Making headlines
Vol. 18 No 1 | Autumn 2016
Writing award for secondary students continues to grow

This article is 8 years old and may no longer reflect current clinical practice.

With this year’s competition open for entrants, now is a good time to assess the success of the College’s Liam and Frankie Davison Award for outstanding achievement in literary writing on an issue in women’s health.


Applications opened on 31 January 2016 for the Liam and Frankie Davison Award for outstanding achievement in literary writing on an issue in women’s health and, based on the response to the award in 2015, this year the field will be even more competitive than before.

In 2015, the number of entries for the award increased by 81 per cent from the previous year. Australian entries increased more than those from New Zealand, more than tripling from 2014 to 2015, with submissions received from Tasmania, ACT, New South Wales and Victoria. The judges were most impressed by the topics selected and the high quality of the entries. Both fiction and non-fiction pieces were submitted, covering a broad range of topics, ranging from anorexia, child marriage, pregnancy in the developing world and assisted reproductive technology to violence against women, sex trafficking, endometriosis, teenage pregnancy, stress urinary incontinence, maternal mortality, Indigenous women’s health and HIV.

Coming in at the top of this competitive field with their exceptional submissions were Rachael Machado, of Whangarei Girls High School (Whangarei, New Zealand), who wrote about sex trafficking and sex tourism, and Izabella Watkins-Gray, of Hobart College (Hobart, Tasmania), for her powerful fictional piece called, ‘A Girl of Iron’,which addressed maternal mortality in developing countries. The recipients were presented with $1000 for their winning submissions in front of their teachers and peers at presentations held at each of their schools and attended by RANZCOG Fellows.


New Zealand winner Rachael Machado was presented with her award by Dr Ian Page.

Izabella Watkins-Gray first heard about the Liam and Frankie Davison Award from her English writing teacher, who encouraged her class to enter. A very passionate student, Izabella had previously taken a course examining women’s health in developing countries. Although she found her research into fistula and other health issues that affect women in developing countries confronting, she was encouraged by the fact that she was helping to raise awareness of important women’s health issues. Izabella was most appreciative for the award, she said, ‘I’m so grateful to RANZCOG for running this competition, it’s a wonderful opportunity for young people with an interest in either writing or women’s health to explore and expand their understanding of both.’

Dr Tania Hingston presented the Australian winner, Izabella Watkins-Gray,
with her award.

Rachael Machado also found out about the award through an English teacher at her school, and wanted to enter because she felt she could contribute something meaningful. Rachael was inspired to write her essay after reading the book Slavery Inc: The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking by Lydia Cacho and said she wanted her submission, ‘to remind people above all: that becoming complacent, even ignorant, is the enemy of change’. Rachael found it a challenge to research and write about such an emotive issue: ‘emotionally the process was difficult, I’m sure I cried more than once’. However, for those thinking of entering in 2016, her advice is: ‘Go for it! It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, and regardless of the prize and prestige you will come out with a greater knowledge of the topic you chose and hopefully a greater passion for it.’

Applications for this year’s award will close on 30 April 2016.

About the award

Open to students in their final three years of secondary school in Australia and New Zealand, the award was introduced in 2014 to increase awareness of the role and work of RANZCOG within the education sector below tertiary level. The name was changed from the RANZCOG Senior Secondary Students Women’s Health Award to the Liam and Frankie Davison Award following the tragic loss of Liam Davison and his wife, Frankie, in the MH17 disaster. Liam Davison was a valued member of staff at RANZCOG, responsible for e-Learning, and Frankie a teacher at Toorak College for many years. The award was named in recognition of Liam and Frankie’s shared passion for nurturing and encouraging young writers, teaching and good literature, and in the hope that this will be a meaningful legacy for Liam and Frankie. The award is intended to be of relevance not only to students intending to study medicine at tertiary level, but also those with an interest in a variety of subject areas from science and health, to law and politics. Further information is available on the RANZCOG website: or by contacting: Mrs Anna Smaragdi, Administrative Officer – Meetings and CEO Activities t: +61 3 9412 2908, e:[email protected] 

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