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October 18, 2023

Helen Garner awarded 2023 ASA Medal

The Australian Society of Authors is delighted to announce the 2023 ASA Medal has been awarded to Helen Garner.

Established in 2003, the ASA Medal is awarded biennially to an Australian author or illustrator who has made an outstanding contribution to Australian culture, both as a creator and an advocate.

Helen Garner is one of Australia’s most beloved, celebrated, and admired authors, whose work has been published to acclaim for more than 40 years. Her impact on Australian literary culture is immeasurable and unparalleled.

ASA Chair Sophie Cunningham says, “Helen Garner has been integral to the Australian writing scene for decades: as a writer, as an advocate for, and mentor of, other writers, as a critic and commentator, and as a chronicler of the times. She’s an inspiration. We’re so delighted to be able to formally recognise and pay tribute to her invaluable contribution in this way.”

Helen Garner says, “This has come as a lovely surprise. I’m particularly delighted that it comes from that gritty, no-bullshit outfit the ASA, with its pragmatic understanding of what writers have to go through just to keep their heads above water.”

Garner’s literary output includes novels, stories, screenplays and works of non-fiction for which she has been widely awarded. Her debut novel, Monkey Grip was awarded the National Book Council Award in 1978, Cosmo Cosmolino was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1993, her Time feature Did Daniel Have to Die? was awarded the 1993 Walkley Award for Best Feature Writing, and The Spare Room won the 2008 Victorian Premier’s Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction, the Queensland Premier’s Fiction Book Award and the 2009 Barbara Jefferis Award.

In 2006, Garner was awarded the Melbourne Prize for Literature, in 2019 the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature and in 2020 the Lloyd O’Neil Award for Services to the Australian Book Industry at the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA).

Aside from Garner’s fearless and compelling writing, and her unique depiction of Australian people, society, and urban life in both Melbourne and Sydney, the ASA Board deeply admires Garner’s advocacy and support of other writers. Garner has generously given time to mentor other writers, and has inspired, challenged and entertained countless readers. She has lent her name and support to ASA advocacy and recently made a powerful submission to the National Cultural Policy consultation.

Garner will formally accept the Medal at the Australian Society of Authors’ Colin Simpson Memorial Keynote, which will be held in Melbourne on 14 November 2023.

About the ASA Medal

Past recipients include Bruce Pascoe, Thomas Keneally, Nadia Wheatley, Valerie Parv, Tim Winton and Anita Heiss.

Each medal is handcrafted in sterling silver by Yuwaalaraay-Gamilaraay artist Melissa Stannard. The design was inspired by the estuarine mangrove river systems local to the artist, where fresh and saltwater meet, merge and blend. These mangrove systems provide a haven of safety, serenity as well as a healing nurturing habitat for fingerlings and the next generation of other new life. The design references the supportive and uplifting work and inspirational contributions of medal recipients. We thank Melissa Stannard for her beautiful design.