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Sean Dorney lends his name to Pacific journalism award

Sean Dorney (Vanessa Gordon)
Sean Dorney (Vanessa Gordon)

SYDNEY - Veteran reporter Sean Dorney has given his name to a $10,000 journalism grant, to be awarded annually by Australia’s Walkley Foundation starting this year.

The Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism will support a major work of Australian journalism about an underreported issue or development in the region.

Walkley Foundation chief executive Louisa Graham announced the grant on Friday in the presence of Sean Dorney.

“Having recognised Sean’s outstanding contribution to journalism, we were very aware of his decades of inimitable work in the Pacific,” Ms Graham said.

“We’re delighted to be collaborating with Sean on this grant. It’s a practical and powerful way to empower a journalist and a media outlet to report on the Pacific, and to continue Sean’s impact and legacy in the industry he loves.”

Sean Dorney has had a 40-year career as an ABC journalist in Papua New Guinea and throughout the Pacific islands.

He retired from the ABC four years ago and is facing the challenge of living with motor neurone disease.

“It is essential that Australians know what is going on to our immediate north and east,” Mr Dorney said.

Sean and Kerry
Sean Dorney and Kerry O'Brien at Friday night's launch of the awards named in Dorney's honour (Jemima Garrett)

“There are heaps of stories there and I hope we hear and read about more of them, thanks to this welcome initiative.”

“China's increasing presence in the Pacific seems to have generated new interest in Canberra. It's now vital to increase our media coverage,” he said.

“This grant will help overcome the big obstacle—which is the cost—for journalists wanting to get out to our Pacific island neighbours.

“I am absolutely honoured that the Walkley Foundation is setting up this grant for Pacific Journalism in my name.”

Full terms and conditions will be available when applications open next Friday 12 April. Applications close on 7 May.

The winner will be announced at the Walkley mid-year celebration on 26 June.

You can read more details here.


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Daniel Kumbon

Great initiative for Pacific journalists by a great man who always tried to help and encourage journalists in PNG when he was ABC correspondent here.

I will shortly reproduce a letter he wrote to me on 7 March 1988 for PNG Attitude readers.

The great man wrote to me immediately after receiving a copy of Enga Nius which I produced and distributed widely.

Enga Nius was one of the few regional, provincial or local publications produced in PNG at the time.

His prediction that I would run into trouble happened 20 years later.

Sean Dorney indeed has a generous heart. And his name will live on.

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