Story celebrating farmers with a disability wins top rural journalism award

Halina will travel to Canada for the 2023 IFAJ Congress

A story celebrating an online community that highlights the contribution people with disabilities make in the agricultural sector has been awarded one of Australia’s top prizes for rural journalism.

ABC Landline’s Halina Baczkowski (pictured right)has won the Australian Star Prize for Rural Broadcasting, sponsored by Rabobank, with her story Ability Agriculture: Farming with a disability, which also won the video category.

ACAJ President Kallee Buchanan said the judges found the story original and practical. 

“They complimented Halina’s choice to highlight a unique and key issue for the sector, through the people living and working in agriculture with a disability,” she said. 

“The judges noted the themes have national and international significance for farming, and the story was well placed to create genuine change.”

Rabobank group executive Country Banking Australia Marcel van Doremaele said the story exemplified the importance of sharing untold stories on the people living and working in regional Australia. 

“It is very important that rural and regional Australia has a strong voice in the media and stories like this are shared,” he said.  

Halina will receive a bursary to travel to the next International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Congress, which will be held in Canada in June, where all of the category winners will be judged against the best agricultural reporting in the world. 

The other major journalism prize, the Australian Star Prize for Rural Writing, was won by The Australian newspapers National Rural Reporter Charlie Peel and Chief Political Correspondent Geoff Chambers, for their front-page story Methane pledge hit for farmers

“The judges were impressed by the skillful way the reporters covered a complex international issue, making the impact relevant to the Australian audience,” Ms Buchanan said. 

“The coverage on this issue continues, but the in-depth work by Charlie Peel and Geoff Chambers helped bring farmers into the global discussion.”

An outstanding photograph of a leaping lamb by South Australian photographer Jacqui Bateman took out The Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography.

Jacqui Bateman’s outstanding image won the overall photography prize

“The judges praised the balance, brightness, composition and movement of this expertly captured image that clearly showed the skill of a photographer who is no stranger to the paddock or the yards,” Ms Buchanan said. 

In the other broadcast categories, ABC News reporter Daniel Miles won the audio category for his piece Fisherman designs plastic-free lobster pot, while Elly Bradfield from ABC Rural was named the digital winner with her moving tribute to those giving birth in the bush

Congratulating the award winners, Mr van Doremaele said this year’s three winning stories once again demonstrated the excellent quality of rural journalism in Australia and the great diversity of issues in the country’s rural sector.

“They are testament to the important role rural journalism serves in telling the story of people and issues in rural and regional Australia,” he said.

“Rabobank is pleased to be supporting Australian rural journalism through this significant award.”

In the photography prizes, Lisa Alexander’s breathtaking “The Channel Country Comes Alive” won the nature/landscape section, while Darren Howe’s joyful “Free Wheelin’” was a clear winner in the People category.

The ACAJ is the national umbrella organisation for the network of state-based press clubs which focus on issues affecting rural and regional Australia. The ACAJ links its members to a global network of rural journalists and communicators through the IFAJ.

“Once again Australian rural journalists and photographers will showcase to the world not just their unique skills, but also the unique people, places and industries they report on,” Ms Buchanan said. 

For more more about our prize program visit our website. 


Media Contact:

Kallee Buchanan
ACAJ President
0407 739 493 

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations
Rabobank Australia & NZ
02 8115 2744 | 0439 603 525 

Will Banks
Media Relations Manager
Rabobank Australia
0418 216 103 

List of winners

  • Australian Star Prize for Rural Broadcasting, sponsored by Rabobank: Halina Baczkowski 
  • Australian Star Prize for Rural Writing: Charlie Peel and Geoff Chambers
  • Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography: Jacqui Bateman

Broadcast category winners:

Photography category winners:

Production: Jacqui Bateman – “Leaping Sheep” (pictured above)

Nature/Landscape: Lisa Alexander – “The Channel Country Comes Alive”

Lisa Alexander’s breathtaking “The Channel Country Comes Alive” won the nature/landscape section.

People: Darren Howe –  “Free Wheelin’”

Darren Howe’s joyful “Free Wheelin’” was a clear winner in the People category.