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The two recipients of this year’s Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism had a very special meeting in Brisbane this past week – with the namesake of their grant, Sean Dorney.

Marian Faa and Stefan Armbruster met Sean at his home in Brisbane. 

“Sean wasn’t at the Mid-Year Walkleys where Marian and I were awarded the Pacific Journalism Grant, so we agreed that when we were both next in Brisbane we would go to meet up with Sean to thank him personally,” Stefan said.

Sean was very pleased to meet the two winners of this year’s grant at the home he shares with his wife, Pauline Mare, who is originally a radio journalist from Manus Island.

Left to right: Pauline Mare, Marian Faa, Sean Dorney, Stefan Armbruster.

I have long held Stefan in high regard. He and I covered a lot of Pacific stories together when I was still an ABC journalist. So I am always pleased to catch up with him,” Sean said.

“It’s not the first time I’ve met Marian either and I was delighted to chat with her again. We have a common passion for the Pacific region.”

Marian agreed. 

“We always have a great catch-up about Pacific issues and share many laughs. I love hearing Sean’s stories from his time covering PNG and his insights and journalistic advice are like gold to me,” she said. 

“Pauline and I have a connection through Manus Island, where Pauline is from and where I was born.”

Marian and Stefan are currently working on their respective stories funded by the Grant. 

Marian’s project explores women’s experiences of abortion in Pacific contexts, and Stefan is digging into issues around the Pacific Games and the 2024 elections in the Solomon Islands. Both journalists say these stories would be difficult to tell without the support of the Grant. 

“This grant really gets a story pitch over the line (because it) enables a project with both financial support and significant editorial acknowledgement,” said Stefan.

“With the intensive geopolitical focus in the Pacific right now, context is more necessary than ever, so this reportage is important to help Australians better understand the region and Australia’s relationship with it.”

Marian added: “The Pacific is such an important region that doesn’t always get the coverage it deserves. This is changing with the support and encouragement of people like Sean and other veterans of Pacific journalism.

“Travelling in the Pacific is logistically challenging and can be quite expensive. As a journalist, that often means having to do interviews and cover issues remotely. With a highly sensitive topic like the one I am researching, I think it is so important to be able to meet people face-to-face, in their own environments. 

“The story I am working on with this grant is about women’s experiences of abortion in the Pacific. It is important to report on issues like these to increase awareness and improve the safety and well-being of women in the Pacific. There are some fantastic and passionate doctors and advocates working in this space.”

The Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism is funded by the Walkley Public Fund. Recipients receive $10,000 to produce a story of interest to Australian audiences. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support the the Fund, you can do so here

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