of the Good Samaritan.”

What the judges said about Ashleigh Donnelly’s entry:

“This entry likens mask wearing during COVID-19 times to the masks people adopt to protect themselves from social exclusion. Using stories of marginalised people as future life-lessons for her daughter, the piece is written from the heart with simplicity, wisdom and grace.”

“This is a poignant work that urges us all to look behind the masks that all of us wear from time to time so we can appreciate the person behind the covering. It is a reminder that sometimes inclusivity only comes when we are prepared to work at it.”

The first and second prize-winning entries were published in this month’s edition of The Good Oil. Both highly commended entries will be published in the December 2021 edition. Thank you to everyone who submitted entries.

The Good Oil’s editorial vision is to nourish the spirit, stimulate thinking, promote social justice, and encourage reflection and dialogue about issues of the day from a Christian, Catholic, Good Samaritan perspective.

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