UTS has dominated in the student journalism categories at the Walkleys 2021 Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism Awards, taking out the top honour and securing one of three industry fellowships.

Georgio Platias, a dual communications/law student, was named Student Journalist of the Year for his video documentary Inside Out: Mohsen’s Story that was published on the department’s student website Central News, and for his podcast Politics, Leadership and Public Policy with Peter van Onselen.

Last year Platias also took out the Alan Knight Student Award at the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Communications Awards for the best piece of student journalism about cultural diversity. The award is named after the former head of UTS Journalism.

Platias’s Industry Portfolio tutor, Helen Vasikopoulos, praised his work as “exceptional” and the award as “thoroughly deserved”.

“Georgio is passionate about social justice and visual storytelling and he has mastered both in this sensitive and powerful profile of a man escaping persecution in one country only to be incarcerated in another,” she said.

“This is one of the joys of teaching the next generation of journalists. Georgio is a student who is hungry for the truth.”


The fourth year student was not short of company last night, and in a clean sweep of nominees both runners-up for Student Journalist, Emily Kowal and Stephanie Tran, also hailed from UTS.

Tran’s work State capture: top corporations identified as members of both Liberal and Labor parties on the Michael West media site and Kowal’s longform article The Haunting of Woodford Academy on Central News both received high praise from the judges.

Talented law and communications student Rafqa Touma rounded out a successful night for UTS journalism students when she picked up a JNI Opportunity fellowship to work at Guardian Australia.

These students reflect the astounding work happening at UTS Journalism

UTS’s Head of Journalism Saba Bebawi commended both the students and their lecturers.

“‘We are so proud of our journalism students’ achievements at the Walkleys last night, showcasing the high standard of work in the Student Journalist of the Year category awarded to Georgio Platias, and of the well-deserved acknowledgment of Rafqa Touma as winner of the JNI Opportunity Fellowship with the Guardian Australia,” she said.

“These students reflect the astounding work happening at UTS Journalism and I would like to congratulate them and the lecturers who supported them.”


Georgio accepts his award. The Walkleys are journalism’s most prestigious awards. Photo: Central News

The Walkley Foundation hands out Australian journalism’s most prestigious awards, with the section for Young Australian Journalist of the Year sponsored by John B. Fairfax of the Fairfax media dynasty.

Last night he pledged a further $1 million donation to the awards to ensure their continuation over the next decade.

Speaking at the event at the Ivy Ballroom in central Sydney Mr Fairfax said: “It gives us great satisfaction to support the Young Journalist of the Year award alongside the Walkley Foundation. I hope that in 10 years time I might once again be invited to make a few remarks and be able to reflect on the outstanding talent of those who have received the award.

“As we see daily there are so many important stories to be told and we need you talented journalists to tell them.”

Main picture: UTS students (l-r) Stephanie Tran, Georgio Platias, Emily Kowal and Rafqa Touma on stage at the Mid-Year Walkleys last night. Photo: Martin Newman/Central News