Students at UTS have taken home a range of awards at the annual JERAA Ossies for journalism and also triumphed at the Democracy’s Watchdogs award last night.

All up six students were announced winners at the Ossies’ ceremony at Perth’s PanPacific Hotel on Wednesday night, while another six were highly commended.

Grace Stranger won her third award in two years, this time for Best Data Journalism; Aston Brown, who was runner-up last year in the Short-form Video category was named winner second time around in Long-form Video for his piece on graffiti artists; Katelyn Milligan won the undergrad Ethics Essay with an assessment from her Media Law and Ethics class; first-year student Emily Leventhal won Best Photojournalism for a photo essay on the last days of Frankie’s Pizza; and fellow fresher James Fitzgerald-Sice won the Crikey Award for Investigative Journalism by an undergraduate for his Michael West story on click-and-collect scammers.

Brooke took on a challenging topic which tackles a sad and significanside of gambling impact.

Brooke Young, whose audio investigation into suicidal ideation and deaths caused by gambling debt and addiction, won the Mindframe Award for mental health reporting, and backed up the following night at the Democracy’s Watchdogs awards to take out the $1,000 prize in the audio or video category.

The Watchdogs judges praised Young’s exposé which found “a concerning lack of statistics and research” into the problem, and both sets of judges lauded her identification of reforms and practical help.

Lecturer Catriona Bonfiglioli, who supervised Young on the piece for her Journalism Major Project, said: “I’m pleased and proud to see Brooke’s work recognised. She took on a challenging topic which tackles a sad and significanside of gambling impact with maturity and sensitivity.”


Students took home six main awards and six high commendations at the Ossies. Photo: Central News.

Six other highly commended certificates were awarded to runners-up at the Ossies: Elena Garcia Araujo in Investigative Journalism for her story on COVID pushing Western Sydney into recession; Georgia Vaughan for her Short-form Video of the Wiggles meeting fans on the spectrum; Zara Powell for Investigative Journalism for her exposé of flood relief scammers; Isabella Moore in the John Newfong Prize for Indigenous reporting for her video investigation into uranium contamination in outback water supplies; Jazmyn Gillies for Long-form Video for her documentary on Christian’s helping ex-convicts; and Sienna Martyn, Emilia Roux and Charlie McLean in the group Investigation category for their story on doctor shopping in the workers compensation industry.

Journalism head of discipline Saba Bebawi praised all the winners and runners-up.

“Investigative journalism is an essential form of journalism to be taught at journalism schools,” she said. “Such skills equip students not only in investigative reporting, but in reporting more generally.”

Other universities also fared well at the Ossies, in particular University of Queensland, Monash, RMIT and University of Melbourne, with an increased number of awards this year spread around more universities and colleges.

There is a lot of depth in the cohort and the department is spoilt for choice when it comes to these awards days.

Publication of the Year went to Monash’s MOJO News site for its ‘comprehensive’ federal election coverage and Student of the Year was awarded to University of Queensland’s Scout Wallen.

In addition to Young, four of the eight finalists in this year’s Democracy’s Watchdogs awards also came from UTS and were awarded highly commended certificates: Boushra Elkheir for her video documentary How the West Was Lost; Grace Stranger (twice) for her investigation into rural GPs and a podcast exposé on the lack of disaster risk planning for people with disabilities; and Roux, Martyn and McLean for doctor shopping.

Central News editor Martin Newman said: “As proud of the students as I am, I’m actually just as gob-smacked thinking about some of the entries we put in that didn’t win anything – that were also utterly awesome.

“There is a lot of depth in the cohort and the department is spoilt for choice when it comes to these awards days.”

Main image from Emily Leventhal’s winning photo essay.