Entries have now closed. Finalists will be announced on October 21, 2021.

The Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism are presented annually in Australia to recognise and reward the best in the craft. Finalists are selected by eminent journalists and photographers and overall winners judged by the Walkley Judging Board.

The awards cover all media and have grown organically over the years, expanding to encompass the changing nature of the media industry and innovation in journalism. More than 1400 entries are received each year across 30 categories. The Walkleys also recognise excellence in longform journalism through the Walkley Book and Documentary awards. The Gold Walkley is the most prestigious award, chosen from all category winners.

The Walkley Awards exist to recognise “creative and courageous acts of journalism that seek out the truth and give new insight to an issue”. They reward excellence, independence, innovation and originality in storytelling and distinctive reporting. This can be through research and investigations, well-crafted and innovative presentations, news-breaking single stories and engaging, entertaining and/or informative reporting.

All entries must have been published, broadcast or televised in Australia in the 12 months from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021. Eligibility for the Walkley Awards is based on independent acts of journalism, free from any commercial or corporate interests.

Whether you’re a longtime entrant or a newbie, make sure you review the category descriptionsterms and conditions and FAQs before you enter.

The Walkley Awards entry fee has been reduced by half, from $295 to $150. MEAA members still get the best deal, with free entry as part of their membership. Read a post with useful links and information for entering here.

2021 Walkley Documentary Award: Eligibility and How to Enter

Entries for the 2021 Walkley Award for Documentary open on July 1 and close August 31.

Entries can comprise any nonfiction film made for cinema, broadcast or web release with a running time of at least 40 minutes and a maximum time of three hours, not including entirely scripted or improvised fictionalisations of actual events. If the documentary is part of a series that exceeds the three-hour limit entrants must choose the three hours of content they wish to be judged on (i.e. the first three episodes).

Entries that have appeared within regularly scheduled television current affairs programs must be documentary in nature and execution.

Number of entrants: The named entrant(s) should be the individual(s) most involved in the key journalistic and creative aspects of the filmmaking process. A maximum of three people may be designated as entrants, at least one of whom must be the credited director who exercised directorial control.

2020 Walkley Documentary Award winner

Congratulations Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton and Tony Jones, winners of the 2020 Walkley Documentary Award

Revelation
ABC and In Films

The Revelation team set out to achieve a series of television firsts — to interview Catholic priest sex offenders and film their trials. The level of difficulty in achieving those ambitions was enormous.  

In the long-running scandal of clerical abuse in Australia, there was one voice that hadn’t been heard: the perpetrators. Revelation took cameras into courts to film the criminal trials of priests and brothers accused of sex crimes against children. Sarah Ferguson also conducted interviews with two of the church’s worst offenders. Conscious of the risk they were taking putting these criminals on camera, the team had to be sure the material would justify the affront of seeing and hearing them. 

Sarah Ferguson is one of Australia’s most respected and successful investigative journalists and film-makers. Her work has secured her reputation, along with an increasing global profile, built on hard-hitting interviews with international figures. Ferguson has received multiple journalistic and film-making awards, including the Gold Walkley, six Logies and AACTA awards for Best Documentary.  

Nial Fulton is an award-winning producer of internationally recognised films. He puts cameras where access has never before been granted, as seen in the critically acclaimed US series Borderland and award-winning series on domestic violence, Hitting Home. Fulton has received many awards, including AACTA and Walkley awards for documentary.  

Tony Jones has covered seminal news events of the last two decades, from the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, through the collapse of apartheid in South Africa to the rise of the Taliban. He co-created and presented Q&A, Australia’s leading news panel program. He has received multiple awards for his work, including six Walkleys. 

Judges’ comment

This haunting documentary broke new ground on an issue already well covered by the media and investigated by police and the Royal Commission alike. The extraordinary access to some of the Catholic Church’s most notorious perpetrators of sexual abuse against children, as well as the insight it gave viewers into court proceedings, showed just how powerful journalistic documentary-making can be.

2019 Walkley Documentary Award winner

Congratulations to Stan Grant and team, winners of the 2019 Walkley Documentary Awards

The remarkable story of Indigenous AFL player Adam Goodes is at the heart of The Australian Dream. Writer Stan Grant and the filmmaking team use Goodes’ experience as the prism through which to tell a deeper and even more powerful story about race, identity and belonging. Reflecting in detail on the 2013, 2014 and 2015 AFL seasons, and the events that led Goodes to leave the game, the documentary asks fundamental questions about the nature of racism and discrimination in society today.

Stan Grant, a proud Wiradjuri man, has more than 30 years’ experience in radio and television news and current affairs. Grant spent 10 years as a senior international correspondent for CNN in Asia and the Middle East. He won the 2015 Walkley Award for Coverage of Indigenous Affairs and his book, Talking to My Country, won the 2016 Walkley Book Award.

Title

“The Australian Dream”

Publication

GoodThing Productions, Passion Pictures UK and ABC

Year

2019

Category

Documentary award

2018 Walkley Documentary Award-winner

Myanmar’s Killing Fields, Evan Williams, Eve Lucas and Georgina Davies, Dateline, SBS

Through exclusive access to videos and members of the Rohingya network who risked jail and execution, Evan Williams, Eve Lucas and Georgina Davies were able to prove that violence unleashed by the Myanmar army in late August 2017 was part of a long-standing campaign by the  military to systematically force all of the Rohingya out of the country permanently. They started with videos of civilians wounded and killed by the Myanmar forces as they fled their burning villages. Then they spent six months finding the people in those videos, cross-checking multiple accounts and sources. The documentary is being used as a key reference point by investigators from the US State Department and the UN Fact Finding Mission.

About the winners

Evan Williams has more than 20 years’ experience as a TV news and current affairs reporter and producer. From 1992 to 1997 he was the ABC’s correspondent in South East Asia and then worked as a reporter on Foreign Correspondent. He reports regularly on SBS Dateline.

Eve Lucas is a freelance producer specialising in international current affairs. She produced a documentary that won a 2014 Emmy Award. In 2013, Lucas filmed and directed for Al Jazeera’s 101 East series in Tajikistan and Sri Lanka. She has worked as a field producer for SBS Dateline throughout Europe.

Georgina Davies has been making longform programs for 20 years. She started as a researcher on Seven’s Today Tonight, worked at BBC Current Affairs in London, and joined SBS Dateline in 2015. She became series producer in 2017 and acting executive producer in October 2018.

View Winner Profile

Past winners

2017 Winners

A Sense of Self

Martin Butler, Liz Jackson, Bentley Dean and Tania Nehme, ABC TV

Award-winning television journalist Liz Jackson is no stranger to making incisive reports, but this film was new territory. Jackson had the role of both subject and storyteller in this account of her descent into Parkinson’s disease. Made by three close friends and co-directors – Jackson, her husband Martin Butler and director of photography Bentley Dean – A Sense of Self is built on a foundation of trust that allowed for a truly raw, intimate and compelling documentary about degenerative disease and its effects on a family. It’s fearless reporting, with heartbreak and humour, and touched a nerve with more than a million Australians.

2016 Winners

Hitting Home

Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton and Ivan O’Mahoney

Hitting Home went beyond an excellent news/current affairs story. It both exploited the momentum at the time of broadcast around domestic violence and propelled the issue much further, engaging viewers in complexities of gender control and violence, viscerally confronting male perpetrators and showing impact on families. It revealed compassionately that domestic violence affects all classes of women. A powerful window into a national crisis and a call to arms.

2015 Winner

Only the Dead

Michael Ware

Only the Dead is Australian correspondent Michael Ware’s documentary retrospective of seven years, beginning with the “Coalition of the Willing’s” invasion of Iraq in 2003. It records the birth of the Islamic State in 2003, reveals a US war crime committed by soldiers in 2007, and takes you to the front lines of the conflict’s greatest battles. The film also crosses over to the other side, to insurgent training camps and attacks against US forces. Ware’s work as a frontline reporter resulted in his extraordinary access to the creator of IS, Abu Mousab al Zarqawi, and IS’s videoed atrocities of suicide bombings in Baghdad and the first of its ritualised beheadings.