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The Walkley Board has announced a one-off change to this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Journalism award to redress the lack of honours for high-achieving women in our industry. As part of the launch of the 68th Walkley Awards, the directors of the Walkley Foundation have issued a callout for nominations of significant female journalists.

Of the 30 awards granted since 1992 only seven have been awarded to women. Two were granted to organisations. Since the award’s inception, 21 men have been honoured.

A portrait of journalist Eliza Ann Ashton who often published under the byline Faustine. Portrait painted by her husband, the artist Julian Ashton

“This clearly does not reflect the make-up of our industry and the contributions women have made to the media industry over the decades,” said Adele Ferguson, Chair of the Walkley Foundation board.

“We realised as a board that we must do better.”

In order for us to explore this large gender gap, the board hired a senior journalist to look into our industry’s great women.

Project Faustine was named in honour of 19th-century journalist Eliza Ann Ashton who used Faustine as a byline for some of her stories published in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph.

Dozens of women were discovered in this project – some are well-known, others are pioneers in their communities, many have toiled away behind the scenes. The nominations for this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Journalism award are expected to identify many more.  

As the recent Gender Scorecard released by Women in Media highlights, despite the prevalence of women in our industry, the bylines, headlines, and experts quoted are still largely men.

The Outstanding Contribution to Journalism award is a decision of the Walkley Foundation board of directors with input from the journalism community. It is separate from the regular judging process of the Walkley Awards, which is carried out by the Walkley Judging Board.

As a result of their research, this year the Walkley directors have agreed to recognise multiple women in this category.

“As a board, we have realised that in giving one of our industry’s highest accolades, we have not considered all of those who have contributed. The numbers speak for themselves.

“This won’t change unless we are proactive as an industry,” Ms Ferguson said.

“We will maintain the rigorous standards expected of the Walkley Foundation while raising up those women who deserve to be recognised.” 

Nominations for the Outstanding Contribution to Journalism are now open on the Walkley Foundation website and will close on August 31, 2023. This year the directors will only consider women nominees as they seek to redress the gender balance in recipients. The winners will be announced at the 68th Walkley Awards gala dinner in Sydney on November 23, 2023.

The directors – Adele Ferguson (Chair), Karen Percy (Deputy Chair), Michael Brissenden (Judging Board Chair), Erin Delahunty, Victoria Laurie and Leigh Tonkin – are proud to be undertaking Project Faustine and look forward to seeing the nominations from our journalist community.

Past winners of the Outstanding Contribution to Journalism award are:

Peter Bowers (1992), Robert M Duffield (1994), John Stubbs (1995), Max Fatchen (1996), Paul Chadwick (1997), Maurie Ferry (1998), Tony Koch (1999), Paul Murphy (2000), Estelle Blackburn (2001), Quentin Dempster (2002), Julie Duncan (2003), Phil Wilkins (2004), Australian Cartoonists’ Association (2005), Colleen Egan (2006), Gerard Noonan (2007), Pamela Bone (2008), Tony Stephens (2009), Cameron Forbes (2010), Wikileaks (2011), Peter Cave (2012), Caroline Jones (2013), Peter Greste (2014), Trevor Sykes (2014), Bruce Petty (2016), Michael Gordon (2017), Sean Dorney (2018), Sue Spencer (2019), Ross Gittins (2020), George Negus (2021) and Sally Neighbour (2022).

For further comment please contact: 

James Gorman

Communications manager

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