At a Sydney Writer’s Festival-linked event, hosted by Macquarie Banking and Financial Services this morning, the winners of the inaugural The Footpath Library and Macquarie Bank Short Story competition were announced.
Patron of The Footpath Library, esteemed journalist and author, Peter FitzSimons AM, welcomed the winners and guests. “The Short Story competition is an initiative of The Footpath Library, a charity that aims to make books more accessible to the homeless and disadvantaged members of our society, change our attitudes to these people and encourage literacy. It is wonderful that Macquarie have been such supporters of both writers and this great charity. I’ve been the Patron of The Footpath Library now for five years as I believe words have the power to change lives and we are changed in some way by the stories we read.
“The theme of the Short Story competition was homelessness and the entries showed that homelessness can affect anyone at any time, when circumstances beyond someone’s control, mental illness, domestic violence or a breakdown in communication, creates situations that can’t be managed alone. The simple act of reaching out to the homeless and disadvantaged members of our community makes a world of difference.”
The Judging Panel, respected ABC radio journalist and author Richard Glover, contemporary indigenous author – Dr Anita Heiss and Zora Sanders, editor of the prestigious literary magazine Meanjin, had over 180 entries from around Australia. As Chair of the Judging Panel, Richard Glover said of the judging process,:
“We found ourselves delighted by the quality of the stories and often moved by their content. There was great vividness to many entries and a real willingness to imaginatively enter the world of the homeless.
“While there could only be a handful of winners, the high overall standard of the entries shows both the health of creative writing in Australia and the widespread desire to engage with the issue of homelessness.”
In announcing the overall winner, Kathryn Freeman with her story entitled We held hands, Richard commented that “The judges just loved Kathryn Freeman’s story “We Held Hands”, a beautifully constructed and evocative story of unexpected friendship, with charming humor that stayed in the mind long after reading. It’s a wonderful story.”
Second and third place went to Sarah-Janes Collins with her story, Boxed In, and Michael Adams, with Start to Finish.
A total of $2,000 in cash prizes was awarded to the three place getters. The winner’s story will be published in the September quarter edition of Meanjin, Australia’s pre-eminent literary magazine.
While handing over the prizes to the winners Macquarie Banking and Financial Services Group executive Noel Yeates outlined the reasons for its support of The Footpath Library.
“The Macquarie Banking and Financial Services Group believes that by making the written word accessible to everyone, in all of the communities in which we operate, we might be able to make a difference. We are pleased to partner with The Footpath Library which is making a difference among some of the people in our community who are most in need.
We look forward to supporting the competition in following years and supporting The Footpath Library in its efforts to enrich the lives of homeless and disadvantaged children, families and individuals in our community.”
Carole Ferguson, a Director of The Footpath Library, commented at the award ceremony:
“We are delighted with the number of entries in this, the first year of the competition and congratulate the winners. We also want to thank all entrants for the excellence of their work and their genuine attempts to understand and highlight the issue of homelessness. For us though, we continue to be troubled by homelessness and the increase of it in our society. The new statistics issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics from the 2011 Census indicate that the rate of homelessness in Australia was 49 persons for every 10,000 persons, up 8% from 45 persons in 2006.
“These are not just people living on the street of course- but people who are “hidden” from society’s view – couch surfing, in hostels or refuges, or in motels or cars. We continue to service these people and are also deeply concerned that our customers are younger – that families are often homeless, and that with the economy tightening post the Budget, more people will join the ranks of the long term homeless, as little has been allocated to alleviate this issue.
“We thank and commend Macquarie for their initiative in being involved with us in this new competition and also for their commitment to continuing their support for the future. We look forward to next year’s competition!”
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Macquarie Banking and Financial Services Group
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