Last updated:

21 October 2022

A book recounting the lives of 200 convicts transported to Port Phillip in the 1800s has won the top prize at the 2022 Victorian Community History Awards, helping to shine a light on Australia’s complex colonial past.

Janet McCalman was awarded the Victorian Premier’s History Award for her book Vandemonians: The Repressed History of Colonial Victoria at a ceremony at the Arts Centre Melbourne today.

The judges praised the book for telling “poignant and personal stories with wit and irony” and for its demonstration of excellent research and writing to uncover the collective biographies of the prisoners.

The Premier’s History Award carries $5,000 prize money, with 11 category winners sharing a further $16,000 in recognition of their excellence.

Other projects honoured at the awards include projects on the histories of Greater Geelong, Red Cliffs, Moreland, Melton, La Trobe Valley, Melbourne’s Little Lonsdale Street, Women’s Walking Club, as well as the stories of Australian women artists and extinct wildlife.

Projects reflecting LGBTIQA+ histories of Melbourne, including the Queer-ways self-guided tour of Fitzroy and Collingwood and an article about gender non-conformity in historical records, were also celebrated.

The Victorian Community History Awards are presented by Public Record Office Victoria in partnership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria to recognise the contributions made by Victorians in the sharing and preservation of the state’s history.

The Victorian Community History Awards are supported by the Andrews Labor Government.

See the full list of winners at


Quotes attributable to Minister for Government Services Danny Pearson

“The projects recognised today share the stories of Victoria’s past, helping us to better understand the communities we live in and their rich historical heritage.”

“Congratulations to all award-winners for their outstanding work, and whose efforts ensure that Victoria’s diverse history lives on for generations to come.”

Quote attributable to Public Record Office Victoria Director and Keeper of Public Records Justine Heazlewood

“These award-winning projects showcase the excellence, skill and creativity of volunteer and professional historians across Victoria – congratulations to all.”

Quote attributable to President of the Royal Historical Society Victoria Emeritus Professor Richard Broome AM

“From an exceptional pool of entries, the judges have delivered another stellar Victorian Community History Awards line-up. Thank you to every community historian who participated in the program this year.”


Find more information on our winners page including images of the ceremony to download.

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