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Champions of change: How these women fought for what’s right

By Chloe Hillcoat and Tamsin Read, Bond University Student Reporters

Three highly-regarded journalists talk about how they took matters in hand to bring about change for their communities and themselves.

Courage to stand up for what’s right and protection for society’s most vulnerable were themes that shone through in the Champions of Change panel at Friday’s Women in Media Conference on the Gold Coast.

Panel chair Narelda Jacobs highlighted the way three journalists fought for change for themselves and their communities when the institutions protecting them failed.

Virginia Tapscott, Naomi Moran and Adele Ferguson recounted their experiences.

Virginia Tapscott started a podcast. Photo: Emma Brasier

Tapscott created the My Sister’s Secrets podcast in her search to discover the truth about her sister Ally’s death and her sexual abuse.

“It’s [been] reassuring because for 31 years I felt like I was alone on this island of weirdos who have been sexually abused as children,” she said. “And then, to learn that there is not something deeply wrong with you [was] reassuring.”

In the episode ‘Abusers and the Abused’, Tapscott aimed to shed light on both victims and abusers.

She interviewed abusers in a bid not only to better understand why they commit sexual abuse but to identify the patterns to stop abuse before it happens.

Adele Ferguson exposed loopholes in cosmetic surgery. Photo: Meg Keene

Gold Walkley award-winning investigative journalist Adele Ferguson is nationally known for working closely with whistleblowers.

Her work has seen systematic change occur within Australia’s financial, aged care and franchising sectors.

Ferguson’s journalism recently demonstrated the legal loopholes around cosmetic surgery and the potentially dire ramifications.

“Hundreds of women were coming to me asking me to tell their story; I just thought I can’t leave it alone,” said Ferguson.

Naomi Moran of the Koori Mail got to work in Lismore after the floods. Photo: Emma Brasier

Naomi Moran, general manager of the Koori Mail, said she and her staff took the extraordinary decision to stop publishing the newspaper after flood waters devastated their Lismore offices and focus their energies on helping the community.

The Koori Mail team provided food, water, shelter and supplies for the entire community, not just the local Aboriginal community the newspaper usually serves.

“Regardless of where you come from or what you look like, people need help,” she said.

In the absence of government support, Moran continues to provide practical and immediate assistance to Lismore’s residents.

“It’s just about being a bloody good human being,” she said.


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