An award for the whole community

VIDEO: Stuart Baker and Patrick McGorry tell how the campaign was embraced by the community.

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THE Border Mail was last week awarded two Walkley Awards in Canberra.

The newspaper’s Ending the Suicide Silence campaign took out the Excellence in Journalism award in the coverage of community and regional affairs category.

The newspaper won the category and, in a surprise, also picked up a leadership in journalism award, a prestigious peer-nominated category, for the campaign.

The Ending the Suicide Silence campaign was launched on August 4, as a week-long campaign telling the stories of those affected by suicide, examining the mental health system and lobbying for services.

The campaign began with the story of Mary Baker, daughter of former Albury mayor Stuart Baker and his wife Annette.

It soon focused on an associated bid by the region for funding for of a headspace centre for Albury-Wodonga, involving a butterfly campaign and Facebook page.

Editor of The Border Mail Di Thomas led a delegation to Canberra on Wednesday to meet federal Mental Health Minister Mark Butler as part of the continuing push for the Border’s case for a headspace centre.

Ms Thomas along with former editor Heath Harrison, accepted the Walkley awards in Canberra.

Ms Thomas recognised the bravery of all those who had shared their stories with the newspaper.

“This is a tribute to the bravery of all of those young people, parents and individuals who spoke frankly with us about an issue that has predominately been pushed under the carpet,” she said.

“This award is not about any individual. It is a tribute to the enormous talent throughout our newsroom with everyone having made a contribution to our campaign.

“I am enormously grateful to my predecessor Heath Harrison for having the courage to tackle a subject so delicate and so sensitive.”

The judges described The Border Mail campaign as “genuine community engagement on an issue that was of great importance to the community”.

“It was courageous, dignified and superbly put together,” they said.

In a presentation for the Leadership in Journalism award, leading youth mental health advocate Professor Patrick McGorry praised The Border Mail.

“I was very impressed by the professionalism, the courage and the innovation that they showed and I think they are an example to lots of other media outlets around the country,” he said.

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