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It takes a paper willing to publish these stories - Our Watch Gold Award winners

September 15 2016 By Joanna Cooney, Media and Communications Officer

Congratulations to Lauren Novak and Sheradyn Holderhead, who took home an Our Watch Gold Award last night for shining a light on the extent of domestic violence in South Australia.

Lauren and Sheradyn were joined at the Our Watch Awards, hosted by Our Watch Ambassador Julia Zemiro, by people representing all sides of the Australian media.

The Gold Award winners were chosen from the pool of winners from six other categories: Best Use of Social Media, Best News Coverage, Best Series or Special, Best Local/Community Journalism, Best Longform and Best Journalism Campaign.

Find the "audio description" version of this video here. 

Our Watch Chair Natasha Stott Despoja welcomed the crowd of 200 leading industry, sports, business and cultural leaders to the event.

She commended the media for giving “greater attention to the perspectives of women who experience violence”, and expanding the discussion to include issues such as victim-blaming, sexual harassment, online abuse, and other issues from more diverse voices.

In her opening remarks, Julia Zemiro challenged the media guests to keep violence against women on the front page. 

“I don't want to look back next year and say “oh yeah, reporting on violence against women was such a fad in 2016, along with AusVotes and Pokemon Go. We have to keep it going because real people's lives are at stake.”

Our Watch Ambassador and 2016 South Australian of the Year, Arman Abrahimzadeh spoke powerfully of his mother's murder at the hands his father, speaking of how important the media was to prevent more tragedies like this from happening.

After recounting his fathers sickening boast to "make history" with the murder of his mother, he challenged the media to "work together to make a different kind of history, one where violence against women is a thing of the past. One where women become statistics reflecting equality, not death."

While presenting the Gold Award, Helen McCabe, Head of Lifestyle Nine Entertainment, delivered a similar rallying cry to her industry peers to keep the story on the front page and "find new stories, new angles and new Rosie Battys." She added, "until the numbers start to decline, I do not think this story has been told."

Lauren and Sheradyn were shocked and delighted when they accepted their Gold Award for their work, which also won Best Journalism Campaign, saying they were just happy to get to travel to Sydney.

“This took hours of uncomfortable conversations with people to get information that should be publically available,” said Lauren in their acceptance speech, which was met with a cheer from the crowd.

“And, at least as a result, it now is publically available. So that’s good! But it took a lot of pushing,” said Lauren.

“It takes a team effort, and it takes a paper that supports us to publish that.”

“Lauren has been advocating for having issues related to domestic violence, family violence and child protection on the front page of the paper for two years. Really, this is her fight,” said Sheradyn.

“Thank you to the ‘Tiser and the Sunday Mail for putting this on the front page and keep doing it!” said Lauren, closing her acceptance speech.

Later, in the green room, the pair joined writer and broadcaster Tracey Spicer. They told Tracey the work Our Watch is doing with the media has provided “the resources to do our work better.”

This was echoed by ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson, who won Best Longform with her team for their Hitting Home documentary, saying “Our Watch really has helped me be a better journalist.”

See all Our Watch Award 2016 winners here. 

About the Our Watch Awards:

Our Watch developed a national media awards scheme to be administered by the Walkley Foundation to recognise and reward exemplary reporting to end violence against women, in particular reporting that highlights the causes of violence and what we as a society can do to stop it before it starts. The Our Watch Awards, now in their second year, is an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

Find out more information about the Awards, as administered by The Walkley Foundation. For more information on Our Watch and resources for journalists

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.”

Media Contact:

Rebecca Hyde, Acting Media & Ambassador Program Manager
Our Watch
T. 03 8692 9512, M. 0426 501 185, E. rebecca.hyde@ourwatch.org.au

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.