By Layla Murrihy
In her 27 years as one of Australia’s most acknowledged investigative journalists, Paula Doneman believes crime reporting is powerful as it affects everyone. “It’s the melting pot of society, encompassing everything from politics, health and education,” Doneman says.
Driven by instinct, she transformed a quick conversation with two police officers about drug trade into Queensland’s first Commission of Inquiry into the illicit drug trade in prison.
“No matter how big or small, every inch and inroad you make, makes a difference,” she says.
“You get [it] on the public record and it becomes a part of history.”
Doneman has been a gateway for many to have their stories told.
She speaks of a particular instance which moved her, bringing together victims of a school teacher sexual assault case.
Listening to their struggles and the impact of a crime which had followed these women since only their second year at school, she helped voice their experiences.
This prompted other victims to come forward and unmask who was responsible.
“In this line of work, I admire anyone who has the courage to speak out,” Doneman says.
“It was a pretty amazing moment for me, to give them this voice, I could see it was cathartic for them.”
As the daughter of a psychologist and police officer, she had an upbringing where a normal dinner conversation alternated from crime to politics.
She’s been raised to know the importance of the public interest – often watching her mum march from home to be a part of a new protest.
She has seen the incredible impact of advocating for change.
Now, it’s one of the main reasons she loves being a journalist. She will be sharing her tips and advice at the third national Women In Media conference at Bond University on September 13 and 14, 2019.
“Meeting people who are at the lowest point of their lives, I get to see them turn it around,” she says.
“The human spirit is an incredible, formidable force.”
Inspiring social change and conversation, her work does not go unnoticed.
Doneman has been part of seven different award-winning team and individual projects, including for the New York Post where she worked for five months on the New York Limited exchange program.
No matter what position she has held – editor, reporter, author – she is and has always been, foremost, a journalist.
“Whether it was challenging a boss who told me a particular job was only for boys, or being dismissed because I was on my period,” Doneman says.
“I taught myself to always be considered a journalist before anything else, gender has nothing to do with it.”
Doneman is a big believer in listening to that little voice in her head and to trust your instinct. She encourages all budding females to back themselves as they head into this industry.
“Remind yourself that you are here because you are good at what you do,” she says.
Paula Doneman will speak at Women in Media’s third national conference at Bond University on September 13-14, 2019.