Storytelling perspectives from rural Queensland

Read about the QUT student who moved from the Central Highlands to pursue his passion for photography and shining a light on Australians in communities rarely reported on.

Justin Comiskey was still in high school when he was first published. His photo of cattle in Queensland’s near-drought stricken Central Highlands region appeared in the CQ News and the Northern Star in 2018 and ignited in him a desire to pursue journalism as a career. He decided to do so through enrolling in QUT’s top-ranked Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) course.

This photo QUT journalism student Justin Comiskey made in 2018, when he was still a high school student, changed his life.

Originally from Willows in Queensland’s Central Highlands region, he has been living in Brisbane for his uni studies until the COVID-19 pandemic prompted his return to rural Queensland. While there, he’s still been able to work on and submit his assessment remotely and continue progressing in the course.

Despite returning to the Central Highlands region of Queensland due to the COVID-19 pandemic, QUT Journalism student Justin Comiskey continues to make progress toward his degree by completing assessment for his units, such as CJB102: Visual Journalism, from his hometown. While there, he made this photo of James Spencer feeding three calves a biscuit of hay on his property near Willows, Queensland. Photo by Justin Comiskey.

Comiskey grew up on a farm with cattle and horses but decided that wasn’t for him.

“From a young age I decided that I was meant for more than what I saw everybody else doing,” he said.

Comiskey turned to photography in high school as a way to preserve the beauty of what he saw and that he felt others were missing out on but might want to see one day. Then, in 2018, the drought got really bad and his photos became a bit more bleak. He captured one image from the back of a buggy when 60 head of cattle were chasing him trying to get food.

He sent it to the CQ News, which published it and interviewed Comiskey about his experience and the region’s drought conditions.

“I felt I was doing something good for our community in raising awareness for the drought,” Comiskey said.

“It was after that that I truly decided journalism could be an avenue for me. It was the avenue for me. That’s what I’m interested in. I’m interested in showing people sides of the story that they’re otherwise not inclined to see.”

Rob Marlou, local Willows, Queensland, resident, practices her cover drive on a home-made cricket pitch at her property. Photo by Justin Comiskey.

After his degree, Comiskey wants to return to his hometown in rural Queensland and report on rural issues stories that rarely get covered. He aims to inspire others through his storytelling and report on the bright side of things.

“I’m very interested in good news,” he said.

“I think that’s my main point of interest with the news. I hope to one day write good news stories to make people feel better.”