Nina Funnell, 2017 Walkley Award winner
“I was a Prefect and also Debating Captain during my last year at PLC Sydney and was also an editor of the school newspaper and member of the SRC. My interest in student issues, justice and investigative journalism has continued and I now work as a full time freelance journalist and author.”
In 2017 Nina was awarded a Walkley Our Watch Award for Best Journalism Campaign of the Year (with Eryk Bagshaw from the Sydney Morning Herald) for their continued reporting on cover up of sexual assault at Australian university campuses.
This national award recognises outstanding journalistic contributions to coverage of gender equality and the full participation of women in society.
In October this year Nina was also awarded the United Nations Australia Media award in the Gender Equality section- along with her Channel 7 team-mates, Alison Sandy, PJ Madam and Penny McWhirter, after conducting the largest ever Freedom Of Information Investigation in Australia’s history into rates of assault and harassment at the 39 Universities across the country. (Nina, Alison, PJ and Penny were also shortlisted as a finalist for an additional Walkley award in Women’s Leadership).
“I’ve always been passionate about the rights of women and girls to access education and I firmly believe that all people should be able to access an education free of sexual violence and free of the fear of sexual violence” says Nina who has also previously served on the NSW Premier’s Council in Preventing Violence Against Women and the board of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre. “After completing my media degree, I ended up teaching media and communications at Sydney University. I was appalled by some of the stories I heard about the sorts of experiences female students were having, involving other students on campus and I always wanted to write about it. This year I decided to dedicate an entire year to reporting exclusively on sexual harassment within educational settings. It wasn’t always easy and I faced multiple defamation law suits from individuals within those institutions, but it was worth it, as we produced several reforms at various institutions."
Nina also currently serves on the board of the National Children and Youth Law Centre board and is an ambassador for the Full Stop Foundation, End Rape On Campus Australia and the Hills Women’s Sanctuary domestic violence shelter.
“My two biggest passions are journalism and gender-based violence prevention and being able to merge my interests with my reporting for work has been tremendously rewarding. I often report on extremely heavy topics, and at times it can be very difficult to hear graphic accounts of the violence women and girls have experienced- often at the hands of people who claim to love them. Yet it’s also a tremendous privilege to be entrusted with people’s stories and to give voice to the voiceless. It’s a massive responsibility but it’s also inspiring to bear witness to the incredible strength and resilience of women and girls who speak out about their experiences of violence or abuse. I think women play a really important role in media and while the industry is still very heavily male dominated, and there are certainly structural barriers to over-come, the media also plays an important role in shaping broader community attitudes towards gender and towards the barriers that women face in multiple professions and areas of employment.”
In 2014, Nina co-published her first book with teen girl educator, Dannielle Miller, titled 'Loveability: an empowered girl's guide to dating and relationships' which targets teenage girls. Jane Caro (social commentator and writer) described it as "Possibly the first book in the world to treat teenage girls as the responsible, intelligent human beings they (mostly) are".
More recently, Nina has published a book chapter in 'Unbreakable' anthology, also edited by Caro.
Nina has also previously trained NRL football players on their off-field behaviour and attitudes towards women. “That was really interesting work, done under the leadership of Professor Catharine Lumby, who mentors me. It was an eye opener.”
Nina now also mentors younger female journalists and journalism students. “Right from high school I was incredibly lucky in that my English teachers in particular invested a lot of time in me. I’ve also had great mentors throughout my professional career. Paying it forward to the next generation is an important way of honouring the effort others have put into you.”
Nina Funnell, class of 2001, paying it forward to the next generation.
Walkley Award winners, 2017