Nina Funnell’s campaign #LetHerSpeak has given a voice to disempowered women and rewritten archaic legislation, writes Jenna Cairney.
Nina Funnell’s campaign #LetHerSpeak has given a voice to disempowered women and rewritten archaic legislation, writes Jenna Cairney.

Righting wrongs the backbone of journalist’s work

FOR journalists like Nina Funnell shining a light on an injustice with a hope of righting wrongs is what motivates their work.

Earlier this year legislation finally passed through Tasmania's Upper House of parliament that allowed more sexual assault survivors to speak out under their own names.

Under the new law, sexual assault victims will be able to use their real name if they are over 18, provide consent to be named in writing, have not been coerced into agreement, and have the capacity to consent.

That happened because the brave survivors shared their stories and told how being gagged by the archaic legislation made them feel disempowered all over again.

Their courage deserves resounding praise.

But their voices would never have been heard were it not for Ms Funnell.

She championed the Let Her Speak campaign.

During the campaign she worked with the Mercury, news.com.au, End Rape On Campus Australia and Marque Lawyers - all of which passionately supported the cause.

She tenaciously advocated for change but every single piece of journalism she published painstakingly so as never to betray the survivors who entrusted her with their stories.

Sexual assault survivor and beneficiary of a scrap in Tasmania's gag laws Grace Tame and Walkley winning journalist Nina Funnell have worked tirelessly to give sexual assault survivors a voice. Picture: Supplied
Sexual assault survivor and beneficiary of a scrap in Tasmania's gag laws Grace Tame and Walkley winning journalist Nina Funnell have worked tirelessly to give sexual assault survivors a voice. Picture: Supplied

The journey continues in the Northern Territory where the campaign run through our sister paper the NT News calls for similar legislative changes there.

Changing legislation is recognition enough for Ms Funnell but that she gained additional acknowledgment this week when she won this year's Our Watch Award at the Walkley's is an appropriate honour to highlight just how important powerful journalism is to our society.

KEEPING AN EYE ON THE MONEY

IF THERE was ever a time when our political leaders should be mindful of misusing public resources for their own benefit one would think the throes of a global pandemic would be it.

But sadly as our story on page 9 of today's Mercury illustrates both major parties in Tasmania's state parliament have been using taxpayer funded resources to promote their candidates in the Rosevears and Huon by-elections.

As University of Tasmania Associate Professor Rick Snell rightly points out there was once a time when our political leaders would go out of their way to avoid falling foul of any inference the public purse had been used for political activity.

Associate Professor in law at the University of Tasmania Rick Snell at his Fern Tree Home, Picture: KIM EISZELE
Associate Professor in law at the University of Tasmania Rick Snell at his Fern Tree Home, Picture: KIM EISZELE

And as Prof Snell also makes clear the real issue is not whether this conduct falls within the technicalities of the State Parliamentarian's Handbook for Elected Members but more so whether the ethics of what has occurred are right.

Also as upper house Independent Meg Webb said, the other aspect of this issue is the impact the use of these resources can have on the election process itself.

Only already elected, or incumbent, politicians have staff and email account precued to send press releases to all of the state's journalists.

This is not to say independent candidates can't, or don't, set this up - but when they do they spend their money, or money people have donated to them, to achieve this.

Everyone wants our election process to be fair, you would think this was simple common sense.

Originally published as Righting wrongs the backbone of journalist's work



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