Joanne McCarthy (journalist)Joanne Maree Therese McCarthy is an Australian journalist.
Through an extensive series of reports for The Newcastle Herald, McCarthy is widely considered to have played a role in initiating the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The series of stories detailed incidents of historic sexual abuse of children within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, and attempts by the church at covering up the allegations of abuse while protecting the Catholic priests who were accused of abusing children.
McCarthy's series of articles commenced in 2006 when she received a phone call from a local reader who asked why the conviction of priest John Denham, who was still working with the church, had never been covered by the local media. This prompted McCarthy to begin an ongoing investigation, beginning with the story of Denham which uncovered numerous cases of children being abused by priests across the Hunter Region, and subsequent cover-ups by the church including Patrick Cotter's cover-up of crimes perpetrated by Vince Ryan.
McCarthy also found the church had attempted to cover-up abuse allegedly committed by Denis McAlinden, who had died in 2005 without being successfully prosecuted. McCarthy's reporting about McAlinden prompted the church to issue an apology for instances of abuse by church personnel with an admission that the church had already been cooperating with authorities regarding McAlinden "for some time".
Following the suicide of abuse victim John Pirona in 2012, McCarthy wrote an opinion piece where she said "there will be a royal commission because there must be", which prompted editor Chad Watson and McCarthy to spearhead the newspaper's "Shine the Light" campaign in an attempt for a royal commission to be held, to seek justice for the victims. Following a "Shine the Light" rally, which was attended by Detective Chief Inspecter Peter Fox, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a royal commission would be created. Gillard's final act as Prime Minister in 2013 was to write a letter to McCarthy thanking her for the work she had done.
For her coverage on local historic child sex abuse cases within the Catholic Church, McCarthy won the 2013 Gold Walkley.
McCarthy has said she identifies with the movie Spotlight due to the similarities between her work and that of the investigative journalists at The Boston Globe who uncovered the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston sex abuse scandal.
Following a brief period of working as a nurse at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, McCarthy began her journalism career with a cadetship at the Gosford Star in 1980, before she moved to the Central Coast Express Advocate. In 2002, she joined The Newcastle Herald. McCarthy graduated from Henry Kendall High School in 1977. The oldest of 11 children, McCarthy grew up in a Catholic family.