2020 Alumni Award for Professional Excellence
Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing), 1996
In a high-profile career as a writer and activist, Vanessa (Van) Badham has demonstrated extraordinary creative talent and courage to simultaneously challenge and entertain.
Van is a celebrated theatremaker, journalist, critic, academic, activist, novelist and broadcaster known for her unflinching, often controversial socio-political commentary. For more than two decades she has roused audiences through her works for stage and musical theatre, with more than 100 professional productions internationally.
Her works have won acclaim at the Edinburgh and Adelaide Festivals and she was the first Australian selected for the New York Summer Play Festival. Van’s productions have graced prestigious theatres and film festivals across Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States and Canada, and her recent theatre project, Banging Denmark, sold out its month-long Sydney Opera House season. In 2020, she has been commissioned for new plays by Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre and Western Australia’s Black Swan State Theatre, adding to a portfolio of long-term development commissions.
Van is a prolific published writer, with numerous play scripts, a novel, several chapters in anthologies and a non-fiction book in progress for Hardie Grant. She has been widely recognised for her work, winning multiple NSW, Western Australia and Queensland Premier’s Awards along with a slew of industry awards. She was among the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence of 2017 and was a 2020 NSW Premiers Literary Award finalist.
As a journalist and commentator, Van brings her passionate lens to some of society’s most divisive and important issues. She has offered searing insights that refuse to skirt around the tough facts as a columnist and arts journalist for The Guardian since 2013, and has written extensively for Fairfax papers, Britain’s Daily Telegraph, ABC Online, Women’s Agenda, Cosmopolitan, and many more. Van has been a commentator on Sky News TV’s Politics HQ and regularly features on ABC TV’s The Drum and Q&A, among countless other broadcast appearances.
Van has shared her expertise as an academic and teacher for leading universities and industry bodies. She was a keynote speaker at a UNESCO conference in Rome on cultural depictions of violence against women, and delivered a powerful keynote on women, the theatre and activism at the Women Playwrights International Conference in Sweden in 2012. She is Chair of the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre Trust, represents her profession on numerous committees, and served on the Ministerial Advisory Council for the Minister for Women in Victoria.
Chancellor, Van Badham is one of the University’s foremost creative writing graduates, leveraging her talents to provoke critical thought and entertain audiences around the world. Her contribution to her profession and to broader society is exemplary.
It is with great pleasure that I present Vanessa Badham for the Alumni Award for Professional Excellence.
Photo by Chelsea Thistlewaite.