Australian Story, ABC TV




All Media: Social Equity Journalism

“Searching for C11” – the search by donor-conceived children for their biological fathers –uncorked Australia’s untold story in the age of IVF. Australian Story followed three young women searching to make sense of laws written in the 1980s that prevented them knowing who their donor fathers were.

The culmination of two years’ work, Belinda Hawkins’ story charts the human cost of reproductive treatments and examines complex issues surrounding donor confidentiality. It highlights the rights of the child, while raising serious questions about legislative shortfall and the practices of donor insemination clinics. It follows one of the women, Lauren Burns, as she discovers she is the grandchild of Professor Manning Clark, and captures the moment when she meets the wider Clark family. 

Belinda Hawkins’ revelations that original patient records at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital were deliberately damaged prompted an internal investigation, while NSW MP John Barilaro called for an independent inquiry. The Victorian Upper House passed groundbreaking legislation several days after the second part of the program was aired.      

Belinda Hawkins has reported on national and international events for ABC TV and SBS TV for 30 years, filing from countries as diverse as Nigeria, Eritrea, Cuba, Germany and Russia. 

For the past 15 years, she has been a senior journalist with ABC’s Australian Story. She has won many awards for her documentary work, including four United Nations Media Peace Awards, and this is her second Walkley.   

Judges’ comments:

This story had an impressive dramatic tension, and handled with nuance a complex ethical and social issue that will only get bigger as more donor-conceived children come forward for answers. Hawkins framed an issue that wasn’t in the public consciousness and put it into the public domain. It’s the essence of what the social equity category is about – compelling storytelling with powerful impact that leaves the viewer better informed.”