An essay competition has been launched to honour the work and memory of the late Professor Gavin Mooney, a health economist who was a tireless advocate for social justice in local, national and international arenas.

The Gavin Mooney Memorial Essay Competition is a joint project of the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, the public health blog Croakey, and Inside Story, an online current affairs publication from the Swinburne Institute for Social Research.

Each year the competition calls for entries related to a theme around equity and social justice. The inaugural competition had the theme of climate change and equity, in recognition of the work of Professor Mooney’s late partner Dr Delys Weston.

The winning entry in 2013, by Dr Tim Senior, Climate change and equity: whose language is it anyway?, was published at Inside Story, and the five best essays were published in this free e-book.

NSW freelance writer El Gibbs won the 2014 competition with an essay titled, A place to call home: housing security and mental health, which has been published at Inside Story.

The 2014 topic was: The social and cultural determinants of mental health: collective responsibilities; individualism; austerity; entitlements.

The 2015 topic is: “In the digital era, whose voices are being heard?”

Entries close on October 1, and the winner will be announced by the end of November 2015.

Entry is open to anyone, in Australia or overseas, whether academics, writers, journalists or citizens.

The winner receives a prize of $5,000 donated by the Sydney School of Public Health, and publication at Inside Story. The University of Sydney may also publish the essay as part of a series of mini e-books arising from the competition.

As well as honouring the work and writings of Professor Mooney, the competition seeks to draw public attention to social justice and health equity concerns, and to recognise the public interest value of writing and writers.

Professor Glenn Salkeld, the head of the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, announced the competition as many of Gavin’s colleagues gathered in Sydney for the 9th World Congress on Health Economics in July 2013.

He said the prize will encourage people to speak out on an issue that is of universal importance to Australians and people across the world.  

“Inside Story is delighted to be involved in this important initiative,” said editor Peter Browne. “We believe the prize will contribute to a greater awareness of the importance of intelligent and engaging coverage of health issues in the Australian media. The choice of climate change and equity as the first topic reflects the complexity of the challenges facing countries like Australia in the coming decades.”

Health journalist Melissa Sweet said Professor Mooney had been a prolific contributor to the public health blog Croakey, writing dozens of articles on issues ranging from Indigenous health to health policy, global health and citizen’s juries (more details are here).

“We need more people like Gavin who are prepared to wield the power of the pen in the interests of creating fairer, more sustainable societies,” she said.



• An essay of not more than 5,000 words exploring the topic, at a local, national or international level.

• Entry is open to anyone, anywhere.

• This is not intended to be an academic publication. Please write for a general audience (although you are welcome to provide references).

• Entries must not have been previously published. The winning entry will be published at the online publication, Inside Story.

• Entries should be mailed to

Gavin Mooney Memorial Essay Competition
Executive Assistant, Room 319
Sydney School of Public Health
Edward Ford Building A27
University of Sydney NSW 2006

• Electronic entries will not be accepted.



Entries will be de-identified and will be collated by a staffer at the Sydney School of Public Health who is not involved in the judging.

Each entry should be accompanied by a 2-page cover sheet as outlined below. The author’s details should be mentioned only on the first page of the cover sheet – and not elsewhere on the entry.

Judging criteria include:

  • The work is disruptive i.e. challenging or prompting change in status quo.
  • The work incorporates novel ideas or approaches or thinking or style.
  • The work is telling stories that matter.
  • The quality of the writing.****

Please copy and paste the information below to use as entry forms and cover sheets 

Cover Sheet Page 1






Please provide a short biographical statement (no more than 250 words)




I verify that this is my own, original work.








Cover Sheet Page 2 (Please do not include your name or any other identifying material on this page as it will be forwarded to the judges)

Please provide a short statement about the essay, and how it meets the judging criteria (less than 400 words).



Essay Archives

2013 E-Book of five top essays including the winning entry.

2014 E-Book of five top essays including the winning entry.