Joanne McCarthy has won Australian journalism's most prestigious award, the Gold Walkley, for her coverage of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

Gold Walkley Awarded to UON graduate

29 November 2013

Joanne McCarthy has won Australian journalism's most prestigious award, the Gold Walkley, for her coverage of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

The Newcastle Herald journalist's reporting last year on the sexual abuse of children, primarily by Catholic clergy in the Newcastle and Hunter regions, prompted a state enquiry and royal commission.

In her acceptance speech at the Walkley Award ceremony in Brisbane on November 28, Joanne thanked the victims for trusting her and her team.  

"I want to thank all of the people, the victims and the family, who have trusted us," she said speech.

"For people who have every reason in the world not to trust, they trusted us. I think over the years that's what got us to the point that we did and I'm proud of that because we didn't let them down."

The Herald team including Joanne, editor Chad Watson and reporters Ian Kirkwood and Jason Gordon won the Walkley award for coverage of community and regional affairs for the 'Shine the Light' series on child sex abuse.

2013 has been a successful year for Joanne who was named Melbourne Press Club's Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year, the Gold Kennedy NSW Journalist of the Year and Prodi's Northern NSW Journalist of the Year. These awards all recognised her investigative work into the Catholic Church.

Joanne, who completed a Bachelor of Arts in 2003 and the Open Foundation Program in 1997, said her time at University was invaluable during her research.

"For the past seven years I have had to source documents, objectively assess information, conduct interviews, critically evaluate competing data, reach conclusions, write articles in which arguments are developed and deliver speeches to support those arguments, often against considerable criticism," she said.

"That work has relied on the skills I developed and tested at the University, after completing Open Foundation."

Listen to Joanne's interview with 1233 ABC Newcastle following her Gold Walkley award win.