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A Matter of Trust: Writing Sexual Abuse


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In 2013, Joanne McCarthy from the Newcastle Herald received a Gold Walkley Award for her reporting on the sexual abuse cover-up in the Hunter Valley Region. Accepting the award, she thanked the survivors, who had placed their trust in her as a journalist, and in their local paper. ‘People who have every reason in the world not to trust – they trusted us,’ she said.

When it comes to writing and reporting, there aren’t many subjects as sensitive or painful as that of sexual abuse. In this discussion, we’ll hear from two writers who have broached this topic in their work: McCarthy, whose investigations led to the royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse and Manny Waks, author of Who Gave You Permission?, a memoir of the abuse he suffered at the ultra-orthodox Yeshivah Centre Melbourne. Waks has worked as a victim advocate and his research culminated in a public hearing into Australian Jewish institutions at the royal commission.

Hosted by Trauma-scapes author Maria Tumarkin, the pair will discuss the processes and ramifications of this difficult but essential work: interviewing survivors and perpetrators, the challenges of trust and verification and the frustrations of institutional cover-up.

This discussion includes topics that some attendees may find confronting. Audience questions from this event will not be recorded and published.


Maria Tumarkin

Maria Tumarkin writes books, essays, reviews, and pieces for performance and radio; she collaborates with sound and visual artists and has had her work carved into dockside tiles. She is the author of four books of ideas. Her fourth (and latest) book Axiomatic won the 2018 Melbourne Prize for Lit... Read more

Joanne McCarthy

Joanne McCarthy was born and raised on the Central Coast of NSW, the eldest of 11 children. She attended Catholic and public schools and started nursing training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. She became the Gosford Star newspaper’s first cadet journalist in 1980, and eventually wo... Read more

Manny Waks

Manny Waks was raised in Melbourne, the second oldest of 17 children in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family. In 2011, Manny publicly disclosed his personal experiences of child sexual abuse within the Jewish community and undertook extensive work as a victim advocate, culminating in a Royal Commiss... Read more


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