Journalism student Jack Banister honoured with a Walkley...

It has been a huge couple of weeks for Master of Journalism student Jack Banister, who has been awarded the highest honour in journalism in Australia, a Walkley award, in addition to an inaugural Melbourne Press Club Michael Gordon Fellowship, and the John Newfong Prize for Reporting on Indigenous Affairs.

Jack Banister

The Walkley was awarded to the Guardian Australia team, of which Banister formed a part, for the Deaths Inside Project, which demonstrated that since the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Royal Commission report in 1991 there have been 407 Indigenous deaths in custody in Australia. The report profiled all 147 deaths from the last ten years.

Banister was undertaking an internship organised through the Centre for Advancing Journalism's trust arrangement with Guardian Australia at the time.

"It's such an honour to have won the award. It's surreal really. And it's just amazing to have been able to work on a project with this kind of social impact - I think it was eventually mentioned in the Senate which is really, really great," said Banister.

During his time at the Guardian, Banister trawled through coronial records and contributed to the writing and fact checking for the project. He also wrote an accompanying story on Indigenous suicide.

"I was working in a team of six people, and I was the least experienced member, so I got quite a lot of great mentorship which I'm really thankful for," said Banister.

"In particular, [Guardian Australia's] Calla [Wahlquist] and Lorena [Allam] worked with me quite closely when I was writing the feature piece. They helped me tackle a lot of the cultural sensitivities around reporting on Indigenous matters of this nature," he said.

The Centre for Advancing Journalism's Andrew Dodd said the Walkley recognition was a testament to Jack's "impressive and forensic work."

"It's also a reflection of the unique relationship the Centre for Advancing Journalism has with Guardian Australia, which helps the Guardian do great journalism while our Masters students benefit from wonderful opportunities and mentoring."

But the recognition does not stop at a Walkley for this early career journalist.

Off the back of the research and work he'd been doing at Guardian Australia, Banister pitched a proposal to the Melbourne Press Club for the Michael Gordon Fellowship. In honour of the recently deceased political editor from The Age Michael Gordon, the fellowship program recognises social justice journalism.

On 27 November, Banister's application was announced successful. He now represents the Centre for Advancing Journalism's publication The Citizen alongside Guardian Australia, Fairfax, the ABC, The Monthly and The Age in the inaugural line-up of fellows.

The fellowship will fund a 10-day trip to the Tiwi Islands to investigate the topic of suicide prevention in the Tiwi Islands.

"The Tiwi Islands have the highest suicide rate in the world per head of capita, and it's an issue I feel strongly about," said Banister.

"Having done my internship [at Guardian Australia] made me capable and willing to actually pitch for that grant. I'm super excited," he said.

The piece Banister wrote for the Deaths Inside Project "Indigenous suicide in custody: 'How have lives just slipped away?", additionally won the John Newfong Prize for Reporting on Indigenous Affairs at the 2018 Ozzie Awards for Student Journalism, on Tuesday night.

Find out more about the Centre for Advancing Journalism and their news publication The Citizen.

Find out more about the Master of Journalism