The Bettison and James Award

Nominations for The Jim Bettison and Helen James Award for 2019 open Wed 9 October and close Wed 27 November. The recipient will be notified on 6 December and the Award will be announced on Wed 8 January 2020.



The Bettison and James Foundation

Nomination Form


Recognising achievement and supporting individuals to continue lifelong work of benefit to the Australian community.

The Bettison and James Award has been established to recognise that many Australians have contributed exemplary and inspiring lifelong work of high achievement and benefit; and that the completion, extension, recording and/or dissemination of such work would have benefits for both the individual concerned and for the wider Australian community.

On an annual basis, it is hoped that the Award, which is provided in recognition of achievement, will provide the beneficiary with further time for activity that may continue to inspire, enrich and be of benefit to the community. Each year, the award will give $50,000 to a recipient who has contributed significantly in their area of expertise – which might include, among others, the arts and humanities, social justice, the environment or the sciences.

The Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation was established to realise the vision of Dr Jim Bettison and Ms Helen James, who were committed to supporting a wide range of activity in the community through philanthropy and professional engagement.  Jim co-founded Codan, a successful and award-winning Adelaide company, established the Developed Image Photographic Gallery and served as Deputy Chancellor at the University of Adelaide. Helen was an exhibiting studio artist. She served on various key arts committees and was a founding member of the National Library of Australia’s Foundation Board.

Helen and Jim envisioned an Award that would be given annually to an individual whose lifetime work is of significant value and benefit to the community; and who could use the opportunity offered by the award to record, archive or extend that work; or to complete a project related to that work.

The recipient may have any area of expertise that may encompass, among others, the arts and humanities, social justice, science, the environment or sciences generally. A recipient must be demonstrably established in their field, discipline or sector in Australia, and must have engaged in a lifetime of work that is of significant value and benefit to the community.

The Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation is working with the Adelaide Film Festival to facilitate the Bettison and James Award, commencing in 2015 with an award to be given each year.

Adelaide Film Festival is delighted to join this partnership with the Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation and present an Award in honour of the vision and passion of Jim Bettison and Helen James.

Adelaide Film Festival aims to garner innovative partnerships and collaborate to create opportunities for Australian key thinkers and practitioners. This is done through the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund enabling bold new Australian screen stories, and through the Adelaide Film Festival presentation of the events that provide a deeper and more rigorous understanding of the way we live now and how we could live in the future.

The Jim Bettison and Helen James Award Advisory Committee for the Foundation will review all submissions and based on eligibility and strength of application, one or more recipients will be selected per year and will receive $50,000.

Perpetual acts as trustee for the Foundation.

Bettison and James Award Guidelines 2019

  • Nominee must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident residing in Australia.
  • The Award is only available for individuals.
  • Candidates for the Award may be invited or nominated by a third party.
  • We ask all recipients of the Award to seek advice on the mitigation of tax related to the award.
  • The Recipient may be invited to present a paper or speak about their lifetime work and achievements and about their ongoing projects related to that work.
  • The decision of the Selection Committee remains final and no further correspondence will be entered into.
  • The Adelaide Film Festival is the Bettison and James Award Administrator.
  • Questions about the Award may be directed to the Adelaide Film Festival:
    phone (08) 8394 2505 or email

Past Recipients

2018 – Jackie Huggins

Jackie Huggins, AM FAHA, a Bidjara / Birri-Gubba Juru woman from Queensland, was announced as the 2018 recipient of the Bettison and James Award in early 2019. Her phenomenal body of work has seen her make dynamic and highly significant contributions to the wider Australian community for more than four decades. Working extensively across academic, government and community spheres, Dr Huggins has published widely on Australian Indigenous issues, and in particular on history and women’s studies. She has served on many committees, advisory boards, inquiries and commissions, notably in the areas of Reconciliation, Indigenous education and employment, domestic and family violence, the prison and corrections system, constitutional reform and philanthropy. Dr Huggins is currently the co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the peak organisation representing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Bettison and James Award will assist Dr Huggins in pursuing her chosen project to research and write a book on the social impacts surrounding the history of Aboriginal soldiers in both World Wars – soldiers who went to war without their people being citizens of their own country.

The book will tell a story of great significance nationally, and also to Dr Huggins personally, coming from an Aboriginal family with a military service background. Her grandfather, John Henry Huggins I, served in World War 1 and was wounded twice in Belgium. Her father, John Henry Huggins II, was a POW in World War 2 on the Thailand-Burma Railway. He died at the age of 38 from his war injuries, leaving her mother to raise four children on her own. To further her research, Dr Huggins travelled to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore in February 2019 in a delegation of Aboriginal descendants of POWS as part of an Australian War Memorial project.

2017 – Robert McFarlane

Robert McFarlane has been capturing defining moments of Australian life for more than half a century. From his early work in the 1960s capturing the now iconic images of a young Indigenous activist Charlie Perkins at university and the Beatles arriving in Australia, McFarlane went on to photograph many historical Australian moments both big and small over the subsequent decades. Prime Ministers, film directors, Go-Go dancers, artists, surgeons, activists and workers, all have found themselves in front of McFarlane’s lens as he uniquely chronicled the changing face of Australia.

In addition to almost constant publication in Australian print media, McFarlane has worked for a number of leading Australian Theatre companies and was the stills photographer for more than 30 films including Puberty Blues, The Year My Voice Broke, and Muriel’s Wedding. He has written extensively on photography as contributor for more than 20 books and catalogues, as a critic for The Australian and more recently, The Sydney Morning Herald. His work alongside leading Indigenous photographers such as Ricky Maynard and Michael Riley for the landmark project, and book, After 200 Years remains one of his proudest achievements.

McFarlane’s photographs are held in the National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, National Film & Sound Archive, Art Gallery Of South Australia, Art Gallery Of New South Wales, and numerous private collections. In 2017 he was the subject of Mira Soulio’s documentary The Still Point, which was broadcast as part of the ABC’s Creatives series.

This award both acknowledges his extensive and acclaimed body of work, and will assist in collating a valuable and comprehensive archive of his photographs and a monograph of his most important images to ensure Australians can engage with the work into the future.

2016 – Meryl Tankard (co-winner)

Meryl Tankard is one of Australia’s pre-eminent dancers, choreographers and directors, with a long and distinguished career across the medium of dance in Australia and internationally, who continues to push the form in new creative directions.Tankard is a former Artistic Director of Adelaide based Australian Dance Theatre, soloist with Pina Bausch’s world renowned Wuppertal Tanztheater and a creator of ballet, opera and music and dance theatre. More recently Meryl has focused on film and screen culture as a medium for expressing her artistic vision and drive.

An AFTRS graduate, Tankard has appeared on screen as the subject of the documentary The Black Swan, starred in Dancing Daze produced by Jan Chapman, produced the choreography for Ana Kokkinos’ feature film The Book of Revelation and created the documentary Michelle’s Story, a portrait on dancer Michelle Ryan who was suddenly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Bettison Award enabled Tankard to further a number of projects that explore two themes central to her career as a choreographer and film-maker: the transformative power of art, and the positive impact that creativity can have on physical and mental health conditions.

Tankard is also completing development on her feature film MAD, an illuminating journey of one woman’s experience of living with ‘madness’, Sandy Jeffs, a Melbourne-based poet and writer. Tankard used the Bettison Award to edit footage of her acclaimed solo dance-theatre work Two Feet and digitise her stage works, making them available to be shared with educational institutions, the general public and future generations.

2016 – Tim Jarvis (co-winner)

Tim Jarvis is an adventurer, environmental scientist, author, public speaker and filmmaker who, in 2013, led a team that retraced Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary 1916 journey to the Antarctic. He holds Masters degrees in environmental science and environmental law, is the Global Ambassador for World Wildlife Fund Australia and is the sustainability adviser on multilateral aid projects for the World Bank and AusAID.

Tim Jarvis is project leader of 25zero, an adventurous and visually spectacular global initiative against the biggest threat 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 where they were used to push decision makers to arrive at a meaningful agreement.

The Award has enabled development of the phenomenal footage from the climbs into new forms, including a documentary, all of which are designed to educate and engage in the issue of climate change by ‘showing’ it.

2015 – Greg Mackie OAM

Greg Mackie has had a long association with the arts and cultural life of South Australia, serving on the boards of many arts organisations, including FEAST Festival, the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust and the Libraries Board of SA and more recently, the Ngeringa Arts Trust. Following a decade with Adelaide Writers’ Week, and entrepreneurial cultural activity, Greg founded the biennial Adelaide Festival of Ideas. From 2004 he went on to successfully lead Arts South Australia and later as Deputy Chief Executive, Cultural Development in Premier Mike Rann’s Department of the Premier and Cabinet.Awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2002 for his services to the arts, in 2007 he was presented with the national AbaF Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Cultural Leader of the Year Award for his efforts in fostering relations between the arts and business. Mackie used his Bettison Award to resurrect the Adelaide Festival of Ideas in October 2016.

If you have further enquiries, please contact Adelaide Film Festival on (08) 8394 2505 or via

foundation perpetual