In the year that well known children’s poet Lorraine Marwood received the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for her book Star Jumps the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards has been advised that the Federal Government has pulled the Awards lifeblood funding of $50,000.
That the Prime Minister in one high publicity stroke recognised and endorsed the value of poetry to the wider community was fantastic alas somewhat hypocritical as the Dorothea Poetry Awards were struck out of the budget for the forthcoming year. The dash of red pen’s immediate repercussion means that unless new funding is found the Awards which have been running for the last 27 years may well breathe their last next year.
The fact that the competition has survived these 27 years is a miracle in itself according to the Dorothea Mackellar Society President Phillipa Murray. She further states that funding for any volunteer organisation, let alone a project that involves old fashioned literacy and creative skills, is both competitive and difficult. Yet somehow the Awards have managed to do it.
Last year a total of 7904 entries were received from all states in Australia – so there is no lack of support on the ground for its continuance. Indeed such a large amount of entries indicates rousing support from teachers and students in state and independent schools. And whilst this article appears on the NSWAGTC’s website it is not only gifted students throughout Australia that are affected. Poetry, by its nature, is something to be appreciated and participated in by all communities and all walks of life.
In effect the demise of the Awards will ensure that the next generations of Lorraine Marwoods will have no opportunity to hone their craft on an Australia wide level, and the Prime Minister of the day will have less choices to make about the recipients of her own Awards.
It appears obvious that it is ‘lose lose’ all round.