2019’s gala awards night was held on Friday, 23 August to recognise the best work published from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019.

It was open to all journalists, photographers and media outlets in Victoria and Tasmania.

2019 Winners

Best On Farm Story

Sponsor: Coles


Changing Ways – Kate Dowler, The Weekly Times

A strong piece showing Dowler’s well-developed understanding of the need for farming to have a practical response to climate change.

Highly Commended

Bending with the seasons – Clarisa Collis, GroundCover

A highly readable article which painted a story of using the past to better the future. The article looked at the variety of new tools available to farmers to make better decisions in constantly variable conditions.


Marble Baa – James Wagstaff, The Weekly Times

This article is what we’ve come to expect from Wagstaff, well researched and well written. The story of the creation of “five-star lamb” was both interesting and thorough.

Best Agribusiness Story

Sponsor: AuSPICA


Oh Christmas Tree – Meagan Rooth, ABC Rural

A new, topical take on drought coverage. Rooth reports on northern Australia’s shortage of a crucial festive ingredient.

Highly commended

Gippy Goat – Tim Lee, Peter Healy and Elahn Zetlin, ABC Landline

A carefully crafted, in depth story chronicling one of this year’s high profile issues ….vegan activism.


Speer Head – Sue Neales, The Weekly Times

A complex feature story profiling the chief operating officer of one of Australia’s biggest beef producers, Anna Speer.

Best Print Feature Story


Lady Detectives of Bairnsdale – Mim Cook, Gippslandia

A quirky and entertaining feature that made the most of an interesting subject. Well written and engaging. This feature left the reader wanting more which is a credit to the author.

Highly commended

Identity –  Nigel McNay, The Border Mail

A brave and well written journey of clinical depression and family. The power of this feature is the enormous potential to help others facing struggles in life and the positive reinforcement that seeking help can make such a difference.


A million dollar view from life on street – Harrison Tippet, Geelong Advertiser

A well written feature that informed and entertained the reader from the opening paragraph to the close. The strength of this feature is that Tippet takes readers to the heart of the homelessness issue through Benjamin Hogan and his ‘million dollar view’. It’s vital we understand this issue to find the solutions needed to help people such as Benjamin Hogan.

Best Broadcast Feature Story

Sponsor: Lely


Winds of Change: The wind turbine transformation in western Victoria – Charlotte King, ABC Ballarat

A well-researched. feature that takes the lead on both a complicated and controversial issue. This feature offers a window into complex and differing views and experiences – important and insightful.


Fragments from France – Tim Lee, Peter Healy, James Fisher and, Dave Christie, ABC Landline

Beautifully told and constructed with great use of imagery and music. A powerful story and intriguing piece of history about resourceful Australian soldiers and a young French war orphan who found a place in the regional Victorian town of Paynesville.

Highly commended 

Milked dry – Lauren Day, ABC 7:30

Superb, insightful, emotional. This is an honest and at times heart wrenching account of just how tough life can be for a farming family and a struggling dairy industry.


Barmah Choked – Clint Jasper, Peter Healy and Trudi Arter, ABC Landline

This exceptional feature is the result of extensive research. It is a thorough, well-constructed, and considered story that provides a clear and comprehensive picture of the Barmah Choke – a narrow section of the Murray River through the Barmah-Millewa Forest. It provides insight into a crucial but extremely complex rural and regional issue.

Best Feature Series

Highly Commended

The fight for medicine – Simon Cameron, Sunraysia Daily

An interesting series which included a variety of voices. It sought to provide the facts on a topic which people are often ill or mis-informed about.


Stop the violence – Nigel McNay, The Border Mail

A highly emotive topic handled sensitively but also without sensationalising. The series canvassed different perspectives and included a level of colour in the language that heightened engagement throughout. The imagery stood out, and further strengthened the words.

Best Sports Story

Sponsor: VicHealth


Youth Academy: Alou Kuol – Liam Nash and Alex Mitchell, Shepparton News

While the format is clearly directed at young readers, the quotes and explaining pars tell a great tale and bring out an outrageous young athlete. There are laugh out loud moments within this article.

Highly Commended

Dad builds giant skate ramp for X Games competitor son – Amber Irving-Guthrie, ABC Gippsland

An ideal combination of story and medium here as the video and sound of this giant skate ramp in country Victoria stand out. Great interviews from unusual talent and a good explanation for how and why the dad built this ramp.


Still the boy called Budsa – Justine McCullagh-Beasy, Warrnambool Standard

Trevor Gleeson is one of the most successful coaches in Australian men’s sport at present yet this story goes right to his soul and upbringing in Warrnambool. McCullagh-Beasy used outstanding story telling, extra interviews for context and a distinctly local angle to flesh out Gleeson’s career.

Best Print News Story


It’s time – Allan Murphy, Sunraysia Daily

Allan Murphy’s exceptional storytelling describes a family’s pain 30 years on from the violent death of a teenager. He gives life to a cold case that left a family devastated and police puzzled.


Merlino learns a lesson – Tyla Harrington, Riverine Herald

Don’t mess with a small town community. The Riverine Herald took the fight to fund Echuca Specialist School straight to the source and kept up the pressure on the Victorian Government.


Family faces deportation – Eden Hynninen, North Central Review

The North Central Review took on the Federal Department of Immigration in an effort to convince the minister to grant permanent residency to an Irish couple and their young son, suffering from cystic fibrosis.

Highly commended

Fish or ships – Peter Hunt, The Weekly Times

Sifting through audit reports and no doubt asking dogged questions have exposed a story that is beyond belief – river operators holding back $3.2 billion of environmental flows to the Murray Mouth to benefit yachting and holiday makers. This story exposes a serious misuse of funds at the expense of a struggling river system.


The Boys’ Club – Caleb Cluff, The Ballarat Courier

The winning entry has captured the essence of why we do what we do. To right wrongs, to give a voice to the voiceless, to hold the powerful accountable and to expose wrongdoings. In an environment when the “boys’ club” mentality is no longer acceptable; the reporter has exposed a “serious and ongoing problem” in two prisons.

Best Radio News Story

Highly Commended

Clinging to faith in the wake of the Pell verdict – Charlotte King, ABC Ballarat

In the wake of Cardinal George Pell’s imprisonment, Charlotte reported the views of a Catholic priest and parishioners from a Mass in the Diocese of Ballarat, where the Cardinal was born and ordained. The priest condemned his church for its failings and apologised to parishioners before elaborating to Charlotte about his role as a chaplain for local jailed paedophiles and their response to the Cardinal’s sentencing. The well-crafted report explored the complexities of the issue of sexual abuse in the church and its impact on regional communities.


Farm worker jailed for fatally poisoning 406 wedge-tailed eagles in fast east Gippsland – Kellie Lazzaro, ABC Gippsland

From the Sale Magistrates Court Kellie broke the news of Victoria’s first imprisonment of a person for killing wildlife. Kellie filed quickly across multiple platforms after breaking the story with an initial tweet that had 733 engagements. Her comprehensive online story was the most viewed in Victoria for the week with 242,000 page views. Her ABC Gippsland Facebook post reached more than 100,000 people and was shared more than 500 times. Her reports were succinct, informative and comprehensive, and laid out the facts clearly and concisely without emotion.

Best TV News Story


Black Saturday 10th anniversary special – Bruce Roberts, WIN News Victoria

Roberts delivers a on-screen field-presenting masterclass in this three-part anniversary series. Littered with pieces to camera that never feel gratuitous, and genuine moments of emotion with fire survivors, this series of reports takes the time to explore a wide range of issues relating to Black Saturday in a well-paced and respectful way.

Highly Commended  

Black Saturday – Callignee 10 years on – Jarrod Whittaker, ABC Gippsland

Whittaker uses personal anecdote and contemporary warnings to provide additional weight to his report on the Black Saturday anniversary. This story shares the experiences of Black Saturday survivors, but weaves them with ongoing developments in warning systems and debates about fire service responsiveness in a manner that is fresh, clear and engaging.


Domestic violence victims wait for injury assessment – Stephanie Corsetti, ABC Central Victoria

Corsetti produces a comprehensive, original and well-constructed report on an issue of genuine public interest. Revealing new details about a long wait endured by a woman in Echuca gives this report timeliness and impact, elevating it above an otherwise standard ‘issues-based’ think-piece.

Best Online News Story

Sponsor: Porter Novelli


The frustrated Victorian towns where population is going backwards – Bridget Rollason, ABC Ballarat

This story was effective in flipping the discussion of population growth in Melbourne by looking closely at rural communities struggling with population decline. It was well researched, with effective use of links to political and policy reporting in the lead up to the Victorian election.

Highly commended

Biennale of Australian Art leaves massive debt in its wake – Sian Johnson, ABC Ballarat

Persistence pays – this story was the result of ongoing inquiry which eventually resulted in a public admission of fault by the administrators of the Ballarat Bienniale of Australian Art. The investigation was of importance, not only to the local arts community but also raised questions of public administration of funding for the arts event.


Wetlands become wasteland – Matt Neal, ABC South West

An excellent story meeting all of the criteria for this category: urgency, importance, and demonstration of factual evidence. The act of investigation changed the path of the public administration of this rural community’s water supply – even before publication. The story was timely, hard-hitting, and clearly in the public interest.

Best News Photography


Blazing Silhouette – Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser

Intense heat is the order of the day in this striking shot. The observer can imagine the heat of the flames and feel sympathy for the firefighter pitted against an implacable adversary

Highly Commended

It’s Hot in Here – Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser

It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.Heat, dirt and discomfort are all evident in this shot. This picturesmakes one want to rip off that claustrophobicmask and feel the cool, fresh breeze.


Eye of the Beholde – Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser

The judges’ eyes were drawn to this picture by the direct gaze of the subject. This eye-to-eye contact establishes a direct relationship between the observer and the subject, drawing the observer into the picture. The eyes are further emphasised by the concealment of the rest of the subject’s face. The use of a longer lens and a shallow depth of field separates the central figure from any background distractions and the tight cropping clearly defines the subject.

Best General Interest Photography


Dawn Fire – Alan Barber, Geelong Advertiser

Nice shot, if you’ll pardon the pun.The photographer has done a fine job to capture the moment. And no caption isneeded to tell the story. 

Highly commended

Karen Community Celebrates – Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of a crowded and busy picture, a tiny island of serenity sleeps regardless of all that is occurring. The eye is drawn straight to the calm centre of this picture.


Aussie Jingle Bells – James Wiltshire, The Border Mail

The roll of bales, the evening light and the sheep in the background as the paddock recedes into the distance all add to the feel of the picture. The judges liked the composition of the shot and the fact all players are concentrating on the ball rather than the camera. A good picture, distinctly Australian in character. One might say it was quite appealing.

Best Sports Photography


Caught and Bowled – Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser

Heels-over-head, the bowler produces a nice capture of the ball and the photographer produces a timely capture of the event. Well played both.

Highly commended

Eyes on the ball – Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser

Frozen in mid-air, the ball seems to be waiting to be for gravity to return from a tea-break as it hangs suspended over the head of the player. A nice clean shot and a well-frozen moment. 


Agony and Ecstasy – Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser

No need for a lengthy caption to tell us what is happening here. The jubilation of the group juxtaposed against the misery of the one gives us a fair indication of what has happened. Although the observer may not be aware of the finer detail, the who, what and where, the picture clearly conveys its story.

Photographer of the Year

Sponsor: RACV


Morgan Hancock, Bendigo Advertiser

Hancock’s pictures exhibit a good profile of his talents. He shows thought, humour and the ability to capture both the moment and the emotion it contains.

Highly commended

Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser

Daniels shows here he wouldbe valued by hispicture editor for his skill in composition and capturing a moment in time.


Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser

Howe has demonstrated the ability, over a range of subjects, to create eye-catching pictures and convey a level of feeling and emotion.  

Ray Frawley Young Journalist of the Year


Isabella Pittaway, ABC Gippsland

Pittaway’s ability to present distinctive and informative breaking news has continually given a national voice to Gippsland farmers. Her local insight, shown with her reporting on the shearer labour shortage, as well as the ongoing Gippsland drought, reflects her outstanding pursuit of news relevant to the local and national rural audience.

Highly commended

Bryce Eishold, Latrobe Valley Express

Eishold is a talented reporter whose investigations through Freedom of Information requests and strong local contacts have sparked change to grant processes for employment in the community. He also shows his ability to write entertaining feature stories though the reflections of the Austrian-born builder who helped build the now demolished Morwell Power Station. He shows a dedication to good journalism that will be a boon to any employer.


Chantelle Francis, The Weekly Times

Francis’ reports on the rise of animal activism in Victoria and increasing incursions onto farms have broken new ground on the issue. Her concise and informative writing shows a clear grasp of the implications of the issue and she continues to find new angles in the story that inform the reader without emotion or hysteria. Francis’s ability as a reporter is evident, and supported by her editor’s statement that she is ‘one of the best young journalists’ he has worked with during his time as editor.

Journalist of the Year

Sponsor: TAC


Olivia Shying, Geelong Advertiser

Shying tackles challenging issues, including domestic violence, with care, empathy and attention to detail. She builds trust with her subjects, enabling delicate storytelling.

Highly commended

Christopher Testa, Sunraysia Daily

Testa secured an interview with local Federal MP Andrew Broad, at the height of the scandal that cost Broad his career. The resulting stories delivered for both the local and national audiences. Testa’s work ethic demonstrates a commitment to quality journalism.


Greg Dundas, Geelong Advertiser

Dundas is acutely aware of who his audience is and delivers news that takes his readers with him into the courtroom. He easily transitions from breaking news to feature writing, with a style that evokes emotion without resorting to clichés. Dundas’ editor describes him as a role model and a leader, attributes evident in his journalism.

Media Outlet of the Year

Sponsor: CBRE


The Border Mail

The Border Mail didn’t just identify issues and report on them, it provided additional resources for those affected. It used its respect gained within the community to share stories of genuine heart break in a bid to gain change. It also used skilled writing and excellent photography to showcase the human element of serious issues like drought. 

Highly Commended

ABC Gippsland

One of the hardest working, most productive ABC outfits in the state, and not just the regional studios. Like all ABC outlets, they do a great job especially during emergencies. Their entry was brilliantly presented and impressed from the get go.

Gippsland is a strong news area and ABC covers it extremely well with an excellent crew overall. Of particular importance was the coverage of Gippsland ‘s drought forcing an otherwise negligent government to take notice and, of course, their bushfire coverage.


The Riverine Herald

The Riverine Herald has shown the imagination and skill of a daily newspaper in a tri-weekly format. It has set an example for all smaller papers of what can be achieved. Its extensive coverage of the State Government’s refusal to fund a school for in-need students was commendable for finding fresh angles and applying pressure until the Government relented. Its multi-media approach, culminating in live coverage of Australia first shoulder surgery in the Echua Hospital’s operating theatre, was innovative. The paper is genuinely interesting, making it increasingly relevant to its readers.