The newspaper reporter whose stories on child sex abuse in the Catholic Church prompted a royal commission has won Australia’s highest journalism honour.

Joanne McCarthy (above) from the Newcastle Herald was presented with the Gold Walkley Award at a ceremony in Brisbane last night.

She won the award for her coverage on the sexual abuse of children, primarily by Catholic clergy in the New South Wales Newcastle and Hunter Valley region.

McCarthy thanked the victims and their families for trusting her to tell their stories.

“This was about a hell of a lot of individuals in the end across the country who just decided enough was enough,” she said.