The Dorothea Dix Award created to enable those who have suffered mental/physical illness, disability, or injury, a chance at recognition through the written word. The nature and scope of theoretical and experiential content, the depth of research, the level of self-examination, and the degree to which the question posed by the annual competition is addressed are the principal criteria I take into consideration in selecting a winner.
It was named after Dorothea Dix, a social reformer, educator, and nurse who fought for the rights of the mentally ill. Dorothea was selfless in that she devoted herself to the wellbeing of the ailing and was responsible for widespread international reforms in mental health.
For this inaugural competition prospective entrants were required to address one of two questions: [Reflect upon a mental or physical illness, disability, or injury and describe how it prompted a revaluation of your belief system OR reflect upon a circumstance which inspired a positive transformation of your belief system so that you were able to overcome a mental or physical illness, disability, or injury.]
The winning entry for the inaugural competition was a piece entitled, “The Prison of the Mind” by Debra McClure. The piece was written from the perspective of a carer. Save for satisfying to considerable merit the aforementioned criteria, Debra’s entry also showcased her perseverance and selflessness in caring for her daughter – similar traits that Dorothea Dix displayed in her unwavering endeavour to care for the disabled and mentally ill. Congratulations Debra! Debra’s entry can be read by visiting my website www.paulkiritsis.net and clicking on the Dorothea Dix Award tab.
Debra McClure is currently interstate and accepted her award in absentia.
The topics for the second competition are already up. Next we’re focusing on the theme of hallucinations and the categories have expanded to accommodate a wider circle of writers (we have a fiction and a non-fiction category now). Next year’s prize includes a week’s paid accommodation on Gold Coast plus the trophy. Best of luck if you plan on entering!