BOUGAINVILLE community radio station – New Dawn FM 95.3 – was last Friday presented with a prestigious award by the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia.
New Dawn’s general manager Aloysius Laukai received the award from vice-chancellor Prof Paul Greenfield who said it was the first time for the South Pacific region to win the highly competitive award from entrants all over the world.
Called the communication and social change (CSC) award, Prof Greenfield said it was the first of its kind in the world which recognised organisations or individuals that used their communication skills to bring about positive changes in their communities.
He said a high calibre of nominees were received from countries like Bangladesh, Burundi, Canada, the Congo, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, Fiji, India, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, USA and PNG.
Mr Laukai thanked UQ for recognising the efforts of New Dawn FM and accepted the award on behalf of his hard-working staff on Buka.
The radio station is involved in a lot of work in trying to bring together a province that had been affected by a long and protracted civil war that killed about 20,000 people and displaced moe than 40,000 people who are now rebuilding their communities.
PNG’s consul-general to Brisbane Paul Nerau was among the guests, most of them academics, to witness the presentation which included a plaque and A$2,500 (about K5,000).
Based in Buka, in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, New Dawn FM 95.3, is planning to install two transmitters between Buka and Arawa and is expected to open its studio in Arawa.
New Dawn FM 95.3 community radio, which is owned and run by Bougainville journalists, was founded to help rebuild civil society in their homeland in the wake of the devastating 10-year internal conflict.
The annual CSC Award was created by UQ’s school of journalism and communication’s centre for communication and social change in 2006.
The award honours outstanding contributions by individuals or organisations around the world to the theory and practice of communication for social change .
Announcing this year’s 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 grass-roots activism to promote communication for social change,” Prof Bromley said.