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Recipients of the 2020 Judith Neilson Institute Freelance Grants for Asian Journalism

Established by the Walkley Foundation, the Judith Neilson Institute Freelance Grant for Asian Journalism aims to encourage more and better reporting on Asia by Australian media professionals and news outlets.

Grants worth a total of $25,000 have been awarded to three freelance journalists.

  • Aarti Betigeri, “Lucky You: A podcast exploring the perils of intercountry adoption”

The judges said Aarti Betigeri’s pitch for a podcast series on the inter-country adoption of children into Australia from Korea and elsewhere in Asia promises a revelatory look at a practice that was commonplace for decades. The telling of this story is essential not only for those directly affected and their families, but for policymakers considering this complex issue. The decision to fund the project was a vote of confidence for both the depth of the idea and Aarti Betigeri’s proven ability to deliver meaningful journalism in an Asian context.

  • Mell Chun, “Podcast: Tasmania’s Chinese history”

The judges were excited by Mell Chun’s plan to tell the story of the long and rich history of Chinese settlers in Tasmania via her podcast. She will explore the Chinese influence on Tasmania’s culture and economy and illuminate forgotten or little known facts about the impact of Chinese settlement. Mell writes, “We often view people of colour as ‘newcomers’, but learning about the history of immigration helps us to understand that Australia’s heritage is not so white as we might imagine.” This is a timely project, in the judges’ view, and will provide an insight into underexplored community history in Tasmania’s rural and regional areas.

The judges said The Wait podcast, co-hosted by Nicole Curby and Mozhgan Moarefizadeh with supervising producer Michael Green, explores one of the most damaging but untold ramifications of Australia’s asylum policies – refugees stuck in Indonesia. Drawing on Mozhgan’s personal experience as a refugee caught in transit for seven years, they provide context to Australia’s often simplistic immigration debate. Together they unpack difficult issues around border protection and national identity, and raise questions about the political rhetoric of immigration, the nature of protection, and where borders lie.


  • Zoe Daniel, Journalist, ABC
  • Patrick Elligett, News Director, The Age
  • Ben Doherty, Acting Pacific Editor, Guardian
  • Prue Clarke, Senior Executive Officer, Judith Neilson Institute

These grants are supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

Quick links: Terms & Conditions | Frequently Asked Questions | Judging Criteria

Why a grant for Asian journalism?

Asia is now the most important region in the world. It’s home to half the world’s population and its economy is bigger than the rest of the world combined. Few countries are as closely bound to the region’s future as Australia, yet coverage of Asia does not always keep pace with Asia’s importance. The goal of these grants is to support freelance journalists doing high-quality journalism that tells the region’s most important stories in intelligent and compelling ways.

Contact us

For questions on the grants program, please contact

The Walkley Public Fund for Journalism

These grants are funded by the Walkley Foundation’s Public Fund. The industry needs more from us, and to provide that kind of support, we need help to grow the Walkley Public Fund. The Fund is an opportunity for individuals and organisations to come together and show their support for journalism, and the vital role that it plays in supporting democracy, with a tax-deductible donation.

You can find out more about the fund, what we support, and how to donate here.

Want to support great storytelling in the public interest through a grant? Get in touch with us.

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