Announcing the 2019 Carey Medallist

The Carey Medal Committee is pleased to announce the 2019 Carey Medallist: Michael Gordon.

Michael passed away in 2018, and we are grateful to his son, Scott, for accepting the award on his behalf at the Senior School Speech Night this week.

Michael began in journalism at the age of 17, following in his father, journalist and editor Harry Gordon’s footsteps. He was an important contributor to Australian journalism for over 44 years. In the words of his colleague Tony Wright, Michael ‘was a rare species in modern journalism: a reporter who was universally admired by colleagues, opponents, sources, readers and all sides of politics.’ He eventually rose to the position of National Political Editor, first at The Australian, then at The Age.

Michael was inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame in 2018, having previously received the 2005 Graeme Perkin Award for Australia’s most outstanding journalist, the Walkley Award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism in 2017, and a United Nations award for his Outstanding Contribution to Humanitarian Journalism in 2018. He also became a mentor to young journalists, a voice for families in Manus Island or Nauru detention centres, and advocate for misunderstood and marginalised First Nations People.

His dedication to humanity and the inclusion of underprivileged people outside of the requirements of his work is a telling indication of Michael’s passion and sense of responsibility as a journalist. He was the first journalist to travel to Nauru and interview refugees who were detained there. He counselled detainees in their distressed states, sought job opportunities for some when they finally settled in Australia, welcomed these former asylum seekers into his family and introduced them to the Australian lifestyle. One former detainee from Nauru described Michael as ‘a brother, who did not see me as a victim, but a human’.

In 2000, Michael journeyed through Australia to meet Indigenous Australians and discover their reactions and opinions to the first reconciliation initiatives. Michael wrote a series of influential and important articles on this issue, informed by what he witnessed first-hand in regards to the needs of Indigenous Australians.

In Scott Gordon’s moving acceptance speech at Speech Night, he reflected on the responses to Michael’s death from former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; former speech writer for Paul Keating, Don Watson; and other Australian politicians and colleagues:

‘Decency, compassion, balance, perspective and integrity were all words that were used to describe Dad after his passing.

‘In my experience, exhibiting these traits in one form or another is part and parcel of belonging to the Carey community. If Dad were here, he would say the same.

‘In the words of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Dad was “someone who saw journalism as a means for making a difference, not merely a living.”

‘Stimulating public awareness and understanding of humanitarian and social justice issues affecting Australia energised Dad. Particularly when it came to Australia’s First Nations People who, in his words, are still treated like second class citizens and subject to racism in their own country; and Asylum Seekers on Manus Island and Nauru who, again in his words, have been defamed, demonised, damaged, and denied human rights for more than four years – all because they aspired to be good citizens in a safe country.’

The Carey Medal Committee is thrilled present this award to Michael, in recognition of the significant impact he had throughout his life.

Nominations are now open for the 2020 Carey Medallist. Find out more information here.

James Newnham
Chair of the Carey Medal Committee