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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

In 2018-19, SBS continued its commitment to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with the aim of being the premier broadcaster of Indigenous content in Australia, and contributing to the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander production and media workforce. As a key part of this commitment to growing the power of Indigenous media within the mainstream media sector, SBS secured a three-year partnership with the National NAIDOC Committee.


A photo of Anita Heiss, Kristy Dickinson and Mikaela Jade holding microphones and speaking on a panel as guests at SBS's NAIDOC Week staff event.
NAIDOC Week staff event

Annual NAIDOC Week celebrations explore the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples each July.

To mark NAIDOC Week 2018, SBS broadcast the National NAIDOC Awards live on NITV and streamed via Facebook Live. Themed content and activations ran across SBS network channels and platforms to reinforce SBS’s commitment to increasing awareness and understanding of the history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (for more information see the NITV section).

In June 2019, SBS secured a three-year agreement with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and National NAIDOC Committee to become the National NAIDOC Principal Media Partner for the national NAIDOC Awards from 2019 to 2021. As part of this new partnership, SBS also became the official Education Partner of NAIDOC Week. SBS Learn created an Indigenous-led digital and print resource for both primary and secondary schools which launched in Term 2, ahead of NAIDOC Week (7 – 14 July 2019).

“For me education is central to all we do in ensuring truth telling and making sure all people have the real facts about Aboriginal peoples’ cultures and histories of contact in Australia.”
– National NAIDOC Committee member, Dr Lynette Riley

SBS Reconciliation Action Plan

SBS’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) aims to provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the community and to promote greater understanding amongst all Australians.

SBS’s fourth RAP term ended in 2018. Work continues on the development of the fifth RAP. In developing the SBS RAP 5, SBS partnered with Reconciliation Australia to participate in a national survey that aimed to understand how reconciliation efforts could be improved for the benefit of all Australians.

In 2018-19, SBS launched its Indigenous Employment Strategy, focused on the development and ongoing management of an engaged pool of skilled Indigenous talent.

SBS partnered with Career Trackers to offer two paid summer intern placements to Indigenous university students within SBS’s Technology and Marketing teams. Work with Indigenous organisation BlackCard has assisted in the development of a cultural capability training offering which launched in June 2019.

SBS continued promoting First Australian businesses, while applying best practice procurement processes when engaging and including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses in tenders for general operational equipment. The SBS RAP updated its Supply Nation procurement initiatives to support accredited First Nation suppliers for catering, gifts, computer accessories and stationery.

In 2018-19, SBS employees were engaged in a number of curated events to celebrate significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dates; including NAIDOC Week (8-15 July), National Sorry Day (26 May) and National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June).

  • NAIDOC Week (8-15 July) celebrations in 2018 followed the theme: Because of Her We Can. In a special event, SBS employees heard from NITV Channel Manager, Tanya Orman, host of NITV’s Living Black, Karla Grant, and NITV’s Senior Digital Editor, Julie Nimmo, in a panel discussion celebrating the experiences and leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  • To mark Sorry Day on 26 May, SBS distributed hibiscus flower pins to staff, from the Kimberley Stolen Generation Alliance. The flower represents the native hibiscus which survives in harsh conditions and is a symbol of strength and resilience. The purple colour symbolises healing. This symbol of compassion, understanding and moving forward can be worn by everyone on May 26 to commemorate Sorry Day.
  • National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) activity centred on the theme: Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage. Events in SBS’s Sydney and Melbourne offices saw CEO of Culture is Life, Belinda Duarte and the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner, Jill Gallagher AO, present inspiring talks on the theme of Truth, Courage and Reconciliation.

Media Reconciliation Industry Network Group (MediaRING)

Working with representatives from other broadcasters, production companies, creative businesses and screen agencies, SBS continues to provide leadership in the media industry through its support of MediaRING, an organisation which aims to empower the media industry to increase the presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the sector.

In 2018 NITV and Screen Queensland created the first MediaRING Indigenous Fellowship – an opportunity for an emerging Queensland-based Indigenous screen practitioner to work within both organisations for a period of six months each.

In 2019 MediaRING marked Reconciliation Week with an event at Twitter’s offices, which was opened by Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason, hosted by the Channel Nine Today Show’s Brooke Boney, and featured a panel of leading experts including Dr Chelsea Bond, Elaine Crombie and Wesley Enoch.

Other highlights for 2018-19 include:

  • NITV once again supported the Spirit Initiative, an initiative which aids the professional development of an emerging filmmaker from a remote community.
  • SBS proudly supported the launch of the Lowitja Institute’s Close the Gap report “Our Choices, Our Voices” in February 2019. SBS continues to work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sector to highlight strength-based and community-led initiatives.
  • The Reconciliation Film Club remained an important platform for organisations to host award-winning films as part of their Reconciliation Action Plans, with five NITV titles added for screenings including Warwick Thornton’s We Don’t Need A Map.