REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Amazing people are all around us

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by ACM digital specialist Betina Hughes.

ADVOCATE: Journalist Belinda-Jane Davis works at The Maitland Mercury in New South Wales' Hunter Valley. One of her drought-related campaigns involved collecting 21,000 signatures on a petition to secure a parliamentary debate about drought support.

ADVOCATE: Journalist Belinda-Jane Davis works at The Maitland Mercury in New South Wales' Hunter Valley. One of her drought-related campaigns involved collecting 21,000 signatures on a petition to secure a parliamentary debate about drought support.

As a journalist, you meet some amazing people.

Strong, brave, heart-warming people of all ages and backgrounds.

Yet sometimes the ones sitting at the desk next to you are among the most exceptional of all.

For the most part, journalists are working with one beneficiary in mind - their communities.

My colleague, The Maitland Mercury's Belinda-Jane Davis, is one of those journalists.

Over the past two years she has lived The Big Dry - through the many interactions with drought-impacted communities, and her own experiences as a fifth-generation farmer.

She's received nominations and awards throughout her coverage, but I say with confidence these accolades were never her goal.

She would give it all away in exchange for drought-breaking rain.

Through her work, she has encouraged empathy and inspired action.

Yesterday, she took time out of her much-deserved holiday to travel to Sydney for a Q&A drought special, with the aim of supporting and advocating for farmers.

HERE TO HELP: Belinda-Jane Davis' view at the ABCs Q and A debate on Monday night.

HERE TO HELP: Belinda-Jane Davis' view at the ABCs Q and A debate on Monday night.

Throughout Australian Community Media, there are many passionate journalists like Belinda-Jane.

At Dubbo's Daily Liberal, Kim Bartley and colleagues have been tackling the city's water crisis.

Recently, The Bendigo Advertiser's Emma D'Agostino has been highlighting unemployment and housing issues in her region. In 2018, along with her editor Nicole Ferrie and colleague Natalie Croxon, she was recognised Walkley Foundation and Our Watch for outstanding reporting of violence against women and children.

In Mandurah, Carla Hildebrandt created the Annette: Cold Case Unlocked series The Batemans Bay Post and the South Coast Register teams have been advocating for improvements to the Princes Highway on the South Coast of New South Wales with their Fix It Now campaign.

And no one could forget Joanne McCarthy's passion and dedication which led to a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In my role as a journalist, I've had the opportunity to work with reporters across the ACM network.

Journalists are dedicated to serving their communities and it constantly inspires me.

It's not always easy, but absolutely worth it.

Betina Hughes

ACM digital specialist

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