19 October 2018
A book about the history of mental health during the gold rush in Victoria has been awarded top prize at the 2018 Victorian Community History Awards.
Melbourne clinical psychologist and writer Jill Giese was awarded the Victorian Premier's History Award of $5,000 for her book The Maddest Place on Earth in a ceremony at the Arts Centre Melbourne on 8 October.
In the 19th century, Victoria had the highest rate of what was then referred to as insanity in Australia. Jill Giese’s book reveals amid rich historical detail the local explanations for the record number of people being held in the state’s asylums, using a brilliant fusion of serious scholarship and imaginative writing.
Other winning entries included the online documentary series Migrant Stories from Medea Films, the book A Secondary Education for All? by John Andrews and Deborah Towns, while the Judges' Special Prize was awarded to Jennifer Bantow and Ros Lewis for their self-published book Barro-abil providing the fascinating history of Barrabool sandstone.
The Victorian Community History Awards are presented by Public Record Office Victoria in partnership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. A major event of History Week, the annual awards recognise the work of individuals and groups committed to telling stories of local history. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the awards program.