Gold Walkley Award
Investigative Journalism Award
Attempts to report on allegations of war crimes encounter extreme obstacles, yet Mark Willacy’s unflinching investigations continue to expose alleged war crimes, suspected cover-ups and deep cultural problems within Australia’s special forces. He worked tirelessly to find sources within the secretive ranks of the Special Air Service Regiment, the SAS, and spent weeks verifying allegations with family members of alleged murder victims on the ground in war zones, producing gut-wrenching reports too powerful for the public and the defence hierarchy to ignore.
“Killing Field”, the result of a six-month investigation, included chilling helmet-camera footage of the killing of an unarmed Afghan civilian at the hands of an SAS soldier code-named “Soldier C”. The impact was immediate. The day after the broadcast, the Prime Minister said the images and allegations in the program were “shocking” and “alarming”. The revelations triggered an investigation by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force.
Mark Willacy is a reporter for ABC Investigations. He was an ABC correspondent in Jerusalem, Baghdad and Tokyo for a decade and has reported from more than 30 countries. He covered the 2003 Iraq War, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the 2011 Japan tsunami and nuclear meltdowns, and the 2018 Thai cave rescue. Brisbane-based Willacy has won five Walkley Awards and a Logie, and has twice been named Queensland Journalist of the Year.
“The shocking helmet camera footage, and Willacy’s sharp scripting and probing interviews, results in a compelling and brilliant investigation. Mark Willacy’s work was outstanding and it came after a series of investigations into war crimes in previous years, which together prompted the Brereton inquiry into war crimes. This has been one of the most significant stories of the year so congratulations Mark and the ABC team, this was brilliant work.”