The Illawarra Mercury has won a prestigious Walkley Award for its coverage of a funds collapse that affected hundreds of people in the region.Reporters Nicole Hasham and Laurel-Lee Roderick received a Walkley in the Community and Regional Affairs category for their extended coverage of the Trio scandal that continues to impact upon families and individuals. The scandal has been described as Australia’s biggest ever superannuation fraud.The Walkley awards, announced tonight in Melbourne, are the peak journalism awards in Australia.The judges said the Trio work was an outstanding exposé of a complicated financial collapse and the devastating effects on hundreds of investors, workers and businesses. ‘‘Relentless investigation and painstaking research has brought to light a massive regulatory failure and blame-shifting,’’ they said. ‘‘The reporting includes an impressive array of personal stories demonstrating the shattering local impact; the reporters’ pursuit led to more exclusive revelations despite the main players hiding behind a public relations company.‘‘Succinct, confident writing with enormous public benefit’’. Reporter Jodie Duffy and cartoonist Vince O’Farrell were commended in the same category for a Weekender piece on O’Farrell’s battle with bipolar disorder.It is the Mercury’s third Walkley in as many years.Mercury Editor Stuart Howie said the paper was committed to producing quality journalism in all its forms.‘‘It is pleasing to see our reporters’ determined efforts to bring the Trio scandal into the public spotlight acknowledged with a Walkley,’’ he said.Roderick has since left the paper for a job in the NSW Planning Department.