The Greek Herald journalist wins Walkley Foundation award for exposé on Orthodox funeral certificate

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The Greek Herald journalist and University of Technology Sydney student, Pamela Rontziokos, won ‘Student Journalist of the Year’ at the Walkley Foundation’s 2024 Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism awards ceremony on Thursday, June 20.

Miss Rontziokos was recognised for an article published in The Greek Herald which investigated the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia’s (GOAA) ‘Certificate of death and funeral service.’

The investigation found families were expected to pay $250 for a funeral certificate that was not officially recognised in Australia nor Greece. The cost of the certificate was also found to be five times the amount compared to a government-issued death certificate in Australia and Greece. 

Miss Rontziokos was unable to attend the Walkley Foundation awards ceremony due to being overseas, but was represented on the night by her parents. She gave a statement to The Greek Herald after her win and said she was unable to express how “amazed and thankful” she was to be recognised as ‘Student Journalist of the Year.’

“I could not have done it without The Greek Herald and thank them deeply for giving me the opportunity to write this piece. The Greek Herald is a clear representation of ethical journalism and prioritising important stories necessary for our community,” the student journalist said.

Miss Rontziokos thanked the Walkley Foundation for its recognition and congratulated the other nominees for “their stories with solid reporting.”

“I share the award with The Greek Herald and I really implore Greek Orthodox Australians to question the death certificate and raise it to the community members,” she said.

The exposé has previously received recognition in the Democracy Watchdog Awards 2023 and the Ossie Awards. Miss Rontziokos won ‘The Crikey Award for Investigative journalism by an Undergraduate or Postgraduate Student’ in the Ossie Awards.

The Greek Herald journalist and University of Technology Sydney student, Pamela Rontziokos, won 'Student Journalist of the Year' at the Walkley Foundation’s 2024 Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism awards.
The Greek Herald journalist and University of Technology Sydney student, Pamela Rontziokos, won ‘Student Journalist of the Year’ at the Walkley Foundation’s 2024 Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism awards.

The Walkley Foundation’s 2024 Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism awards are a standalone series of awards, held separately from the Walkley Awards which are announced in November. Winners are chosen on the basis of overall merit and journalistic excellence.

On Thursday night, Miss Rontziokos was among other winners in categories such as ‘Visual Storytelling’ and ‘Media Diversity Australia Award.’ Bill Ormonde was named overall 2024 John B Fairfax Family Young Australian Journalist of the Year after winning the Visual Storytelling category for ‘Out of the Darkness’. 

Walkley Foundation Chief Executive Shona Martyn congratulated all the winners and recipients. 

“The quality of the entries was extremely high this year. The Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism recognises both the rising stars of journalism and more senior specialist reporters committed to crucial concerns of our times. In every instance, the judges had a tough job selecting the winners and finalists. My congratulations to them all,” Ms Martyn said.

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