Established in 2016, the $30,000 Mona Brand Award is presented every two years to an outstanding Australian woman – cis, trans, non-binary inclusive - writing for the stage or screen.
As well as this major prize for a body of work, the Early Career Writer Award, valued at $10,000, is presented to a woman writer who is in the early stages of her/their career for her/their first professionally produced, screened or broadcast work.
This is the only award of its kind in Australia and was made possible through a bequest to the State Library of NSW Foundation by the late Mona Fox nee Brand (1915–2007) a trailblazing Australian poet, author and a prolific playwright of nearly 30 plays. Her work, which often addressed socially relevant and controversial topics has been performed on stage, radio and television in Australia and overseas.
In 2002 the Library acquired her papers, including correspondence, diaries, manuscripts photographs, recordings and many other records of her remarkable life and career. As the custodian of this important collection it is fitting that the State Library administers and presents this Award, which not only honours the rich legacy Mona Brand imparted but celebrates the best of contemporary writing by Australian women.
Helen Bowden is one of Australia’s most prolific and highly awarded drama producers. Recent credits include: Lambs of God (Winner of the 2019 Best Mini-series AACTA) starring Ann Dowd, Essie Davis and Jessica Barden for Foxtel; Upright starring Tim Minchin for Foxtel and Sky UK; and The Secrets She Keeps starring Laura Carmichael, Jessica de Gouw and Michael Dorman for Network Ten. She has also produced On the Ropes, Wake in Fright, Devil’s Playground (Winner of the 2015 Best Mini-series AACTA and Logie) and The Slap (Winner of the 2010 Best Mini-series AACTA and Logie).
Helen was a founder of Matchbox Pictures, which formed in 2008 and sold to NBCUniversal in early 2014. Helen then formed Lingo Pictures with Jason Stephens (ex Fremantle Media) in 2015. She is the Managing Director.
Zainab is a Pakistani Poet and Producer. Her practice sits at the intersection of social justice and live performance. After graduating from Brown University, USA she toured across the world performing poetry and teaching writing to incarcerated women and trauma victims until 2017. From 2017-2021, Zainab worked at Performing Lines WA as a Producer spearheading ambitious new works of scale by independent dance and theatre artists as well as the 2020 & 2021 Kolyang Creative Hub and Artist Labs, capacity building Initiatives to facilitate pathways and cohesion within the WA arts sector. In June 2021, she joined Belvoir St Theatre as a Producer.
Her work has focused on facilitating intercultural collaborations, developing inclusive frameworks for creating new work and pathways for culturally diverse artists, enabling systemic change within institutions as well as supporting Australian artists and stories to tour regionally, nationally and internationally. Zainab is a member of the Theatre Network Australia Board and Deputy Chair of The Blue Room Theatre board. She is a 2020 Churchill Fellow, founder of Pakistan Poetry Slam and a Humanitarian Observer with the Australian Red Cross Immigration Detention Program.
Dr Romaine Moreton
Dr Romaine Moreton is Goenpul Yagerabul Minjungbul Bundjalung from Tjerangeri (Stradbroke Island) and what is now northern New South Wales. Romaine is the Director of First Nations & Outreach at AFTRS. She is an internationally recognised writer of poetry, prose, and film. While a Research Fellow Filmmaker in Residence at Monash, she completed the powerful transmedia work One Billion Beats, that examined the historical representation of Aboriginal people in Australian cinema. Prior to that, she was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Newcastle and worked on a project about Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property in the digital space. With Dr Lou Bennett, Romaine has been working closely with AFTRS over the last two years on a first-of-its-kind Indigenous Curriculum for screen and broadcast, focussed through the lens of ethics and aesthetics.
Hear from Robyn Nevin AM, patron of the award, on why the Mona Brand Award is significant.