The Jim Bettison And Helen James Award: Meet The Past Winners

On 11 July, we opened submissions for the fourth year of the Jim Bettison and Helen James Award. The award recognises individual Australians who have contributed exemplary and inspiring lifelong work in their area of expertise, that has benefit to the broader community. Here are some of the prestigious award’s previous winners.

Greg Mackie OAM

The inaugural 2015 winner, Greg Mackie OAM, is the founder of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas (AFoI). He’s extensively researched and developed the establishment of a “Thinking Adelaide”, and aims to enhance Adelaide’s national and international standing as a promoter and crucible of new thinking.

“It was an incredible honour to be the inaugural award recipient,” says Mackie.

“It came at a time when the Adelaide Festival of Ideas had lost its core funding, and it enabled me to regroup with supporters and ensure that a 2016 AFoI could be presented. Jim Bettison and Helen James had long supported the AFoI, and so the award was a beautiful extension of that relationship.”

Meryl Tankard

In 2016 the prize was awarded to two individuals, with one of them being distinguished dancer, choreographer and director Meryl Tankard. The award will enable Tankard to further develop passion projects that explore two themes central to her career: the transformative power of art, and the positive impact that creativity can have on physical and mental conditions.

“The Bettison James Award has provided me with the resources to archive, preserve and share my past work with future generations, and enabled me to complete the first stage of a new screen work raising the awareness of mental health,” Tankard says.

Tim Jarvis

The second recipient for 2016 was adventurer and environmental scientist Tim Jarvis. As project leader of 25zero, Jarvis’ initiative attempts to battle one of the most significant threats facing humanity: climate change.

In 2015, 25zero teams summited seven mountains in three continents during the 12 days of the United Nations Climate Change talks (COP21) in Paris, sending footage, images and stories to COP21 to push decision-makers to arrive at a meaningful agreement. This award will enable the development of astonishing footage from the climbs into new forms, including a documentary designed to highlight the danger of climate change.

Robert McFarlane

The most recent recipient is leading Australian social documentary and art photographer, Robert McFarlane. He’s been capturing defining moments of Australian life for more than half a century, with some of his most iconic shots including images of a young Indigenous activist, Charlie Perkins, at university; and The Beatles arriving in Australia. Prime Ministers, film directors, artists, surgeons, activists and workers have all appeared in front of McFarlane’s lens as he uniquely chronicled the changing face of Australia.

“During my five-decade working life as a photojournalist, it’s been a privilege to witness the evolving social, artistic and political fabric of Australia,” says McFarlane.

“I’m honoured to have been invited into such illustrious company, and for my photography to be recognised as being worthy of such an important award as this. The award is far more than just an honour, of course – it affords recipients the opportunity to continue and build on their life’s work, and that speaks to the vision, foresight and generosity of Jim Bettison and Helen James.”

Applications for this year are now open!

Submissions are invited from Australians from fields of expertise including the arts and humanities, social justice, the environment or the sciences. Submissions close 21 August 2018 and the winner will be announced at the 2018 Adelaide Film Festival. Apply here.