John Button School Prize

The John Button School Prize awards the best essay on a subject concerning Australia’s future by a Victorian student who is in Years 10 to 12 and is younger than 19. The student receives $2500 and their school receives $2000.

Applications open

13 May 2019

Applications close

23 Jun 2019

Application type

Application required
How to apply

Benefit type

Single payment
Full benefit details

Citizenship requirements

Australian / domestic student

Total value

up to $4,500

Applicable study areas

All study areas

Number of scholarships awarded


  • Eligibility & selection criteria


    To be eligible for this scholarship, you need to:

    • be a Victorian school student in Years 10 to 12 and younger than 19
    • not be a past winner of the John Button School Prize


    1. The choice of subject is up to the student writer but topics may include for example: Australia’s population, climate change, reconciliation with Indigenous Australians, water, asylum seekers, education, health, the state of the arts — big ideas for Australia’s future.
    2. The essay must be 1,800-2,000 words long.
    3. The essay can be work undertaken to meet the student’s existing subject requirements, or an essay written expressly for the Prize.
    4. An individual school may enter a MAXIMUM OF TWO ESSAYS and the school principal or delegate must complete an online application form together with each essay.
    5. Submissions must include citations and endnotes.
    6. The school principal (or delegate) is required to guarantee the following:
      1. Student details provided are accurate
      2. Essay(s) submitted are the work of the student(s) named on this form
      3. One copy of the essay is to accompany each entry form
        1. Do not include the name of the student or school on the essay
        2. A word count should be noted on the bottom of the essay

    Selection criteria

    Students' applications will be judged on:

    • Understanding and explanation of a significant issue affecting Australian policy or politics
    • Consideration and analysis of a range of arguments about the issue
    • A persuasive and clearly articulated point of view on a preferred solution
    • Use of credible evidence to support that point of view, and proper referencing of sources (for guidance, refer to
    • Expressive, engaging, fluent and coherent writing
    • Sense of passion and idealism in the pieces

    The judging panel will be listed shortly and comprises five judges – two nominated by the Melbourne School of Government, two from the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority and a rotating judge from each of the subject associations (Victorian Association for the teaching of English – VATE; Social Education Victoria – SEV; and the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria). The judging panel will make a recommendation to the Dean who will make the final awarding decision.

    The winner is required to:

    • Accept award online within 21 days
    • Write a letter of appreciation to the judging panel (Upon acceptance)
  • Application process
    • The school principal or delegate should complete the online application form and upload the essay (please note: the student should NOT complete the application form)
    • Only the title of the essay and the word count are to be included on the essay. The name, school and age of the student should only be entered on the entry form
    • Schools may submit no more than two essays, using a separate application for each
  • When will I know the outcome?

    The winner will be announced at the annual John Button Oration during the Melbourne Writers Festival in August. Shortlisted and unsuccessful applicants will be contacted after this event.

  • About the donor

    John Button

    John Button was a Senator for Victoria between 1974 and 1993 and an accomplished author. On his retirement he held various posts with education institutions and on the boards of companies.

    For further information about the John Button Fund and last year's winner and runners-up, see the Melbourne School of Government's web page.

What are the benefits?

Single payments of $2500 to the winning student and $2000 to the student's school


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The information listed here is subject to change without notice. Where we have listed information about jointly run scholarships programs, please also see our partners' websites. Information describing the number and value of scholarships awarded is indicative.