Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- Journalist and Print Journalist
Shirley Stott Despoja was the first woman to be employed in the general news room at the Adelaide Advertiser. She was that paper's first ever Arts Editor, appointed at a time when the arts were of enormous poilitical and economic significance in South Australia. She brought the arts to the front pages of the newspaper in a manner that had not been achieved before.
In 2010, Shirley Stott Despoja was the inaugural winner of the Mary MacKillop Award at the twentieth annual Catholic Archbishop's Media Citations. She was nominated for her regular column, The Third Age, published in The Adelaide Review.
According to Archbishop Wilson who presented the award, it was a pleasure to honour such an esteemed writer and champion of equality and social justice.
"Mary MacKillop herself was a great correspondent and also challenged the social norms of the day," he said.
"Ms Stott Despoja's efforts to break the stereotypes of ageing and challenge her peers to be feisty and opinionated would undoubtedly be applauded by Mary."
Stott Despoja also won a United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Award in 2010 for the same column, for excellence in the promotion of positive images of the older person.
Shirley Stott Despoja was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the May 2013 South Australian Media Awards, honoured by her peers for an outstanding contribution to the South Australian media. In 2017 she was awarded on Australia Day with an OAM, 'for services as a journalist to print media', a citation to bury the lede, if ever there was one.
Shirley Stott Despoja is variously described as 'an inspiration', 'a pioneer', 'gutsy', 'an arts editor who changed the city' (Adelaide) and 'a great lady of a great age of print'. But above all, Stott Despoja is best known as a journalist for being 'principled'.