Margaret Simons, David Tacon

Social Equity Journalism

Award Partner

The Monthly, “Fallen Angels: The children left behind by Australian sex tourists”

Fallen Angels: The children left behind by Australian sex tourists

When Margaret Simons and Dave Tacon visited a slum in the Philippines’ Angeles City they had no difficulty finding children who were the offspring of local women and foreign – usually much older – males. Tracing the fathers was more difficult, with many of the men either leaving no contact details or cutting contact after a short period of financial support. Weaving the personal with the bureaucratic labyrinth confronting the women attempting to seek redress through local and Australian agencies, the story reeks of resigned misery. However following publication, the reporters note some of the children featured have been sponsored by a group of Australian women and now have safer housing and are attending school – offering hope for a better future.

Margaret Simons is a freelance journalist and author, and the director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne, in charge of the Master of Journalism degree program. Her work has appeared in Fairfax Media, The Australian, The Monthly, The Guardian and many other publications. She has published 12 books spanning fiction, biography, media analysis, politics and gardening. Her most recent work includes the gardening book Six Square Metres, published by Scribe in 2015, and a biography of Kerry Stokes, Self Made Man, published by Penguin in 2013, which won the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for history.

Dave Tacon is a Shanghai-based photojournalist and the 2012 Freelance Journalist of the Year. His work has appeared in outlets such as Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Al Jazeera, GEO, Stern, Der Spiegel, ELLE, Corriere della Sera, The Fader, Die Welt, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Monument, Geographical, The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Walkley Magazine, The Diplomat and The Big Issue. Tacon’s portrait and photo-documentary work is held in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, the National Library of Australia and the State Library of Victoria.

This is the first Walkley Award for Simons and the second for Tacon.

Judges’ comments

For this exquisitely written feature, Simons visited a sex tourism district in the Philippines to expose the disturbing trend of Australian men fathering children to – and then abandoning – underage girls and young women in that country. Exposing an issue many Australians are unaware of, the story reveals significant failures by both the Australian and Filipino authorities. Tacon’s accompanying photographs are a crucial contribution to the story’s impact.