The EPAA Scholarly Non-Fiction Book of the Year is awarded to a work of scholarly non-fiction that is both accessible to a wide readership and which has had an impact on the Australian community.

The work is written or edited by an Australian author and is founded in scholarship and research. The book might present a narrative history, explain a topic of community relevance, tell the stories of important individuals or encourage improved community outcomes. It may also analyse significant texts, provide a synthesis of ideas, revive interest in a neglected subject, or examine the latest thinking on a topic. The book’s accessibility is evident in the clarity of its writing style, its presentation and design.

Explore the excellent scholarly works that have made it to the 2022 shortlist below.

2022 Winner
The Repressed History of Colonial Victoria
Janet McCalman
Melbourne University Publishing
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From the author of Struggletown and Journeyings, this rich study of the lives of unwilling colonisers is an original and confronting new history of our convict past-the repressed history of colonial Victoria.

Judges’ Comments: Vandemonians is a sparkling and lucidly told history, enlivened by the colourful detail of the lives McCalman writes about. As a prosopography (an investigation using diverse data sources, of the characteristics of a group of people), it contributes to the understanding of Tasmanian convict settlers in Victoria from a range of angles. Not only does it uncover new aspects of Australia’s colonial history, but by illuminating newly mapped information in the database the Founders and Survivors Ships Project, it encourages future researchers, both scholarly and novice, to learn more about the Vandemonians – ensuring that the book’s impact extends beyond its pages.

Highly Commended
Farmers or Hunter-gatherers?
The Dark Emu Debate
Peter Sutton, Keryn Walshe
Melbourne University Publishing
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Australians’ understanding of Aboriginal society prior to the British invasion from 1788 has been transformed since the publication of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu in 2014. It argued that classical Aboriginal society was more sophisticated than Australians had been led to believe because it resembled more closely the farming communities of Europe. In Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe ask why Australians have been so receptive to the notion that farming represents an advance from hunting and gathering.

Judges’ Comments: Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers provides further evidence to deepen our understanding of how Aboriginal people thrived on this continent prior to the arrival of Europeans. The result shows that complex combinations of hunting, gathering and fishing supported a variety of communities across the country. Most importantly, it tries to dispel the notion that there is one way to view ‘advancement’, and that each community worked with their environment, local resources and techniques to enable a satisfying existence.

Highly Commended
Secrets of Women’s Healthy Ageing
Living Better, Living Longer
Professor Cassandra Szoeke
Melbourne University Publishing
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Secrets of Women’s Healthy Ageing draws on the findings of a unique study that has focused on the health of more than four hundred women in their mid-to-late lives. Over the past thirty years a team of international investigators has compiled a remarkable amount of data, aiming to raise awareness of modifiable risk factors in women’s health.

Judges’ Comments: Secrets of Women’s Healthy Ageing is an excellent example of long-term research that provides real world advice to the wider community.  Over thirty years, the researchers worked with women to regularly collect information about their health from biological, mental and emotional perspectives. This has been distilled into simple guidelines that can help all women take preventative measures to ensure they protect their health as they age, and reduce the chance of developing chronic age-related diseases.

Another Day in the Colony
by Chelsea Watego
University of Queensland Press 
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In this collection of deeply insightful and powerful essays, Chelsea Watego examines the ongoing and daily racism faced by First Nations peoples in so-called Australia. Rather than offer yet another account of ‘the Aboriginal problem’, she theorises a strategy for living in a society that has only ever imagined Indigenous peoples as destined to die out.

Sound Citizens
Australian Women Broadcasters Claim their Voice, 1923–1956
Catherine Fisher
ANU Press

Using a rich archive of radio magazines, station archives, scripts, personal papers and surviving recordings, Sound Citizens traces how women broadcasters used radio as a tool for their advocacy; radio’s significance to the history of women’s advancement; and how broadcasting was used in the development of women’s citizenship in Australia.