Journalism and domestic violence

Journalism in Australia is about to take a giant step forward.

The  Walkley Foundation for Excellence in Journalism will administer new awards for superlative media coverage of domestic violence.


.The awards, known as Our Watch Awards, were launched by Rosie Batty at the National Press Club on June 3 2015. Rosie Batty is the 2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty is a passionate campaigner against domestic violence.  She says we should call family violence what it really is – family terrorism.

Rosie Batty launched Our Watch journalism awards
Rosie Batty launched Our Watch journalism awards

Journalism assessment for Our Watch Awards

The Walkley Foundation announced the following criteria for the awards:

‘Entries will  be assessed on their value to promote awareness of violence against women that demonstrates the following qualities 

  • Promote gender equality and respectful relationships.
  • Challenge stereotypes about how men and women should behave, and supporting myths that place blame on the victim or find excuses for perpetrator behaviour.
  • Describe the effects of violence against women including its effects on the community as a whole.
  • Give voice to women who have experienced violence.
  • Encourage men to take responsibility for their use of violent or abusive behaviour and the prevention of violence against women.
  • Reflect on the impact of unequal distribution of power and resources between men and women.
  • Draw attention to the relationship between community attitudes, power inequalities and violence against women.
  • Explore key social and economic determinants of violence against women such as gender roles and relations, and social norms and practices relating to violence against women.
  • Draw on current research on violence against women.
  • Provide information about how friends and family can support those affected by violence against women.
  • Raise awareness of successes of community projects that seek to reduce violence against women.
  • Provide information about resources and services available to those who are affected by violence against women’

I am a survivor of domestic violence. Since then, I have worked with victims of child, intimate-partner and elder abuse. I applaud Our Watch and its aims. This high-level, non-profit organisation was established

‘to drive nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that lead to violence against women and children’

Congratulations also to the Walkley Foundation. I have an especially soft spot for the Walkley Foundation. My memoir Other People’s Country was listed for a Walkley Award in 2008. The book is about an Aboriginal community where I once worked. In it I wrote extensively about domestic violence.


We are familiar with the appalling family violence statistics.

All institutions share the responsibility to end domestic violence. Families, religious institutions, health and education facilities, the justice system, sporting organisations, workplaces and the media must become involved. They must become informed. They must also respond appropriately whenever there is family violence.

Individuals have a responsibility to learn about it and name it for what it is. Our response may be a matter of life and death.

Journalism plays a major role. It includes the provision of information and education about issues as well as reporting occurrences of domestic violence.

I look forward to the time when all journalism about domestic violence is non-sexist. I look forward to when victims are no longer blamed. The Our Watch Awards will encourage this process.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000. 

2 replies on “Journalism and domestic violence”

  1. Well said as always MH. Will it get into Men’s Magazines and the like??
    Hopefully it will also be used throughout Medical and Nursing Journals. Rosiex

    1. Lovely to her from you again, Rosie. The Walkleys are like the the Man Booker Prize or the Miles Franklin. They are awarded for excellence in journalism and people are nominated on a long list and that’s whittled down to a short list in a number of categories. It would be really wonderful if journalists in men’s magazines and medical and nursing journals were to be awarded a Walkley for Excellence in reporting domestic violence. How wonderful would that be! Only you would have thought of that application. Thank you.

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