Submission from Helen Garner: National Cultural Policy
Every Brilliant Thing rehearsal room.

National Cultural Policy Submission

Helen Garner
27 July 2022

Instead of trying to argue about productivity and primary producers and culture, I’d like to make a personal statement of gratitude to the Australian government for the help it gave me, early in my writing life.

People don't talk much about the massive amount of intellectual and observational preparation that serious writers have to do before they can start writing a book.

The funding I had from the Literature Board, when I was starting out in the late 1970s and early 1980s, gave me weeks and months of unencumbered time for the wide, deep reading every writer needs to do.

It also allowed me long stretches of time to wander around looking at things and places, watching people and listening to the way they talk—just ruminating and thinking and absorbing, building up a head of steam.

To an outside observer, these activities probably don't look like much. In fact, although they’re a sort of labour, they probably look more like bludging. But without them, no one can write anything that’s worth reading.

Without the help I was given, my work would have been hasty and shallow, and my working life harder and more painfully fragmented.

So I’d simply like to offer my thanks to the Australian government and the tax-payers, for the priceless gift they gave me when I asked for help: they gave me their trust, and a chance to establish myself as a writer who might have something useful and interesting to say to (and for) my fellow-citizens.

I urge you with all my heart to offer more of this generous and invaluable help to the writers who need it today.

With sincere gratitude
Helen Garner

The Issue

The Government has committed to delivering a new National Cultural Policy by the end of the year (2022) to establish a comprehensive roadmap to guide the skills and resources required to transform and safeguard a diverse, vibrant and sustainable arts, entertainment and cultural sector now and into the future.

Town hall events were held across the country over July and August 2022 for stakeholders and community members to provide their perspectives and feedback to inform the policy. They also received many diverse views through public submissions, which were published on their website.

To read about the Australian Government's Cultural Policy, see:

Formal submissions were accepted from 01 July to 22 August, 2022. Ms Garner's submission is one of many now public. See link above for further submissions.

IMAGE: The Guardian