RD Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Prize

Sutherland Shire Environment Centre holds an annual, national Writing for the Environment prize in honour of our founder, Bob Walshe, who passed away in March 2018.

Writing was a passion and a skill of Bob’s. He taught and inspired many people to write and write and write!  And he believed writing was an important tool in the work of building a sustainable world.

Bob was an educator, historian, journalist, and environmentalist. He authored many books on history, English, and writing, and he wrote articles on the environment for many years for the newspaper Shire Life, and for a number of other environmental magazines. Bob produced Australia’s first global warming poster for the Commonwealth Government in the late 1980s. The origins of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre are proudly traced back to writing courses Bob ran in the Sutherland Shire.

Through the R D Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Prize, Sutherland Shire Environment Centre continues to value the role and place of the art of writing in bringing about change – in issues of social justice and environment.  Writing offers a chance to reflect on these problems and their causes, as well as on the solutions and their causes. A good piece of writing can shift minds and hearts; it can move hands. The intention of this year’s competition is to attract quality writing that can inspire or inform or incite change towards a more peaceful and sustainable world – healthy people living on a healthy planet.

Peace and Sustainability: the 2022 Writing for the Environment Prize theme

Wars in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Syria, Yemen… Ideological wars. Civil wars.  Wars on terror. Wars on drugs. Insurgencies. Skirmishes. Power struggles within government. Assassination attempts on politicians. Assassination of peace activists or opposition party leaders. State against external state, faction against internal faction. Wars by governments on their own peoples and environment.

Conflict – whether large scale wars or struggles within borders – kills efforts to repair, protect or maintain the quality of the local environment. Thoughts and actions that might have once focused on social justice, humanitarian support, environmental protection are squashed, are put to the side, are relegated last in priority. Victory is the prevailing goal and value. Perhaps to be more accurate, victory-at-all-costs controls mind, money and manpower in too many places around the world.

Destructive conflict at some level is, sadly, inevitable. But without some level of peace and security, it is fanciful to think of building a sustainable world – a world worth living in. So this is the context, and the 2022 Sutherland Shire Environment Centre’s national Writing for the Environment competition invited writers – or those who want to write – to submit a fictional piece of prose on the topic of peace and sustainability.


There were three age categories for the 2022 competition:

  1. Up to 18 years
  2. 19-25 years
  3. Over 65

Note: The submission form asks for your birthdate. Your age on the closing day of the competition is the age that counts.

Submission Criteria

This national competition is open to Australian citizens only. For the 2022 Writing for the Environment competition, the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre will accept writing that is:

  • A piece of fictional prose that is no more than 800 words in length (pieces that go beyond the word limit will not be considered)
  • Original and on the theme
  • Creative, powerful (it makes an impact on the reader) and quirky
  • Clear in purpose


There are prizes in each age category.

  • * First prize $500
  • * Runner-up $100
  • In addition, the Sutherland Shire Writers Group has offered a prize of $100 for a junior writer. The prize is called the Pat Strong Award for a Young Writer.  Pat Strong was a foundation member of the Sutherland Shire Writers Group – the group Bob Walshe set up 50 years ago.


2022 Winners Announced

The 2022 RD Walshe Writing for the Environment competition attracted more than 120 entries across the three age categories.  All States and Territories in Australia were represented!  Writers threw their best ideas and writing skills at the topic, Peace and Sustainability.  The topic resonated with each writer with some looking at conflict at national and global levels, while others looked at conflict at more personal and internal levels.  All drew the link between peace and possibilities for a sustainable world.  Many of the pieces were moving.  The winning entries moved the minds and hearts of the judges.  

I thank the judges for taking on the tough job of determining the best submissions. Some of our judges have been doing this for a few years. Thank you all. Thanks Alex, Lily, Dave, Sally, Ricki, Barbara, Syd, Verity, Laura. 

Up to and including 18 year old writers

This year, we have decided to have joint winners rather than winner and runner-up. 

Joint Winners

Lucinda Carr of Melbourne, Victoria – She feels

Emma Guthrie of Prahran, Victoria – Steel and Sunflowers

Each will receive $300 

Special award: The Pat Strong Award for a Young Writer from the Sutherland Shire Writers Group for young and inspiring writers: 

Lucy Tinapple of Milner, Northern Territory – Giant

Lucy will receive $100

For the 19-25 year old writers

Winner: Naomi Davidson of North Hobart, Tasmania – Alone

Naomi will receive $500. 

We have added and extra runner-up this year! 

Runners-up: Rosie Watts of Thornbury, Victoria – Mycelium

Grace Anderson of St Kilda, Victoria – How to create a sustainable future in the Absence of Stability 

Each will receive $100  

For the over 65 year old writers

Winner: June Hopkins – The Microcosm

June will receive $500 

Runner-up: Mary-Jane Gibson of Lismore, New South Wales – The Day the War Began

Mary-Jane will receive $100



Previous years

We have had some amazing entries over the previous years. In 2020 one of our judges, Pam Cook, a published author, said this:

All entries were of a very high standard and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them. I truly hope these writers continue developing their talents and I do think the Earth is in good hands if the sentiments expressed in these pieces are indicative of the attitudes of our young in relation to caring for the Earth. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read these fabulous pieces of writing.

In 2020 the Award attracted over 80 entries. The topic was I am Earth.

  • You can read the top ten stories from our 2020 writing competition here
  • https://www.ssec.org.au/writing-for-the-environment-award-2020/

    • The inaugural Pat Strong Award – $100 for a junior writer, thanks to the Sutherland Shire Writers Group, was awarded to Charlee Rose Murtough-Coombes with her story, Tired, Tired Earth.

    For 2019 the topic  was Writing to Change the World. 


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