Van Badham was born Vanessa Badham in Sydney in 1978. Her mother and father worked in the New South Wales gaming and track industry, with her father eventually working as a manager in the registered club industry. The influence of her upbringing was evident in work presented to her teachers at school; Badham's first script was a second grade assignment to write up the class Nativity Play, which she set in the beer garden of a public house with Mary and Joseph ejected by a manager for failing to meet dress regulations.
Badham attended St George Girls' High School in Kogarah. Darrell Hilton, an acting teacher, encouraged her develop her writing for the stage; on graduation from high school Badham was admitted into the Creative Writing programme at the University of Wollongong.
While a student she began to publish poetry and short fiction as well as write student dramas. At university, she was drawn into involvement with student politics and left-wing activism, and she was elected editor of the Wollongong University Student Representative Council newspaper, Tertangala. By 1998, Badham was an avowed anarchist and President of the New South Wales branch of the National Union of Students, caucusing with radical group the Non Aligned Left. In 2013, she completed a Masters at the University of Melbourne.
In 1999, Badham won the Naked Theatre Company's first "Write Now!" play competition and with it a production of her winning play, The Wilderness of Mirrors, at the Sydney Theatre Company's Wharf studio. About secret service infiltration of an activist organisation, the play brought her to public attention and she began to stage more work across Australia. In 2001, she relocated to the United Kingdom  to study at the University of Sheffield.
Move to UK
In the UK, Badham's work was discovered by the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, who staged a collaborative production of Kitchen with Nabokov Theatre in 2001. A play about marriage as a metaphor for capitalism, it then toured to the 2002 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it became a critical success. A 2003 play, Camarilla, was a critical success at the 2003 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, cementing Badham's international reputation as a proponent of radical political theatre. Badham was appointed Literary Manager of London's Finborough Theatre in 2009 and worked there until relocating to Melbourne to become an artistic associate at the Malthouse Theatre from 2011-2013. Badham's awards for her theatre work include the 2005 Queensland Premier's Literary Award for Black Hands / Dead Section and the 2014 New South Wales Premier's Literary Award for Muff.
Career as Novelist
In 2013, Badham began publishing political commentary and arts criticism in the Guardian Australia. Her commentary has also appeared in publications The Drum, The Hoopla, Women's Agenda, Australian Cosmopolitan and Daily Life. As a commentator, she has been a guest of Radio National, Sunrise and the Wheeler Centre and in 2014 made a controversial appearance on ABCTV's Q & A programme.
Badham's works for stage include:
- We Met at the Demo (1996)
- Thrown to Earth (1997)
- The Wilderness of Mirrors (1999)
- Kitchen (2001)
- Dole Diary (2001)
- Bedtime for Bastards (2003)
- Camarilla (2003)
- Material Girls (2003)
- Still Life with a Dead Artist (2004)
- Letters to W (2004)
- Nikolina (2004)
- Waitin' 4 Da G (with Jonny Berliner) (2004)
- Bang on the Nerve (2004)
- Black Hands / Dead Section (2005)
- Petrograd (2005)
- The Gabriels (2006)
- Persae (an adaptation of The Persians by Aeschylus) (2006)
- Cash in Christ (with Jonny Berliner) (2007)
- Poster Girl (2008)
- Die Tod und Leben von D-Star K / Snatch Paradise (2009)
- Hot Man (2009)
- The Sameness of the Days (2009)
- The Bull (2011)
- How It Is Or As You Like It (2011)
- Muff (2013)
- The Bull, the Moon and the Coronet of Stars (2013)
- Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber (2013)
- Notoriously Yours (2014)
- The Trollhunter (with Catherine Deveny) (2014)
- Big Baby (with Sam Routledge) (2014)
- http://www.austlit.edu.au/run?ex=ShowAgent&agentId=A%237G Vanessa Badham
- Van Badham "Would a bigger tax on cigarettes have saved my father's life?", theguardian.com, 8 August 2013
- Scully, Jess (2006). "Interview with Van Badham". SummerWinter (4): 56.
- "St George Girls High School: Notable Alumnae"
- Samara Gardner "Local Playwright Attributes International Success to Illawarra Education"
- Alice Richards "Flipping 'Blah' Theatre on Its Side"
- Van Badham "The Beast Unleashed on Students is the One That Will Return to Bite Us All"
- William Verity "The Truth Is Out There in Van Badham's Productions"
- Rowan Cahill "Political Theatre"
- "Playwrights Exit Stage". The Courier-Mail. 2007-03-24.
- "Malthouse Announces Associate Artist"
- "NSW Premiers Literary Awards Winning Novel Explores Multicultural Identity"