2012 Perkin award winner Joanne McCarthy

The Melbourne Press Club congratulates Joanne McCarthy of The Newcastle Herald on winning the 2012 Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year Award.

McCarthy received the award for her body of work on child sex abuse in the Catholic Church in the Hunter Valley. McCarthy received a $20,000 prize and a plaque at the Melbourne Press Club Quill awards dinner at Crown Palladium in Melbourne on March 15, 2013.

Judges' citation: All four finalists were deserving of this award, but as judges we kept coming back to Joanne’s work, drawn by its sheer, teeth gritting persistence, her compassion for the people she was writing about, and her courage in the face of a campaign by the powerful to intimidate.  

The Newcastle Herald’s work – Joanne’s work – has been recognised as being instrumental in finally achieving the push for a Royal Commission into sexual abuse by the church, an historic breakthrough for all the victims of such awful events.

Further comments: McCarthy’s work shows a relentless campaigning spirit on behalf of the victims of sex abuse in the Catholic Church in the community in which she lives in a series of reports, features and opinion pieces. This kind of story is hard to tell on a big newspaper and requires guts to pursue on a regional one. She never gave up.


Three other journalists were shortlisted for the award:

  • Kate McClymont, of the Sydney Morning Herald, for exposures on two of the biggest stories of the year – the financial interests of the Obeid family and alleged corruption in the Health Services Union;
  • Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker, of The Age, for investigative journalism on suicide victims of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, the racing industry, Reserve Bank subsidiaries and corrupt Customs cells;
  • Steve Pennells, of the West Australian, for work on an asylum seeker boat tragedy, terror alerts in Indonesia, the woes of Gina Rinehart’s family and memories of the Bali bombings.

This is the thirty-seventh year of the award and the fourth year it has been open to journalists from television, radio and new media. The Perkin commemorates the legendary editor of The Age who died prematurely at age 45 in 1975.

The judges for the 2012 award were Laura Tingle, Laurie Oakes and Jill Baker.

The award is administered independently by the Melbourne Press Club and supported by Swinburne University. The cash prize is supplied by The Age.

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