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About the Walkley Documentary Award

This award recognises excellence in documentary production that is grounded in the principles of journalism – accuracy, impact, public benefit, ethics, creativity, research and reporting – together with rigorous filmmaking.

The award is open to a variety of documentary storytelling styles and the judges will be looking for courage and creativity in concept, approach and execution. Documentaries may encompass in-depth examination of issues of local, national or international importance or of contemporary or historic events and may include investigative, biographical and first-person stories that reflect the emotion and drama of the human experience.

Entries must be at least 40 minutes in length and no more than three hours. 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 e.g. the first three episodes.

Read our Terms and Conditions and Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have any questions please contact Estelle Fu,, +61 452 560 226

A longlist of six films were announced for the 2022 Walkley Documentary Award on September 29, 2022. Read the full announcement here.

2022 Walkley Documentary Award-winner

Karl Malakunas, Thoughtful Robot Productions

In Delikado, three environmental defenders are tested like never before in their battle to save their home, Palawan, an island paradise in the Philippines from the illegal destruction of its forests, fisheries, and mountains.

2021 Walkley Documentary Award-winner

Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra
Ivan O’Mahoney, Wayne Blair and Nel Minchin, In Films, ABC

This documentary marks Bangarra Dance Theatre’s 30th anniversary, interweaving three threads: the history of the company itself, the social-political context, and the personal narrative of the three Aboriginal brothers at the heart of the company’s rise – Stephen, Russell and David Page. The filmmaking team worked hard over three years to gain access to the company and build trust with them, and to tell the story with cultural sensitivity.

About the winners

Producer Ivan O’Mahoney is the co-founder of In Films, a NSW-based documentary production company. O’Mahoney was a UN peacekeeper and lawyer in Europe before switching careers. A Walkley-winning documentary-maker, he has worked in longform storytelling at CNN, BBC and leading independent production companies.

Writer and director Wayne Blair’s other recent film credits include The Sapphires, Septembers of Shiraz and Top End Wedding. As an actor, his role in television series Mystery Road earned him a 2018 AACTA Award. He co-directed the second season of Mystery Road with Warwick Thornton. 

Nel Minchin is writer, director and co-producer of Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra, her debut feature documentary. Her TV documentaries include AACTA-nominated Matilda and Me, Making Muriel and Capturing Cricket: Steve Waugh in India for the ABC.

2020 Walkley Documentary Award winner

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

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.


“The Australian Dream”


GoodThing Productions, Passion Pictures UK and ABC




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.

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