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(Photo: “The End of the Caliphate” by Chris McGrath, the 2019 Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year.)

The Humanitarian Storytelling Award is administered by The Walkley Foundation on behalf of The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Millions of people around the world feel the humanitarian fallout from conflict every day. Wars are longer, increasingly fought in cities, and often between more armed groups with deadlier weapons than ever before. The human cost of conflict can be obscured when it takes place oceans away. The Humanitarian Storytelling Award seeks to elevate the unheard stories of communities affected by armed conflict and other forms of violence. It celebrates storytelling that does no harm, respects dignity, is inclusive, compassionate and people-focused. It recognises the role that journalists play in defending dignity and highlighting that even wars have limits.

2023 Entries have closed. Finalists will be announced on May 25. The winners will be announced at the Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism on June 15.

About the ICRC

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, impartial and independent, humanitarian organisation that works in more than 100 countries and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. The ICRC helps people affected by armed conflict and other violence, doing everything they can to protect lives, well-being and dignity, and to relieve suffering, often together with their Red Cross and Red Crescent partners.

As the guardian of humanitarian law, the ICRC takes measures to ensure respect for, to promote, to reaffirm and even to clarify and develop this body of law. The organisation is particularly concerned about possible erosion of international humanitarian law and takes bilateral, multilateral or public steps to promote respect for and development of the law. The ICRC does not ‘take sides’ in a conflict, but works to assist those impacted, whoever they are. This neutrality gives ICRC staff the ability to access areas others cannot.

The ICRC needs to have the trust of all States, parties and people involved in a conflict or other situation of violence to carry out its work effectively. This trust is based in particular on an awareness of the ICRC’s policies and practices. The ICRC gains people’s trust through continuity of their work and their neutrality.

2023 winners:

Matthew Davis and Peter O’Donoghue, Foreign Correspondent, ABC, “Myanmar’s Forgotten War”  (1, 2, 3)

Judging criteria

The Humanitarian Storytelling Award recognises the work of an individual, team or news organisation that highlights the impact of conflict on people and communities.

Examples might focus on the impact of conflict and climate change, sexual violence, migration, displacement, detention, gender or disability in war, as well as emerging trends in conflict, including new weapons technologies, and humanitarian action.

Eligible formats include rolling coverage, a series of news reports or features, or a single longform piece. Entries can be of any medium (text, radio or visual) and published on any platform (print, broadcast, online and social media).

Entries must demonstrate how the reporting was realised, how the below criteria were considered and represented and provide evidence of impact. Judges will also consider deadlines, resources and other pressures or dangers faced by entrants.

Judges will evaluate submissions according to the following criteria:

  • Focus on people affected by or the impact of conflict, rather than the politics of conflict.
  • Representation of people that is inclusive, compassionate, preserves dignity, and does no harm.
  • Participation by communities or individuals featured in the story in aspects of the storytelling itself – we want to see the diversity of experiences of people living through armed conflict.
  • Opportunities to elevate diverse voices, prioritising those of marginalised groups and communities.
  • Awareness of and sensitivity to the risks people made vulnerable by conflict may be exposed to when sharing their story.
  • Focus on neutral, impartial and non-political storytelling.
  • Impact and public benefit.
  • Adherence to ethical standards.
  • Time constraints and resources available.
  • Innovation, enterprise or courage.
  • Highlight stories in other countries around the world, with less of a focus on Australia or Australian involvement.

Conditions of entry

Entries may be a single piece or a body of work up to three pieces. All forms of media are accepted. Entries are open to works produced in languages other than English but a full English transcript must be provided.

Each entry to the Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism is judged on how well it responds to: 

  • the category description; and 
  • judging criteria. 

Please note the Humanitarian Storytelling Award is subject to its own judging criteria (detailed above).

Entry fee

Entry is free for members of MEAA. The cost of entering the award for non-members is $50 including GST.  Inquiries about MEAA membership please contact for further details or call 1300 656 513.


For questions on the award entry process, please contact: 

Kym Middleton or +61 401 512 583

For questions about the ICRC and its mission, please contact: 

Sarah Davies, Communications Officer or +61 418 485 120.

Further resources

2022 Winner

Winner: Andrew Quilty, Harper’s Magazine, “When the Raids Came

The judges said: In “‘When the raids came’ Andrew Quilty took us to the remote province of Maidan Wardak and to the family home of Abdul Jalisco Anees. Over two and a half years he pieced together the event that destroyed their lives: a raid, four dead, collateral damage and radicalisation. Through this meticulous and empathetic telling of their ordeal he contextualises the failures of government and international intervention in Afghanistan and its human toll. Transformative storytelling.”

Andrew Quilty
lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, from 2013 until after the Taliban took control of the country in 2021, working first as a photojournalist and later as a writer. He has won ten Walkley Awards, including the Gold Walkley in 2016, as well as George Polk Award, World Press Photo Awards and an Overseas Press Club of America award.



2022 Finalists

2022 finalists were announced on May 26:

Read the full list of Mid-Year Celebration finalists here. The winners will be announced at the Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism on June 15.

Humanitarian Storytelling Award winners

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