Essay & Opinion



Picture: Vlad Sokhin

In late 2014 I spent 10 days on Manus Island, and several months researching issues relating to Manus, to produce two long-form articles reflecting on the story of this island beyond its context as a detention centre for Australia’s unwanted. At that time Manus Island in the Australian media landscape and popular imagination was little more than a mysterious compound of barbed wire. My interest was in the reality outside the wire – on how Australian policy had changed life for the people on this island. It was a fascinating project, dipping a toe into this so complex, so scrutinised, and yet so unknown society. One article was published in The Monthly magazine, which reflects a little on anthropologist Margaret Mead’s long involvement with the island, and another in The Guardian Australia.

Reporting of this series made possible by an independently awarded grant from GetUps Shipping News project. By Jo Chandler/ Pics Vlad Sokhin. Link here.  




The Lowy Institute: September 2014

How men are getting away with murder in Papua New Guinea.

In this long analysis published by the Lowy Institute, I draw on travels and storytelling in PNG over several years, incorporating fresh interviews and older notebooks and expert insights of PNG commentators, specialists and anthropologists to explore a range of questions around the endemic violence against women in Papua New Guinea. My principle concern is to explain to a wider readership how, and why, justice is still so elusive for victims of violence in PNG. Full report here.. Picture: Sophie Mangai, by Vlad Sokhin. 



Griffith Review (Edition 40, Winter 2013)

‘Women & Power’

Reportage: ‘Taim Bilong Ol Meri’

‘Even the architecture of power in modern PNG conspired to lock women out. Custom banned women from entering, or even approaching, the Haus Tambaran, as the Parliament is colloquially known. Nevertheless, intriguingly, the mosaic over the public entrance to the Parliament depicts two warriors – one male, one female – of equal size, and on equal footing, standing guard over the country’s resources. This was likely an expression of aspiration  … Today it just smacks of cruel delusion.”



GRTassieGriffith Review (Edition 39, Autumn 2013)

‘Tasmania – The Tipping Point’

Reportage: ‘The Science Laboratory’

‘But in science, geography is merely the catalyst. A trawl through the archives of Tasmania’s scientific heritage reveals that while it may determine the climate of the enterprise, other forces materialise to influence the weather. A handful of dynamic, brilliant characters attracted by the opportunity to pursue their own obsessions in turn capture and enthuse students and dreamers, bequeathing traditions and institutions that continue to evolve … Geography, aspiration, inspiration, economy and serendipity collude and, to be unscientific, magic happens.’



Walkley Award 2009: 

All Media: Commentary, Critique and Analysis

Judges Comments:

‘The elegance of Jo Chandler’s prose and the passion behind each word makes these pieces utterly compelling. This is empathetic journalism at its finest. She has aired voices which could not be heard in their own country and has brought them to vivid life. Refreshingly, Chandler has found a new way to persuade us to engage with Third World oppression and suffering. A good read. ‘

Click here to see to full judges reports and full package of stories.