Bushfire essay short-listed for Alfred Deakin Award

Bushfire-ravaged countryside in Steels Creek, near Kinglake. Photo: Simon Mossman, AAP Image. Source: Inside Story.

Tom Griffiths’ essay on the Victorian bushfires, ‘We have still not lived long enough’, has been short-listed for the Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public Debate, and described as ‘the essay all Australians should read’. Griffiths’ research on Victorian fire history has been supported this year by the Thomas Foundation and a special grant from the ANU Vice-Chancellor, which has enabled the development of a collaborative project involving the ANU, the National Museum of Australia and fire-affected communities.

The Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public Debate is offered for a published essay by an Australian author that contributes to the national debate by the quality of its writing. The essay can be published in a print or electronic journal, newspaper or book form.

Judge’s citation

‘We Have Still Not Lived Long Enough’ by Tom Griffiths (published by ‘Inside Story’, February 2009)

Written in the immediate aftermath of the 2009 Victorian fires (first published 16 February), this lucid, elegant essay responds intelligently and with compassion to the tragedy. In economical and engaging prose, Griffiths brings fine scholarship to bear on our human relationship to a very particular physical landscape, while also deftly locating the Victorian fires in their historical, environmental, climatic and geographic context. Ever dispassionate, Griffiths is able to draw clear policy lessons without acrimony or finger pointing. This is the essay all Australians should read if they wish to understand a particular catastrophe, learn about the precedents, and grasp both the particular circumstances of one Australian region and the general environmental responsibilities of all citizens.

For full details, see http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/programs/literary/pla/adprize/shortlist_winner_2009.html

Read the essay at Inside Story: We Have Still Not Lived Long Enough