Entries are now being accepted for the 2015 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award for journalists and communicators working in the rural sector. 

If you are 35-years-old or younger and would relish the opportunity to travel to New Zealand in October 2015 and meet your peers from around the world at the annual International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) congress, then this professional development award is for you.

Full details about the award and the IFAJ are available at

Entry form for Australian candidates are

Further information is also available by contacting Australian award coordinator Liz Harfull on 0409 674 941 or

Entries must be sent by email to ACAJ secretary Clarisa Collis at by 5pm on February 16, 2015. 

Please note:  Australian applicants must apply through the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ), using the attached entry form. A candidate to represent our country in the final international selection process will be chosen by the ACAJ. Final award recipients will then be selected by the IFAJ. Australian entries close on February 16, 2015, to allow time for the ACAJ to select the national candidate. The closing date on the IFAJ website is for national organisations only.

Australian rural journalists on top of the world


Victorians are amongst a group of Australian rural journalists and photographers who are on top of the world after dominating awards for journalistic excellence at an international conference in Argentina earlier this month

Australian journalists took a clean sweep of all the broadcast awards at this year’s International Federation of Agricultural Journalist’s Star Prizes.

On top of that a Victorian photographer also took out the top prize in the photography category beating entries from all over the world.

Geelong Advertiser photographer Peter Ristevski won the judges accolades and the top photography prize for his striking image which was the unanimous choice from more than 70 entries from around the world.

The photo of a horse trapped in mud with its distressed young owner cradling its head had a happy ending when the exhausted animal was safely rescued. Peter’s image was judged the best in the People category before taking the major prize.

Victorians Lucy Barbour and Larissa Romensky from the ABC took out the broadcast on-line category for a multi-media human interest report on the impact of wild dog predation.

The awards didn’t stop there for Victorian Rural Press Club members with Melbourne-based freelance Journalist Nathan Dyer placing third in the Star Prize Award for Print Journalism for a feature on the Ord River region published in RM Williams Outback Magazine.

Finalists nominated by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) won six of nine awards plus a second and third placing at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists 2013 World Congress.

ACAJ President Tim Powell said it was an extraordinary and outstanding result for Australia.

“It is the best result Australia has ever achieved in the prestigious Star Prize Awards,” Mr Powell said

“The Star Prizes are the most significant awards in the agricultural journalism and to have our journalists named the best in their field in the world is an amazing achievement.

“What this shows is that Australian rural journalists are matching it with the best in the world.”

The award ceremony was a highlight of the final day of the Congress in Rosario, in the Argentine agricultural heartland.

Journalists from the ABC made a clean sweep of the three broadcast award categories – television, radio and on line -- while Australians won two of the three photography categories and the overall best photo award.

Tait Schmaal from the Adelaide Advertiser submitted the winning entry in the Production category, an airborne sheep leaping to freedom.

Great turn out for Mallee rally

Nearly 150 people converged on the Wesley Performing Arts Centre at Horsham  last Monday night to hear from eight  of the 12 candidates contesting the federal seat of Mallee in Saturday's election. 

There was also a Greens senate candidate representing the Greens. 

Public interest through the large electorate washigh, with a new member to be elected following the retirement of long-time incumbent John Forrest. While last election there were only four candidates the three corner contest had boosted the number four fold for this poll.

Only three members of parliament have represented Mallee since the seat’s inception in the late 1940s. The event, organised by the Wimmera Press Club, included plenty of lively discussion about  issues including infrastructure, agriculture, health, foreign ownership and education. Candidates also talked about who they were preferencing, their views on a GST on food and whether they'd be prepared to cross the floor. There was strong support for improved rail infrastructure including both standard gauge and passenger rail services.

Ballarat Courier named Rural Press Club of Victoria Media Outlet of the Year


The Ballarat Courier has claimed the coveted Rural Press Club of Victoria Media Outlet of the Year title, beating off finalists The Warrnambool Standard, The Border Morning Mail and The Hamilton Spectator.

The Courier, long the provider of news and information to the Ballarat region, had taken its coverage to new levels with its on-line and digital presence, said judging panel co-chairman Gareth Boreham.

“Through its multi-media platforms, the paper has broken significant national stories such as the NBN roll-out asbestos scare, as well as providing comprehensive reporting on health issues and the summer bushfires that wreaked so much havoc,” Mr Boreham said.  

“The paper is leading the way with new technologies. Reporters and photographers file using Iphones and Ipads and are constantly learning new skills to update content as it happens.”

The Geelong Advertiser’s Danny Lannen was awarded Journalist of the Year for his folio of news and feature stories involving deeply personal accounts on issues ranging from refugee policy and forced adoptions to the impact of suicide on a prominent member of the Geelong community.

“All were handled with appropriate sensitivity and empathy, free of sensationalism, making Danny the standout,” said Mr Boreham.

The Hamilton Spectator’s Dean Koopman, having only returned to photography six months ago after a decade-long absence, was named RPCV Photographer of the Year.

“Dean’s images tell their stories powerfully – the epitome of good news photography,” said photography judge and former News Ltd picture editor, Vince Calati.

Ray Frawley Young Journalist of the Year, The Weekly Times’ Alex Sampson, edged out her competition for a tenacity that “could not be taught” said her editor and RPCV president Ed Gannon.

The other winners were Kim Quinlin, The Ballarat Courier (Best Feature Story); Tammy Mills, The Border Morning Mail (Best Regional News Story); Emma Field, The Weekly Times (Best Rural News Story); Tim Lee, Ron Ekkel, James Fisher and Corina Scott, Landline (Best Agriculture Story); Mark Bogue, The Weekly Times (Best Production), Dean Koopman, The Hamilton Spectator (Best News Photograph) and Rob Gunstone, The Warrnambool Standard (Best General Interest Photograph).     

The RPCV Journalism and Photography awards recognise and celebrate excellence in agricultural and rural journalism and photography, in both the print and electronic media.

This year’s competition attracted a record 365 entries, proving excellence in journalism is alive and well in the bush despite ongoing challenges in the media environment, said Mr Gannon.

Keynote speaker, Victorian Premier Denis Napthine, congratulated attendees at Friday’s night’s event in Melbourne for their dedication to their communities.

“The greatest thing we could do for people who are new to the state, new to country Victoria, is give them a 12 month-subscription to their local paper. Nothing helps someone new to a community understand better how that community works,” said Dr Napthine.



Crucial election moment


The candidates for the Federal seat of Mallee will have a critical final chance to sway public opinion in the southern part of the electorate at Monday night’s Mallee Rally in Horsham.

A record 12 candidates, including 11 party representatives and an independent, will contest the seat.

Public interest through the large electorate is high, with a new member to be elected following the retirement of long-time incumbent John Forrest and organisers are expecting a big crowd at the September 2 event.

And they will get a chance to outline their major election issues during the rally, with organisers calling for questions.

Questions can be emailed to the Wimmera Development Association (WDA), to and will be posed to the various candidates.

It is rare for the solidly conservative electorate to have such a ‘live’ election.

Only three members of parliament have represented Mallee since the seat’s inception in the late 1940s.

The largely agricultural seat, which encompasses the Sunraysia and Murray Valley horticultural districts, along with the dryland farming areas of the Wimmera and Mallee, has always belonged to the Nationals, but this election, the Liberal party will run a candidate against their Coalition partners.

Last time two Coalition candidates squared off against each other, in 1993, the result was a nail-biter, with the Nationals candidate Mr Forrest winning by the narrowest of margins.

Foreign investment in agricultural, infrastructure and public transport are expected to be key election issues.

It is the first major political rally in Horsham in recent history and the vast majority of candidates will be in attendance.

Along with the Liberals and Nationals, there will be candidates from the Australian Labor Party, the Greens, Katter Australia Party, Rise Up Australia Party, Palmer United Party, Australian Sex Party, the Citizens Electoral Lobby, Family First and the Country Alliance, along with independent Allen Ridgeway.

The debate will be held at Wesley Performing Arts Centre, Horsham, just days out from the September 7 poll.

It will be hosted by VFF policy adviser Peter Hunt, a former journalist with the Weekly Times and has been organised by the Wimmera Development Association and the Wimmera Press Club.

WDA executive officer Jo Bourke said there had been good feedback regarding the rally.

“People seem to be genuinely interested in getting along and hearing what all the candidates have got to say.

“After all these years of being the safest federal Coalition seat in Australia, people are now really looking closely at what the candidates can bring to the table.”

“I urge Wimmera residents to come and ask the candidates about issues that matter to them.

“Whether it be roads, mobile coverage, health, education or agriculture, we need voters to come and join in this historic rally,” Ms Bourke said.

"I applaud the Wimmera Press Club for taking this initiative and urge everyone to attend this important meeting," she said.

Mallee Rally 2013 – The Great Debate will be held from 7pm at Wesley Performing Arts Centre Horsham on September 2.

Further information

Jo Bourke 0419 571 711

RPCV seminar attendees encouraged to embrace change

Caption: The group toured Parliament House including the library, which includes an archive of all of Victoria's newspapers.

By Danielle Grindlay

FROM re-living the 19th century construction of Parliament House to predictions of talking televisions in bathroom mirrors, this year's Rural Press Club of Victoria seminar was all about embracing change

Single-line stories and 24-hour news cycles might have sent old-school journalists into a spin, but the underlying message from speakers was that the new era of media came with the same brief – to deliver dependable, timely news.
Attendees came from Hamilton, Colac, Albury, Gippsland, Ballarat and Victoria's rural newspapers. They started the day with a tour of Parliament House, with tips on the best place to catch a politician and where to etch one’s name alongside that of media veterans. 

Reflections of the past were quickly put in their place when the group moved to Telstra’s head office for a blunt message from keynote speaker, Rob Curtain: adapt or die. 

Freshly appointed as Fairfax Radio’s National News Director, Mr Curtain was living proof that those who backed today’s “communication revolution” would thrive. 

Mr Curtain acknowledged the mass exodus of journalists from the industry, but said there was plenty of space for those with the right attitude.

Predicting the bathroom-mirror-television screen and technology faster than the human brain, Mr Curtain made it clear that the next generation of journalists he was hiring would come with an open mind.

Victoria’s leading political reporters, ABC’s Frances Bell, 3AW’s Heidi Murphy and The Age’s Richard Willingham, spoke highly of their roots in regional media, where they developed the skills needed to compete in the metropolitan race.
‘You can’t delete a tweet’ was the warning from the trio, who must find a balance between being the first and maintaining their credibility.

The role of social media sparked much discussion amongst the group, with News Corp Australia’s Isabelle Oderberg urging regional editors to direct resources into creating conversations with their audience.  

Even farmers weren’t far behind the iPad-wielding cityfok, according to ABC Rural’s Caleb Cluff, who told agricultural journalists not to underestimate their audience’s interest in the latest technology.

Post-seminar drinks inevitably involved the recruitment of new Twitter followers and wistful memories of 12-hour deadlines, nine to five workdays and newspapers thrown over a picket fence.

Although there was some reluctance, most finished the day with a silent farewell to the printed newspaper, but not a farewell to good reporting. 

Caption: Scott Barnes from the Colac Herald gets a look at decades of graffiti tributes from the Press Gallery 

Caption: A close up of the Press Gallery's markings - note the 1949 Argus entry. 

Caption: Using online and social media led to some hot debate about getting all regional newspapers, no matter the size, embracing the web

Australian Star Prize winners announced


Victorian journalists and photographers have taken out awards at today’s announcement of the Australian Star Prizes for Rural Writing, Broadcasting and Photography.

The prizes at both a state and a national level were announced at a sell-out Victorian Rural Press Club breakfast.

The Star Prizes are run in conjunction with the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists recognising excellence in agricultural journalism and photography and give Victorians a chance to compete on the world stage.

The Geelong Advertiser’s Peter Ristevski took out the top prize in the Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography for his picture of an owner and their horse being rescued after getting stuck in the mud.

The judges said Peter’s photo exquisitely captured a scene of desperation with the young owner cradling the head of the bogged horse in her arms.

Also announced at the breakfast was the winner of the Kubota Australian Star Prize for Rural Writing. Nathan Dyer was named as the national winner for a piece published in RM Williams Outback Magazine about the Ord River Irrigation Scheme.

The judges commented the writer demonstrated a great knowledge and understanding and had done wonderful research and was also able to tell a story in a way which captivated the reader.

For this honour, Nathan has won a trip to Argentina to represent Australia at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress.

Victorian journalists also took out the Online category of the Rabobank Australian Star Prize for Rural Broadcasting.

A joint entry from Lucy Barbour and Larissa Romensky on Victoria’s only female dog trapper was announced as a category winner and will now be judged on an international level.

Entries are submitted at a state level for the Star Prizes and winners are chosen to go onto represent Victoria at a national level of judging. The category winners in the national level are then judged against other entries from all over the world at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress.

State Level

Kubota Australian Star Prize for Rural Writing : Eliza Adamthwaite (Border Mail)

Rabobank Australian Star Prize for Rural Broadcasting:

                                                            Radio – Flint Duxfield (ABC)

                                                            TV – Tim Lee (ABC)

                                                            Online – Lucy Barbour and Larissa Romensky (ABC)

Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography:

                                                            People – Peter Ristevski (Geelong Advertiser)

                                                            Production – Steve Hynes (Warrnambool Standard)

                                                            Landscape – Ben Robson (Border Mail)


Victorian award recipients at a national level

Kubota Australian Star Prize for Rural Writing: Nathan Dyer (Freelance)

Rabobank Australian Star Prize for Rural Broadcasting - Online category: Lucy Barbour and Larissa Romensky (ABC)

Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography – People category and overall winner - Peter Ristevski (Geelong Advertiser)


Kubota launches national rural media award


The Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) together with national sponsor Kubota, the world’s largest manufacturers of farm and industrial machinery, launched the 2013 Kubota Australian Star Prize for Rural Writing at a breakfast hosted by the Victorian Rural Press club today in Melbourne.

The Kubota Australian Star Prize for Rural Writing recognises and rewards excellence in print or on-line journalism in the rural sector with an international professional opportunity valued at $5000.

Launching the competition at the Rural Press club in Melbourne this morning Kubota Marketing Manager Mark Taylor said Kubota was proud to support this award for the second time.

“This is an outstanding award that rewards and celebrates some of this country’s best rural journalists,” Taylor said. “ At Kubota we understand the important role that rural journalists play in regional Australia. By supporting this award we are supporting the rural and regional communities that are part of the Kubota network.”

The award is run annually by the ACAJ in association with Australia’s five State-based rural media clubs which select finalists to represent them in the competition.

The national winner will represents Australia in the prestigious international award program at the International Federation of Agriculture Journalists (IFAJ) conference to be held in Buenos Aires in Argentina in September.  The prize includes airfares and registration fees up to the value of $5,000, provided by Kubota. The IFAJ annual conference is a gathering of rural journalists from around the world.

 President of the ACAJ Tim Powell congratulated Kubota on again taking up the sponsorship of this major national rural writing award.

“It is great to see a global farm machinery company like Kubota supporting our rural journalists here in Australia,” Powell said. “Without the support of organisations like Kubota we would not be able to continue to offer this rare opportunity for professional development.”

Journalists should contact their local press club for details about how to enter.

Further information is also available from the ACAJ website – or by contacting national award print coordinator, Genevieve McAulay, phone 0428 279 576 or email

Wimmera West plans to bowl them over


Wimmera West Press Club is on a roll. 

And while impartiality is the code of any good journalist there will be plenty of bias as the club meets on February 8 at Sunnyside Bowling Club, Horsham for its first 2013 event. In what is expected to be a crackerjack night, members will hold a barefoot bowls event. Wimmera West Press Club formed last year as a forum for media and communications representatives across the Wimmera and Western Victorian region.

The bowls night is open to members, new members and partners and will begin at 6pm. 

Cost is $15 for bowls and a barbecue tea. Please RSVP to Simone Dalton on 0408 349 532 or 349 532 by 4 February.

IFAJ Young Leaders Award– entries close 11 February 2013

Entries are now being accepted for the 2013 IFAJ Young Leaders Award for journalists working in the rural sector. 

If you are 35 years old or younger, a member of your local rural press club, and would relish the opportunity to travel to Argentina in September 2013 and meet your peers from around the world at the annual International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress, then this international professional development award is for you. Details about the award and the IFAJ are available from the IFAJ website –  

IMPORTANT NOTE: Australian applicants must apply through the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ), using the attached entry form

A candidate to represent our country in the final international selection process will be chosen by the ACAJ. Final award recipients will be selected by the IFAJ. Australian entries close on February 11, 2013, to allow time for the ACAJ to select the national candidate. The closing date mentioned on the IFAJ website is for national organisations only. 

 Entries should be submitted by email to the Secretary, Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists - Kim Payne at   

If the samples of your work exceed 10 MB in file size please contact Kim to discuss the best method for submitting them.

For more information contact ACAJ president Liz Harfull on 0409 674 941, or email  

Small newspaper wins big at top awards


Small newspaper wins big at top awards

The Hamilton Spectator has taken out the Rural Press Club of Victoria Media Outlet of the Year and Journalist of the Year at the annual Victorian rural and regional journalism and photography awards dinner.

More than 100 guests attended the awards, which recognise excellence in the state’s rural and regional print and electronic media.

In awarding the prize for the prestigious Media Outlet of the Year the judges said the Hamilton Spectator, which has only seven journalists, ‘delivers news ….that is on par with neighbouring papers belonging to larger news networks with greater resources’.

Rural Press Club of Victoria President Ed Gannon said one comment that was telling was that even though the paper is now being available online, readers still seek out the hard copy.

“One store requested customers not block their driveway while waiting for The Spectator to be delivered of an afternoon!” Mr Gannon said.

The Hamilton Spectator’s Danielle Grindlay was named the Rural Press Club of Victoria Journalist of the year for her ability to write across a diversity of subjects – from a hard-edged business story, to a council report, to a feature on a local hero or heroine.

The 2012 Photographer of the Year was awarded to Ben Robson from the Border Mail for his collection of photos showing a day in the life of rural youngsters on the rodeo circuit.

The judges were impressed by Ben’s dedication to the story following through the whole day and capturing the different aspects of the rodeo including excellent detailed shots as well as moody, expressive photography.

The Ray Frawley Memorial Award for the Young Journalist of the Year was presented to Ted O’Connor from the Wimmera Mail Times for what the judges described as a fine body of work covering issues from the flood aftermath in Joel Joel, to tackling  the contentious subject of gay marriage and ‘coming out’ in the countryside.

Other winners include:

Best Regional News Story

Sponsored by Telstra


Brave Girl, Elizabeth O’Brien, Sunraysia Daily

Highly commended

Footy in a tangle, Cimara Pearce and Roslyn Lanigan, The Weekly Times


The Penshurst crash, Mary Alexander and the editorial team,     Warrnambool Standard

Best Rural News Story

Sponsored by Victorian Farmers Federation


Is processing dead? Louise Preece, Stock & Land

Highly commended

Wind wind-back a worry for green energy advocates, Anthony Stewart, ABC News


ATV photo stoush, Fiona Myers, The Weekly Times

Best Feature – all media Sponsored by Redstick Strategic Communications


Five decades of regional television, Alex Sinnot, Warrnambool Standard

Highly Commended

London Calling, Matilda Abey, The Weekly Times


Let's talk about it, Kathy Bedford, Rob Harris and the Statewide Drive team, ABC Victoria

Best Agriculture Story

Sponsored by Dairy Australia


The farmer's foe: Fantastic Mr Fox, Danielle Grindlay, Hamilton Spectator

Highly commended

It's still our land after 150 years, Chris McLennan, The Weekly Times


Marius champions wool, Danielle Grindlay, Hamilton Spectator

Best Production

Sponsored by Cargill

Highly Commended

Reg the Veg, Lucy Barbour and Larissa Romensky, ABC Rural


100 greatest country Australians, Natalee Ward and Cristina Panozzo, The Weekly Times

Best News Photograph

Sponsored by CBH Group


Player vs Spectator, Ray Sizer, Shepparton News

Highly commended

Convicted, Jim Aldersey, Bendigo Advertiser


Horse stuck in the mud, Peter Ristevski, Geelong Advertiser

Best General Interest Photograph

Sponsored by TAC

Highly commended

Naidoc Week celebrations, Vicky Hughson, Warrnambool Standard


Moving the sheep, Steve Hynes, Warrnambool Standard

Best Video Vision

Sponsored by Murray Goulburn

Highly Commended

Boxing Day murder, Julian Fisher, Channel Nine News Melbourne


Murphy Street arrests, Julian Fisher, The Bendigo Advertiser

The Ray Frawley Award – Young Journalist of the Year


Chris Gillett, Geelong Advertiser

Highly Commended

Lisa Cameron, Hamilton Spectator


Ted O'Connor, Wimmera Mail Times

2012 RPCV Photographer of the Year

Sponsored by RACV Royal Auto


Ben Robson, The Border Mail

2012 RPCV Journalist of the Year

Sponsored by RACV


Danielle Grindlay, The Hamilton Spectator

2012 RPCV Media Outlet of the Year

Sponsored by NAB


The Hamilton Spectator

Thank you to our award sponsors:

  • Telstra
  • TAC
  • Dairy Australia
  • CBH
  • RACV
  • RoyalAuto
  • NAB Agribusiness
  • Redstick
  • VFF
  • Murray Goulburn
  • Cargill

Police chief talks rural policing


Chief Commissioner, Ken Lay addressed a Rural Press Club of Victoria breakfast on May 3.