RD Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Prize 2021

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 helping to shape a sustainable world – healthy people living on a healthy planet.


This is a call to writers and those who want to write!

The national competition is for people who are Australian citizens. There are three age categories for the 2021 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.



The topic for 2021 for all categories is the loss of biodiversity on Earth.

For the 2021 Writing for the Environment competition, the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre Board will accept writing that is:

  • A script for a short 10mins play. You must be able to read it aloud in 7min – as a general guide a 10mins play on stage is a script that can be read aloud in 7mins. Submissions falling outside the 7mins reading time frame will not be considered.
  • Original and on the topic of biodiversity – see below for links to recent stories and news items that may be useful with preparing your script.
  • Creative, powerful (it makes an impact on the audience) and quirky.
  • Clear in purpose and audience.

Due date

Submissions must be received by 5pm EST on Saturday, 22 May, which is International Day for Biological Diversity. Winners will be announced on the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre website in late July.


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.


Judging will be undertaken by a panel of writers, including script writers.

Submitting your work  

Please submit entries online via this link ➤ RD Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Prize 2021 Submission

Or email entries to Phil Smith directly ➤ phil@ssec.org.au

Loss of Biodiversity – some useful links

In case this is useful, here are a few links that might serve as useful starting points for your research and thinking and writing –

  • Nature’s Future, Our Future – The World Speaks – from the World Commission on Protected Areas – a compilation of quotes and extracts aims to capture a critical moment – an unprecedented call for a global transformation of human society and economies to one which recognises that to live sustainably on this finite earth we must treat the natural world as the fabric which sustains all life.


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.

  • Our winner in the 18-25 age category is Olivia Rushin for Germinate. Dakota Brown is the runner-up, with Lungs on Fire.   Highly commended, A Safe Bet, by Thompson Brinkworth.
  • Our winner in the Under 18 age category is Katrina Hayler for her story, I am. The runner-up is Laura Wrigley-Carr for The General.  Highly commended to Jessica Cash for her piece, The End.
  • 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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