The John Button Fund


The John Button Foundation was established in 2009 in memory of John Button, the late Industry Minister, Senator and writer. In 2016 the Foundation donated the fund to The University of Melbourne to be managed within the Melbourne School of Government.

The Melbourne School of Government provides a platform for informed, independent debate on contemporary issues of great significance to the future of Australia and our region. It is our honour to continue the work of the fund in honour of John Button's significant contribution to Australian politics and public debate.

About John Button

John Button was a Senator for Victoria between 1974 and 1993. On the election of the Hawke Government in 1983 he became Industry Minister and Leader of the Government in the Senate, positions he held until 1993. As a Minister he oversaw substantial reform of Australian industry, enabling many industry sectors to succeed for the first time in the global marketplace. On his retirement in 1993 he held various posts with education institutions and on the boards of companies.

John Button wrote a great deal of journalism and three books on politics after his retirement: Flying the Kite, On the Loose and a memoir, As It Happened.

His 2002 Quarterly Essay on the Labor Party, Beyond Belief, won the 2003 Alfred Deakin Prize, one of the Victorian Premiers' Literary Awards. In 1996 he became Chairman of the Melbourne Writers' Festival, a post he held for five years, and he was also a director of Australian Book Review.

Supporting the John Button Fund

The John Button School Prize is made possible by generous philanthropic support. We invite you to be part of the future of this program by making a donation to the John Button Fund.

Donate to the Fund

Your support will ensure that our best and brightest young thinkers feel encouraged as they start to tackle the big issues.

If you would like to learn more about supporting the John Button Fund, please email Monica Hanns in our Development Office.

Prize Winners Announced

The Melbourne School of Government is proud to announce the winner of the 2018 John Button School Prize.

Benjamin Chesler is a Year 12 student at Camberwell Grammar School was selected as the winner of the 2018 John Button Essay Prize for his essay, 'Crisis or opportunity? Combatting urban sprawl and rural decline with immigration'. The essay impressed the judging panel by drawing on a diverse range of credible sources to address the issue of population growth management, arguing for the resettlement of migrants and refugees in rural areas in response to the dual problems of urban sprawl and rural decline. It provides sound historical context to the issue, a well-reasoned consideration of opposing perspectives, and a clearly articulated point of view. The essay is very well-written and clearly structured. Download and read

Hayden Radford is a Year 12 student at Nossal High School. He was selected as the runner-up for the 2018 John Button School Prize for his essay, 'The merits of a First Nations' voice in modern Australia'. Hayden's essay argues for a constitutionally enshrined ‘First Nations voice’ as a means of improving the outcomes of indigenous Australians and the cause of reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. The judging panel were pleased that the essay conveys a strong sense of idealism and a strong understanding of the multi-dimensional nature of the issue. It is clearly structured and well-written, and engages in thorough analysis. Download and read

Max Walton Briggs is a Year 10 student at Berwick Grammar School. He received an honourable mention in the 2018 John Button School Prize for his essay, 'Australia and China: Does our policy allow us to be allies to the world's greatest superpowers?'. It draws on various current examples to explain the issue of Australia’s bilateral relations with China and the US, and Australia’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The essay set out its central argument in a logical manner, presents various detailed solutions to the issue, is thoroughly researched, and is written with a sense of passion and conviction. Download and read

Find out more on the John Button School Prize