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Nat Whiting's well-merited humanitarian award

Nat with friends at Divine Word Uni
Natalie (Nat) Whiting enjoys a barbecue with friends at Divine Word University in Madang


NOOSA - Natalie Whiting, the ABC’s Papua New Guinea correspondent, has won a major media award for her news coverage of the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.

The annual award is given by the Australian Council for International Development’s (ACFID) to recognise a journalist who reports with skill and understanding on international humanitarian issues.

“Natalie’s reporting was an excellent example of ethical development and humanitarian reporting,” said ACFID president, Susan Pascoe.

“It highlighted the repercussions of the crisis whilst upholding the dignity of her subjects and gave voice to their experience. It was achieved with great sensitivity and respect.”

In July 2018, Natalie Whiting became the first woman to be appointed to the exacting role of ABC correspondent in PNG.

In some ways it was an unlikely appointment because of her gender but, in a career of extensive experience in regional Australia, Natalie had won several media awards and demonstrated outstanding ability across radio, television and online.

Natalie on the job filming on Manus Island

Upon her arrival in PNG, I reflected on my own media experience in the country.

“When I found myself in Chimbu 55 years ago, I realised I was surrounded by big and exhilarating stories and soon found opportunities, initially as a freelance, to tell them…. I can think of no greater calling in journalism than to tell the story of PNG to the world.”

Natalie was the only foreign correspondent working in PNG during the pandemic and said she “felt a great weight of responsibility to tell the story sensitively, accurately and thoroughly to the Australian audience.

“PNG has only vaccinated around 4% of its eligible population. It has a long way to go with strengthening its health systems, battling misinformation and guarding against future outbreaks and new strains of the virus.

“I hope Australians continue to take an interest in their nearest neighbour; the beautiful nation of PNG is just four kilometres from Australia.

“I owe a huge vote of thanks to the PNG journalists I work alongside. I have been proud to be a member of PNG’s press pack during the pandemic.

“There have been so many good journalists who have been covering the story relentlessly, in very difficult conditions,” Natalie said.

Natalie Whiting“The even more difficult job, however, belongs to the health workers who have been on the frontline for almost two years.

“I am in awe of the families impacted by the pandemic who have had the strength to speak out, in a bid to try to improve the situation for others.”


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Matt Ellis

Well deserved.

I have long held the view that journalists are essentially lazy beings recycling the media statements issued by various organisations.

Not so our Natalie. From my experience of living through the pandemic in PNG that she is reporting on and the battle to get employees vaccinated I can safely say that Natalie is reporting accurately and fearlessly. All that we ask from good journalism. In addition she reports with the sort of sensitivity and empathy that can only come from deep understanding.

Lindsay F Bond

Tears of happiness for Natalie. As I see, on every occasion of her reporting, Natalie gives expression to realities such that are - not heightened not lessened, fitting to and enlightening.

Natalie is aware of her audience and aware of life being precariously ventured in some places of PNG, yet astonishingly visually and humanly delightful.

Tears also but sadly, that is because some much of Australia’s ‘media’ chooses a lesser achievement.

Salutations to Natalie.

Bernard Corden

The benchmark is the late Chris Ashton:

Philip Fitzpatrick

The ABC would do well to utilise Natalie's experience and talents when she eventually returns to Australia.

My initial impression when she was posted to PNG was that the ABC had judged PNG a backwater and not worth the posting of a high profile journalist.

Natilie turned that idea on its head by demonstrating what real journalism is all about. Her shining example of integrity and compassion is something that Australian journalism desperately needs.

Natalie has a distinguished career before being appointed to PNG. The ABC has not considered PNG a backwater since the 1960s - KJ

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