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Country Press SA

Excellence in Journalism


Judged by Kym Tilbrook

This is Kym’s 255h straight year of judging the annual Country Press Awards. He is a former senior manager at The Advertiser for 37 years. Kym is the author of five books including Through Our Eyes, the history of the Country Press Association of South Australia.

It was good to see in entries in Excellence in Journalism continuing to rise. There were 15 entries for the award which gives journalists the opportunity to showcase their craft in investigative reporting and day-to-day reporting.

Criteria for the award states: “A local news or human-interest story – must be breaking news, delving into an issue in the entrant newspaper’s community.”

Issues tackled and put under the spotlight included domestic violence, security at regional hospitals, the removal of medical services from country towns, the need for more palliative care services in the regions and the management of sport and recreation centres.

Picking a winner was not easy. There was some excellent journalism and, like last year, there could have been more than one winner…however, I could only pick one.

I awarded first place to Tara Nash, of the Southern Argus, for her excellent work to tell the story of domestic violence victim, Glyn Scott, 78, who suffered sexual abuse as a child and, later, horrific violence from her husband.

Glyn says her husband brutalised her during her first pregnancy and she spent a month in hospital when her son was born. “The night I came home from hospital after having two lots of surgery, he raped me again and I fell pregnant,” Glyn reveals in Tara’s compelling article.

Tara’s interview comes with a warning to readers about the content. It is a harrowing read. Like other entries on domestic violence in recent years, it leads a lasting impact on the reader.

Tara wrote that domestic violence is sadly still a prevalent issue in our society, with one in three women and two in five men reporting experiencing physical violence.

It is not easy to find domestic violence victims who will go into great detail about the shocking violence in their past, but Tara built up a rapport with Glyn and wrote the well-crafted article for White Ribbon Day.

Glyn wanted to shine a light on domestic violence and advocate for victims, something she has been doing since 2015 when she founded the Love, Hope & Gratitude Foundation.

Tara is to be congratulated on her interview and story which met all the criteria for the award – “a local news or human-interest story – must be breaking news, delving into an issue in the entrant newspaper’s community.”

Second place goes to Michelle Daw of the Yorke Peninsula Country Times. Michelle tackled the long-running issue of security at regional hospitals. Her series of 10 stories, including four front pages, over nearly eight months was sparked by an incident at the Wallaroo Hospital where a man smashed four glass panels on the hospital’s entrance doors. He used a security camera which he had ripped off the building’s exterior.

Michelle stayed on top of the issue by keeping regular contact with the Department of Health and nurses’ union. She also questioned the Minister of Health at a doorstop at a Country Cabinet meeting.

Her well-written stories reported on the nurses’ pleas for 24/7 guards at the hospital. After nearly eight months of covering the issue, it was announced in late September that security guards had begun work around the clock at the hospital in a six-month trial to combat violence and aggressive behaviour against staff.

During the trial an ongoing security model will be developed for the hospital. Michelle is to be congratulated on the way she covered the issue. She used her wide experience in newspapers to keep her community informed.

Third place goes to Louis Mayfield of The Courier for his coverage of what The Courier described in its Page 1 headline as “Footy Farce”.

Louis delved into the management of the $23m Summit Sport and Recreation Park at Mount Barker after it was revealed that the local Mount Barker Football Club would move away from the venue in 2024.

The move followed the Hills Football League decision to also move away from the park in early 2023. After Louis broke the story, it was followed up by The Advertiser and ABC Radio.

A follow-up story by Louis focused on the operating deficit of the council-owned and operated park and the council’s silence over how it planned to reduce that deficit without the support of the local club and league.

Because of the calibre of entries, I gave three Honourable mentions.

Sam Lowe of The Murray Valley Standard for his article focussing on the controversial issue of medical services being removed from Karoonda.

His article played a key role in keeping his community informed.

Sophie Conlon of The Border Watch for her expose of problems at the local recreation centre. The lengthy coverage of the issue was well researched and she revealed both sides of the story. Her story alleged poor work culture at the centre had resulted in a large number of staff leaving plus complaints from staff and the public.

Two workplace health and safety complaints are being investigated as Sophie continues her investigation.

Emma Heidenreich of The Times for her examination of the growing need for improved palliative care services in regional SA. She revealed limited palliative care beds and service funding in regional hospitals often forces residents to die in an unknown place, far from home and family.


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