“The Salvos: A matter of trust”


Background Briefing, ABC Radio National




Radio/Audio: Documentary, Feature, Podcast or Special

This story investigates the Salvation Army’s ongoing cover-up of child sexual abuse, and exposes the Army’s true attitudes to child sex offenders and whistleblowers. It reveals new evidence on confessed child sex abuser Colin Haggar that was not tendered to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and breaks allegations against a second offender still in the Army. 

Sarah Dingle gained interviews with victims who had refused to appear at the Commission, or to speak in public. She obtained documents that showed the Army had a policy – previously denied – requiring officers’ legal obligation to report child sexual abuse. She tracked down former colleagues of Colin Haggar, most of whom were too afraid of the Army hierarchy to give interviews. 

The documentary broke news while protecting identities, and without breaching Commission orders or compromising police investigations. “The Salvos” aired on the annual Red Shield Appeal weekend. Donations fell 20 per cent.    

 Sarah Dingle is an investigative journalist with the ABC, working in radio current affairs and documentary as well as television reporting for many of the ABC’s flagship current affairs outlets. She won this Walkley category last year with “The Family Trap” for Background Briefing.

She has also won a UN Media Peace Prize, and a Kennedy Award for radio current affairs. Her work has been recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the National Press Club and Amnesty International. 

Judges’ comments:

Making it not just a story of an Australian caught up in events in a foreign land, Hayden Cooper extended his view to take in Greste’s co-accused colleagues and the issue of press freedom more broadly. His well-written reports grab the listeners’ attention, bringing the personal and the political issues equally to the forefront. A pure radio piece, Hayden Cooper personalised and drew people into what was a breaking story.