Mr Ali Batoor’s Walkley award-winning photograph has inspired UQ students.
Mr Ali Batoor’s Walkley award-winning photograph has inspired UQ students.
27 October 2014

Award-winning Afghani photojournalist Barat Ali Batoor will explore the internet’s global advocacy and investigative journalism opportunities at a free University of Queensland symposium tomorrow.

Mr Ali Batoor also will accept a UQ 2014 Communication for Social Change Award for a photographic essay created during his boat trip to Australia as a refugee.

"Receiving this award puts more responsibility (on me) to work even harder for raising those unheard voices (of refugees) to the next level, and to the broader audience,” he said.

Mr Ali Batoor said he was targeted by the Taliban before he left Afghanistan.

Photographs from his boat journey won him a Walkley Award for Photo of the Year and Best Photo Essay last year.

Associate Professor Pradip Thomas, Secretary of the Awards and Acting Head of School at the UQ School of Journalism and Communication, said Mr Ali Batoor’s work depicted Hazara families facing persecution in Afghanistan and making the perilous journey to Australia.

“This inspired UQ photojournalism students to produce work on the diverse bonds of family,” Dr Thomas said. “The students’ work will be on display alongside Mr Ali Batoor’s photographs after the awards ceremony.”

This year’s Communication for Social Change Award for an organisation recognises the work of Radio Free Sarawak.

Radio Free Sarawak founder Clare Rewcastle and colleague Peter John Jaban will speak at the symposium.

Ms Rewcastle said Radio Free Sarawak gave a radio and internet voice to isolated rural indigenous communities affected by illegal logging and land grabs in the eastern Malaysian state of Sarawak.

“The group’s work also enables people to engage with others via phone-ins, informing and empowering their communities,” she said.

"For us at Radio Free Sarawak, receiving such an award is an honour and source of pride for our small team of brave and dedicated information activists.

“It is also a much-appreciated endorsement and source of protection against those forces who want to depict our project as somehow subversive or illegal.

“This recognition, by such a respected institution in Australia, will help protect us against influential politicians who are trying to brand us as somehow criminal for not promoting their agenda in Sarawak, and it gives us a welcome profile that will help protect us from state harassment or prosecutions.”

The Reporters Without Borders organisation has named Mr Jaban, known on air as Papa Orangutan, as an “information hero”.

Dr Thomas said the Communication for Social Change awards recognised outstanding individuals and organisations demonstrating extraordinary commitment to using communication to transform and empower marginalised communities.

The free symposium will run from 9am to 1pm at UQ’s St Lucia campus. Details and registration can be found here.

Mr Ali Batoor, Ms Rewcastle and Mr Jaban are available for media interviews and photos today.

Contact: Claudia Sepulveda, +61 (0)413 874 017, +61 7 3346 3465,