Award Categories

The Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, formerly the Writers’ Emeritus Award, acknowledges the achievements of eminent literary writers over the age of 60 who have made an outstanding and lifelong contribution to Australian literature.  

Past award recipients include David Malouf AO (2016), Thomas Keneally AO (2015), Frank Moorhouse AM (2013) and Herb Wharton (2012). 

The nominee must:

  • be an Australian writer
  • be 60 years of age or over
  • not self-nominate - nominations are accepted from other individuals and organisations
  • have produced a critically acclaimed body of work over a long creative life.


The Australia Council Don Banks Music Award honours a distinguished artist aged over 50 who has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to music in Australia.  It is named in honour of Don Banks, acclaimed Australian composer, performer and the first Chair of the Music Board.  

Past award recipients include Brett Dean (2016), Archie Roach AM (2015), Mike Nock (2014) and Kev Carmody (2013). 

The nominee must:

  • be 50 years of age or over
  • not self-nominate - nominations are accepted from other individuals and organisations
  • have made an outstanding and sustained contribution to music in Australia.


The Australia Council Visual Arts Award acknowledges the exceptional achievements of an Australian artist who has made an outstanding contribution to the development of Australian art.  Past award recipients include Richard Bell (2016), Judy Watson (2015), Fiona Foley (2014) and Tracey Moffatt (2012). 

The nominee must:

  • be an Australian craftsperson, designer, media artist, visual artist and/or arts writer
  • not self-nominate - nominations are accepted from other individuals and organisations
  • have made and is continuing to make an outstanding contribution to the development of Australian art.


Ros Bower Award is given to artists with a proven record of high achievement in community arts and cultural development, driven by the principles of equality, respect, and diversity.  It is named in honour of Ros Bower, a journalist, television producer, community arts pioneer and founding Director of Council’s first Community Arts Board. Past winners of the Ros Bower award include Lily Shearer, Lockie McDonald, Steve Payne and Alissar Chidiac,


Kirk Robson Award recognises outstanding leadership from young people working in community arts and cultural development, particularly in reconciliation and social justice.  It was established to honour Kirk Robson who tragically died in a car accident in 2005. He received the Council’s Young and Emerging Artists Initiative and was the Artistic Director of The Torch Project. Past winners of the Kirk Robson award include, Nathan Stoneham, Shakthi Shakthidharan, Jade Lillie and Alexandra Kelly.


The Australia Council Award for Emerging and Experimental Arts was introduced in 2015 to recognise the outstanding achievements and considerable contribution of an artist in the field. 

Past award recipients include Kelli McCluskey (2016) and Stelarc (2015).


The Australia Council Award for Dance was introduced in 2015 to recognise the outstanding achievements and considerable contribution of an artist in dance. 

Past award recipients include Lucy Guerin (2016) and Garry Stewart (2015).


The Australia Council Award for Theatre was introduced in 2015 to recognise the outstanding achievements and considerable contribution of an artist in theatre. 

Past award recipients include Yaron Lifschitz (2016) and Bruce Gladwin (2015).

Nominees must not self-nominate - nominations are accepted from other individuals and organisations.

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