The award citation says in part:
"This book is testimony to her work in East Timor, and an insight into a defining time in that country's history. Such struggles have their personal sides, however, and this book is also a remarkable personal narrative, interspersed with poetry, that details the other careers Shackleton juggled while maintaining an abiding focus on justice in East Timor."
From judges' comments:
Shirley Shackleton's book is an exceptional personal narrative in this year's field of rich Australian journalism, history and analysis. It is exceptional because of its raw intellectual honesty forged from murder and massacre in East Timor during a cover-up which prevailed for 25 years. It is exceptional because it confronts then exposes blind-eyed Australian diplomacy. It confronts then exposes self-censorship posing as journalism, because of the Australia/US/Indonesia geopolitical logic which required it.
From ordinary human expectations, the author's personal story -- with sometimes brutal self-assessment -- evolves from self-pity and grief over the 1975 murders at Balibo and Dili to a campaign to raise public consciousness about atrocities which decimated the people of East Timor. The consequence of that raised consciousness? Independence for East Timor in 2002 and a measure of belated redemption for Australia and the international community. The Circle of Silence is Shirley Shackleton's testimony from her life's darkest hour at the death of her husband Greg to vindication and relief at the survival of a people who struggled for their freedom.