Swinburne University of Technology student Angus Delaney was nominated for the prestigious Student Journalist of the Year award at the Walkley Foundation’s Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism.
Separate from the Walkley awards, the Walkley Foundation presents and administers a suite of awards as part of the Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism, which recognises work across major media sectors including print, digital, television, radio, podcasts and photography.
Angus, who is studying a Bachelor of Media and Communications majoring in Journalism, was also a recipient of the prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarship and participated in a semester exchange at the University of South Pacific in Fiji.
It was there he undertook a body of freelance work that earned him the coveted journalism honour.
“I’m grateful to be recognised for the work I’ve done and the stories I’ve been able to tell,” Angus said.
“A lot of journalists I look up to have received Walkleys so it is really exciting to be able to feel more connected to the event and to them.”
Swinburne Media and communications Lecturer Peter Marcato said the Walkley awards recognise journalistic excellence and are a testament to the power of storytelling and its impact on society.
“This nomination recognises Angus’s dedication, skill and commitment to sharing important stories from the Pacific,” he said.
Fiji’s stray dog bloom
Angus’ articles highlight specific issues in the Pacific nation, which he says challenge Australian perceptions of Fiji.
One of these was on Fiji’s stray dog problem sparked after neutering services were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This has led to a soar in the population of stray dogs roaming the country,” Angus said.
“I worked with a friend and photographer Cooper Williams in reporting this story.
“We travelled across Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu to interview shelters and sanctuaries and had close encounters with hundreds of stray (and sometimes feisty) dogs.”
The fight for marriage equality
While Australia achieved marriage equality in 2016, it is still a widely contested issue in Fiji.
This is another issue Angus brought attention to through his reporting.
“The fight for marriage equality is a divisive topic even among the queer community and LGBTQIA+ activists, who believe that their time is better spent combating more general discrimination and violence against the community,” Angus said.
“I think the complexity of the issue, which is affected by Fiji’s militaristic history, the prominence of the church and the ever-present impact of colonialism, is something that Australians don’t realise, so I really enjoyed being able to shed light on the issue through my reporting.”
Ending the pay gap between male and female rugby players
Angus’s story on calls for Fiji to end the pay gap between men and women rugby players provided him an opportunity to practice his broadcasting skills.
“I’ve had some experience in the radio industry before so it was great to apply it in my freelance work,” he said.
“I interviewed people from the rugby industry and women’s rights movement in Fiji, then edited it together into a five minute package that played on ABC Pacific.
“Female rugby players don’t have equal pay or treatment in Fiji, so this story looked at the inequality from grassroots to professional levels and touched on the dilemma between pursuing something you love or making a living.”
Nurturing a love for journalism
Angus says that his time at Swinburne has inspired him to pursue his goals and develop his skillset.
“My lecturers and tutors at Swinburne have taught me the core aspects of written and broadcast media, provided valuable feedback and given up huge amounts of their time in supporting Swinburne’s student newsroom ‘The Burne’,” he said.
“Above all else, they have shown genuine interest in their students’ work and career development.
“Without their incredible teaching, particularly that of Corinna Hente and Peter Marcato, I wouldn’t have gone to Fiji, been able to work in media during my studies or even majored in journalism.”
The admiration is mutual, with Peter paying tribute to Angus’ talent and drive.
“Angus is a hard-working student with big dreams,” he said.
“This nomination is well-deserved, and affirms that his work has resonated, inspired and informed others based on what he’s been learning in the journalism program at Swinburne. I hope it propels him forward on the path to a very successful career in the field.”