Coverage of Indigenous affairs, and in-depth reports into a range of other critical but often neglected topics, will receive a much-needed boost through a landmark partnership between the Centre for Advancing Journalism, the Guardian Australia, and philanthropic partners.
The CAJ, The Citizen and student journalists at the University of Melbourne will partner with the Guardian Australia’s editors and specialist reporters in producing in-depth stories on Indigenous, environment, human rights, inequality and governance issues.
The Indigenous reporting project will be driven by the Guardian’s Indigenous affairs editor Lorena Allam, whose appointment to the role has just been announced. Formerly an ABC and BBC broadcaster and investigative reporter with 27 years experience, Allam is from the Gamilarai-Yawalaraay peoples of north-west New South Wales. She was a contributor to the Bringing Them Home Inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.
“Now more than ever there’s a need to understand that Indigenous Australia is made up of many different experiences, viewpoints and voices on the issues that affect us all, whether they are political, cultural, social or historical,” Allam says. “Being able to tell those stories and contribute to that understanding is a fantastic opportunity and responsibility.”
The projects are facilitated by the Guardian Civic Journalism Trust, announced this week. The Trust has been founded with grants worth $700,000 from the Balnaves Foundation, for in-depth reporting and educational activities on Indigenous affairs, and the Susan McKinnon Foundation for investigative reporting and educational activities on governance and political accountability. The grants will fund projects over the next three years.
“The trust allows us to accept donations towards doing more of the journalism that our readers want and that our democracy needs, and at the same time help educate and mentor the next generation of civic journalists in Australia,” said Lenore Taylor, editor of the Guardian Australia.
All reporting underwritten by the Trust will be editorially independent and clearly identified.
All projects have an educational component to equip the future generation of Australian journalists with skills through capacity-building programs coordinated by the CAJ, including student internships, cadet mentoring, guest lectures and student workshops.
The trust has tax-deductible status and has the benefit of an advisory group which includes Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor, the director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism, Associate Professor Andrew Dodd, and senior leaders in the Faculty of Arts.
The University of Melbourne is the trustee and administrator of the trust. Guardian Australia’s parent company, Guardian News and Media, has contributed an initial gift of $50,000 which establishes the trust and is held in perpetuity.
Professor Denise Varney, Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne, said:
“It is fantastic to see the trust provide an opportunity for our students to work so closely with professionals in the field of investigative journalism – especially on such important topics. We’re very keen for our students to benefit from work-integrated learning that helps them to understand how best to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom, and this trust will enable students in our Centre for Advancing Journalism to take steps towards making a broader contribution to the quality of public debate in Australia.”
Hamish Balnaves, general manager, The Balnaves Foundation, said:
“The grant will increase the diversity of voices in the media and provide an avenue for in-depth coverage of Indigenous affairs. We are proud to be supporting public interest journalism that will shed a light on untold stories and increase public discourse on Indigenous issues.”