Pacific Scoop

Bougainville’s New Dawn FM wins global media award

Post-war weapons recovered. Photo: New Dawn FM

Post-war weapons recovered. Photo: New Dawn FM

By Pacific Media Watch

A pioneering community radio station in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous province of Bougainville has won the University of Queensland’s global 2009 Communication and Social Change Award.

Based in the town of Buka, locally-owned New Dawn FM 95.3 was founded to help rebuild Bougainville’s civil society in the wake of a devastating 10-year internal conflict with a death toll of 20,000 people, and 40,000 others being displaced.

UQ’s annual Communication and Social Change Award was launched in 2006 to honour outstanding contributions by individuals or organisations around the world to the theory and practice of communication for social change.

Announcing the 2009 award-winner, the head of UQ’s School of Journalism and Communication, Professor Michael Bromley, said it was significant that a South Pacific media organisation had won for the first time since the award began.

“New Dawn FM’s mission is to restore freedom of expression and promote the reconciliation process on Bougainville, by giving a voice to local communities that have been dispossessed by civil war.

“Our independent 2009 award jury panel, which included senior representatives of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian government’s overseas development agency, AusAID, unanimously agreed that New Dawn FM 95.3 community radio’s brave and pioneering work is in the best tradition of international grassroots activism to promote communication for social change,” Professor Bromley said.

This year there was a strong international field of 19 nominations for the award, which comprises a plaque and A$2500.

As well as Papua New Guinea, award nominees came from organisations or individuals based in Bangladesh, Burundi, Canada, the Congo, Fiji, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda and the US.

Reflecting the consistently high-calibre of entries, the CSC jury also awarded a special meritorious commendation for Communication and Social Change Award to Indian graphic designer and artist Lakshmi Murthy for her innovative and ground-breaking use of graphic design to promote communication and social change.

The winner of this award receives A$1500 and a plaque.

The awards are administered by the UQ School of Journalism and Communication’s Centre for Communication and Social Change. The fast-growing social science discipline of CSC promotes the use of various forms of communication (including community media, and information and communication technologies, or ICTs) to bring about positive participatory development and social change.

The 2009 CSC award jury was chaired by Professor Ken Wiltshire, AO (JD Story professor of public administration, UQ).

Other jury members were: Annmaree O’Keeffe (Deputy Director-General, AusAID), Peter Cave (foreign editor of ABC News), Hugh Leonard (former secretary-general of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union), professor
Michael Bromley (head of the School of Journalism and Communication, UQ), and Dr Zala Volcic (Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, UQ), associate professor Pradip Thomas (research director, School of
Journalism and Communication, UQ).

The executive secretary to the jury was Associate Professor Martin Hadlow (director, Centre for Communication and Social Change, School of Journalism and Communication.)

New Dawn’s manager, Aloysius Laukai, will fly to Brisbane next month for the awards presentation at UQ’s  St Lucia campus.

Source: Pacific Media Watch/UQ News Online, 23/8/9.
See Torokina deadly weapons clean-up
More on New Dawn FM at Cafe Pacific


  1. Graham Davis, 26. August 2009, 1:03

    As someone who reported from Bougainville during the worst of the troubles, it’s wonderful for me to see some 18 years on that so much can be achieved by a community radio station like New Dawn. I was also interested to see that one of judges is Hugh Leonard, a former big wig in the Asian Broadcasting Union but once a humble disc jockey on Radio Fiji. As a kid growing up in Fiji, I well remember Hugh hosting the Ipana hit parade in the 1960’s. His signature saying was ” Hi there, you there, Hugh here! before introducing the latest from Roy Orbison or the Beatles. Wonderful times in Fiji so vinaka Hugh for being so groovy we all wanted to be like you! I’ve never had the privilege of meeting the man but know from his work nearly 50 years ago that he has an acute sense of what it means in the Pacific to connect with your audience. It’s great that he was able to reward the staff of New Dawn for doing what he and the great names of Radio Fiji like Robert Philips and Paul Sloane ( to recall just a couple ) did for us all so long ago. Hugh, you are not forgotten by you teenage audience on the Ipana Hit Parade!

  2. Hugh Leonard, 28. August 2009, 13:04

    Graham, how nice of you! Thank you for reminding me of the good old days of my misspent youth at Radio Fiji. You must be one of the few who remember. I attended a reunion of FBC staff in Suva last year and there are still some survivors of those glorious days but, sadly, many others are no longer with us. I was saddened to learn of the death last month of Stan Ritova, whom you would have known, another member of the pioneer media corps in Suva back in those times. Vinaka vakalevu, Graham.