Winner: Andrew Quilty, The Monthly and The Intercept, “The Worst Form of Defence: New revelations of Australian war crimes in Afghanistan” and “The CIA’s Afghan Death Squads”.

“This is what journalism is,” the judges said. “Andrew Quilty focused on telling the people’s stories and exposing the truth, despite putting himself in grave danger to tell the stories that demand to be told. Quilty’s continued in-depth coverage, years of research, intimate knowledge of a people, culture, country and the conflict that continues to destroy the lives of so many for generations to come is evident.

“Powerfully written with such eloquence, delivering the horrific accounts of war crimes and suffering inflicted on civilians, that is also seen in his images that are emotive and deeply respectful. These stories expose the killings, abuses and injustices that may constitute war crimes and the failure to protect Afghanistan civilians.”

Andrew Quilty
has been based in Kabul, Afghanistan, since 2013, working first as a photojournalist and more recently as a writer. He has won six Walkley Awards, including the Gold Walkley in 2016, as well as the George Polk Award, World Press Photo Awards and, most recently, an Overseas Press Club of America award.

Millions of people around the world feel the humanitarian fallout from conflict every day. Wars are longer, increasingly fought in cities, 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.

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

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. We help people affected by armed conflict and other violence, doing everything we can to protect lives, well-being and dignity, and to relieve suffering, often together with our Red Cross and Red Crescent partners.

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.
  • Opportunities to elevate diverse voices, prioritising those of marginalised groups and communities.
  • Awareness of 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.

Conditions of entry

  • Submissions are open to all journalists working in mainstream, community or alternative media, as individuals or in collaboration with others on projects.
  • Entries are open to work produced in languages other than English but a full transcript must be provided.
  • Entries may be single pieces or may consist of up to three pieces of work to represent a body of work. All forms of media are accepted.
  • Entries must have been published, broadcast or televised in Australia from April 27, 2020 through to April 26, 2021.
  • Eligibility for the Humanitarian Storytelling Award is based on independent acts of journalism, free from any commercial or corporate interests.
  • All entrants must certify that the entry is their original work. Apart from standard sub-editorial/production treatment, submissions must adhere to the MEAA Code of Ethics in their preparation; undertake to abide by this Code of Ethics; and have complied with all copyright requirements.
  • Read the full Terms and Conditions here.
  • Read the Frequently Asked Questions here.

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.

If you have any further questions, please contact either:

Marcus Raue or 0437 762 715

Lauren Dixon or 0413 212 890

Humanitarian Storytelling Award winners