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Walkley Grants for Freelance Journalism

Why is the Walkley Foundation giving out grants for reporting?

The Walkley Foundation benchmarks the best in Australian journalism and also supports the industry through training, mentoring, scholarships, fellowships and a public program that encourages all Australians to value quality journalism. Providing grants to fund the production of original journalism in the public interest not only supports Australian journalists, but Australian news organisations as well.  

How are these grants funded?

The grants are allocated from the Walkley Public Fund for Journalism. Since establishing DGR status, the Walkley Foundation has been building the fund with money raised through donors, bequests and foundations. You can find out more about the Walkley Public Fund here.

Who can apply?

Australian freelance journalists. Applicants can enter as individuals or groups of up to three members (all freelance journalists).

Who judges the grant applications?

A steering committee of senior Australian journalists from a range of media organisations. All the judges will be announced when the successful projects are announced.

What are the judges looking for?

The judges will fund original journalism with public interest value and impact on the theme “Reporting Regional Australia”. They are looking for applications that have a clear plan for how to tell the story, a clear understanding of the costs, and a commitment from a publisher or broadcaster to get the story to an Australian audience.

They’re looking for stories that haven’t been published or pitched before. Stories that surprise, educate and make a difference. The kind of stories that inspire news editors and readers alike, and that newsrooms may not have the resources to support. These grants are for journalism that makes an impact – so think about the audience for your story and the best distribution channels to reach them. The judges want freelance journalists from all sectors and backgrounds to apply with pitches for reportage, features and news stories (not essays or opinion). 

What kind of work can I pitch?

In 2020 we are calling for stories on the theme “Reporting Regional Australia”. The judges are looking for stories that haven’t been told before, from and about regional communities, industries, environments, economies, justice and politics. You can pitch a story or project in any medium (or multimedia), so long as it is in the public interest.

How do you define “regional Australia”?

“Regional” shall be taken to include areas and towns outside of Australian capital cities and the ACT, but does include Darwin.

Do I have to live in a region or publish/broadcast my work in a regional organisation?

While we do hope to support regionally-based freelance journalists and organisations, we also welcome applications from metropolitan freelance journalists who intend to spend time in regional Australia covering stories from those areas. Commitments from national and metropolitan publishers and broadcasters are also eligible, as long as the proposed stories are relevant to the theme.

What is public interest journalism?

Public interest journalism is journalism that informs citizens as part of our democratic system. It is journalism that aims to make a difference, with tangible public benefit to the community. It could include: Good civic journalism which gives a voice to the voiceless in our community; journalism which starts a public debate on an important issue; journalism which exposes incompetence or wrongdoing by those who should be working for the common good, especially in government or any institutions affecting the public; journalism which points to solutions to important issues within the community or society which it serves.

How do I apply?

Apply using the online application form. It is free to apply. As well as your contact details, you will also be asked to describe your story idea in detail, demonstrating that you have a plan for sources and research, and contingency plans, for example how you will proceed if an FOI request doesn’t yield the data you’re expecting. 

You’ll be asked to upload a one page CV, and a letter of commitment from a co-publisher who is interested in working with you on the story (download a template here – if the file doesn’t automatically download, disable your pop-up blockers or open in a different browser). You’ll also need to complete a budget for the project using our template (find it here), who the audience is and what impact you think the project will have. Applications close at midnight on Friday May 29, 2020.

Can I apply with an idea that is already in production?

As long as it hasn’t been published elsewhere and is still a freelance project, yes. For example, a project that you ran out of resources for and couldn’t finish. But a project that is completed and awaiting publication/broadcast would not be eligible.

How long a story should I pitch?

It’s up to you and your publisher. Be realistic about what your story needs and what you are capable of, and budget accordingly. It may be a single piece, a series of articles, a podcast series, a multimedia project. Just have a clearly defined outcome you are confident you can deliver. 

Why do I need to provide a budget?

Seeing an outline of the costs you anticipate helps the judges decide how much funding to allocate, and also gives them insight into how you plan to approach your reporting. We have provided a simple template for you to complete, which you can find here. You should include any additional funding and budget to be paid for your time. 

What should I include in my budget?

The grants are intended to cover reporting costs directly related to the project, which may include reporters’ time, travel, research, insurance and support.

How much can I apply for?

The total pool of funding available is $50,000 so you can’t apply for a project bigger than that. The judging committee will allocate grants according to merit and the budgets submitted, to fund reporting costs directly related to the project (which may include reporters’ time, travel, research and support). Don’t be afraid to think big, but be realistic about the costs.

Do I have to show my own contribution?

You don’t have to, but you may like to.

Can I seek additional funding from other sources?

Yes. Please mention any additional funding when you outline your budget in your application.

Can I apply more than once?

No, applicants can only apply once.

Can I enter with a partner/group?

Yes, groups of up to three people can apply but all group members must be freelance journalists.

I work for a newsroom—can I apply?


Can I be employed full time but doing freelance work on the side and this my project?


What if I become employed after I apply?

We understand that things can change. Please let us know if your circumstances change.

When does it need to be published?

Projects should be completed and published within nine months of the winners announcement. 

When will I know if my application has been successful?

Successful projects will be announced at a date to be confirmed. All applicants will be contacted.

My newsroom has an idea—can we apply?

The grants are not open to media organisations or journalists employed full-time. If your newsroom wants to work on a collaborative project with a freelancer, the freelancer would need to apply for the grant and the grant would be paid to them only.

Can my publication pair up with a project or republish the funded stories?

If you’d like to express interest in this, please email

How can I support the grants/fund?

You may like to consider making a donation of any size to the Walkley Public Fund. You can find out more about the fund and donate here.

Can I talk to someone about this?

For further questions on the grants program, please contact Barbara Blackman: or 0425 297 082

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