Award-winning: Frank Bongiorno, with his latest book <em> Sex Lives of Australians: A History.</em>

Award-winning: Frank Bongiorno, with his latest book Sex Lives of Australians: A History. Photo: Graham Tidy

A nine-chapter book by Frank Bongiorno which examines how the sex lives of Australians have changed since the earliest years of European settlement has been named the ACT Book of the Year.

Mr Bongiorno, an associate professor of history at the Australian National University, spent nine years working on the book - The Sex Lives of Australians: A History.

The work also focuses on the sexual revolution and counter-revolution from the 1960s to now.

<em>The Sex Lives of Australians: A History</em>, by Frank Bongiorno.

The Sex Lives of Australians: A History, by Frank Bongiorno.

ACT Minister for Arts Joy Burch, who was not a member of the judging panel, announced the winner on Tuesday. She said that 28 nominations had been received for the award demonstrated the depth of local writing talent in the ACT.

"I would like to congratulate Mr Bongiorno on this book, which was unanimously chosen by the judging panel as the award winner out of a strong field," she said.

Mr Bongiorno said he was delighted and surprised to have won the award given the calibre of other entrants.

He said he hoped his work would be of interest not just for students and the academic community, but also spark a renewed debate among the broader public.

“I’d like readers to consider that sexuality is very important and that it has real political implications,” he said. “Some of the most important political struggles we’ve had are about sexual identity and freedom."

"This is a fun topic, but it’s also a serious one”.

Mr Bongiorno said the challenge for Australian historians has always been to tell the country’s colourful and exciting history in creative ways.

His work was judged by award winning author Marion Halligan, Dr Michael McKernan, and screenwriter and academic Felicity Packard.

It was considered to be “elegantly written with a strong narrative, offering readers an intelligent, accessible and balanced account of the changing attitudes and experiences of Australians since European settlement”.

Mr Bongiorno's book was also shortlisted for the 2013 Prime Minister's Literary Award, the Australian History Prize, and the 2013 NSW Premier's History Awards.