In a diverse career that has encompassed print, radio and television journalism, Heather Ewart has reported in bureaus in Canberra, London, Washington and Brussels.Her first job in journalism was in Melbourne at Leader suburban newspapers, where she worked while still completing her undergraduate studies in Journalism. She later undertook a cadetship at Leader newspapers and started writing for the now defunct Collingwood Fitzroy Courier.
After cutting her teeth at local newspapers, Ewart worked at the ABC radio current affairs unit before moving overseas to become the ABC’s London correspondent in 1983. This led to a long posting in Washington, during which she reported on the Gulf War, the election of Bill Clinton and the first term of Clinton’s presidency. She was then posted to Brussels as the ABC’s Europe correspondent before returning to Melbourne with husband and fellow ABC personality Barrie Cassidy in 2001.
While working at the Collingwood Fitzroy Courier she started reporting on the machinations of the local councils, which sparked her interest in politics. She soon went on to cover state Parliament for the ABC, which in turn led her to the federal arena.
“Politics has dominated my career from an early stage,” Ewart says.
In 2007, Ewart won a prestigious Monash University Gold Quill award for her story on skin cancer victim Clare Oliver.
After Clare’s story aired on the 7:30 Report it was picked up by other networks and quickly took on a life of its own. “It actually changed government rules on solariums all around the country. For me, that’s the story that gave me the most satisfaction in terms of it leading to some sort of meaningful change,” Heather says.
While Ewart was “honored and quite surprised” to win the Gold Quill for her story, she considers it one of the most difficult – yet rewarding – assignments of her career. “I felt so sorry for her and her mother. Clare was determined to get her story out and that made me determined to make sure that it did get out. I was really pleased that I was able to do that for her before she died.” Ewart still stays in touch with Clare’s mother.
Ewart joined the Melbourne Press Club in 2001 after moving back to the city where she had made her start in journalism.
“I think it’s wonderful there is a Melbourne Press Club, and that it makes quite a key impact and gets a lot of great speakers,” Ewart says.
“Coming back to Melbourne after more than a twenty year absence, it was great to reconnect with people I started in the industry with. They were in different jobs from when I started out, so I really enjoyed making those connections again.”