The 2010 MEAA freelance rates, available as a PDF download on the MEAA website here, suggest that the minimum rate for a freelance journalist should be 89c a word (with $890 paid for any article of 1,000 words or less).
There are certainly publications in Australia which pay more on a per-word basis; eg The Monthly, Griffith Review and Reader’s Digest all pay around $1 a word – and there are many other corporate and trade publications which pay that or more.
However, metro daily newspapers generally pay around 65c per word – way less for travel – and plenty of Australian magazines still pay just 50c a word or even less.
We would love to see freelancers contact Margaret with their current pay rates – she’s promised anonymity.
We have regular discussions about pay rates in our Freeline google group – if you’re an Australian freelance writer, you’re welcome to join the discussion online.