Senior journalist Sandra Morello has an unwavering mantra of striving to give a voice to those who in our community who feel that are not being heard.
From exposing the entrenched staffing problems at Mount Gambier Hospital to the unprecedented community outcry over the forward sale of the region’s publicly owned forestry estate, Sandra has been at the forefront of community news.
“I want to give a voice to people who feel they have no voice or nobody is listening,” Ms Morello says.
She says it is vital the grassroots community is given a platform to tell their stories or raise issues that too often get ignored or overlooked.
Although this often means butting heads with prominent politicians, departmental heads or local government leaders, Ms Morello has never shied away from expressing the views of the community or breaking significant stories.
Often people in authority are quick to blame journalists for these stories, but the reality is the newspaper is simply the voice of the community.
A multiple winner of the South Australian Country Press Association Awards “excellence in journalism”, this determined journalist was pivotal in pushing for the palliative care services to be restored by the former Labor Government.
“This decision to slash these services to dying people in our community was one of the most reprehensible I have seen in my 25 year-plus career in journalism,” Ms Morello explains.
It was simply a budgetary move to reduce services to the most vulnerable in our community.
“It took a long and vigorous campaign by The Border Watch team and the community to see these services finally restored.”
More recently, Ms Morello has played a lead role in cementing an independent inquiry into the entrenched staffing problems at Mount Gambier Hospital.
Her stories uncovered the depth of problems at the hospital, which has led to sweeping changes across the hospital over the past two years.
“We knew we had to expose the raft of the serious staffing issues at Mount Gambier Hospital to ensure patient care remained paramount,” Ms Morello says.
The issue hit the flashpoint when junior doctors and nursing staff were raising the alarm bell with his newspaper and “breaking down in tears”.
“It was discerning the hospital’s management were continuing to deny any of these issues existed. At that time it appeared they simply wanted to sweep them under the carpet, away from public view.”
While the hospital now appears have made major inroads into solving these problems, it is fair to say the government would not have announced the inquiry without The Border Watch’s extensive coverage on the issue.
“The Border Watch has a talented team of reporters and is led by a professional and dedicated management team, which enables us to deliver important news to our community,” Ms Morello says.
Ms Morello’s reporting has also included nearly 20 years of covering all tiers of government.
Reporting both Grant District Council and City Council meetings, Ms Morello has been immersed in grassroots issues that go beyond rates, roads and rubbish.
From the unprecedented uproar over the initial Main Corner plans to standing up for ratepayers on numerous issues, Ms Morello’s reporting has uncovered a raft of issues and driven tangible in the decisions being made.
“I also love telling stories and talking to people. I have met so many people from across a wide section of the community,” Ms Morello said.
But she revealed reporting on tragedies in our community were undoubtedly the most challenging and difficult for a regionally-based journalist.
“We live in tight-knit community and these tragedies have a long and far reaching impact on all of us.”