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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

In 2019-20, SBS engaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and continued in its aim of being the premier broadcaster of Indigenous content in Australia, while contributing to the growth of the First Nations production and media workforce. In 2019, SBS delivered the first year of a NAIDOC partnership with the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the National NAIDOC Committee, and continued preparations for a delayed NAIDOC Week in 2020 due to COVID-19.

NAIDOC Week 2019

NAIDOC Week, celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, is a significant calendar event for all Australians with strong connection to the SBS Charter.

Through agreement with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the National NAIDOC Committee, SBS is the official media and education partner of NAIDOC Week from 2019-2021.

SBS was successful in 2019 in positioning the network as the home of NAIDOC with a cross-network strategy to reach audiences across all platforms. The centrepiece of the NAIDOC Week offering was the exclusive live broadcast from Canberra of the National NAIDOC Awards on NITV, Facebook and SBS On Demand as part of a comprehensive multi-platform live event for the network.

Leading up to and during NAIDOC Week, SBS delivered engaging opportunities for audiences to consume NAIDOC-related content. Programming highlights included SBS’s Insight which featured an all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person panel and audience, hosted by NITV journalist Rachael Hocking, SBS-commissioned drama Robbie Hood which premiered on SBS VICELAND and SBS On Demand to significant critical acclaim, and the simulcast premiere of Gurrumul on both SBS and NITV.

SBS audience analysis saw NAIDOC reflected strongly across the network, increasing both an awareness of the week, and familiarity and association between NAIDOC and SBS. SBS’s involvement in NAIDOC Week 2019 was seen by audiences as having a very strong impact on the “promotion of cultural diversity” as well as “driving social cohesion”.

NAIDOC Week in 2020 was postponed due to COVID-19 but SBS will continue its commitment to the celebration of First Nations culture at is rescheduled date in November 2020.

Multicultural voices in NITV’s Sunrise Ceremony

On January 26 2020, SBS and NITV invited three multicultural community leaders – Dr Casta Tungaraza, President of African Women’s Council of Australia, Sheikh Wesam Charkawi, Founder of Abu Hanifa Institute and Ngọc-Tuấn Hoàng, musician, writer and human rights activist – to participate in NITV’s Sunrise Ceremony. Guests were invited to share their perspectives on the significance of January 26 for their communities, bringing multicultural voices to the broadcast for the first time, reflecting on the similarities between Indigenous and multicultural experiences and encouraging reconciliation between recent and the oldest Australians.


SBS Reconciliation Action Plan

SBS’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) supports SBS’s business plan, with practical actions that help to facilitate understanding, promote meaningful engagement, increase equality, and develop sustainable employment and business opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community.

SBS published its first RAP in 2009 as a demonstration of a commitment to increasing awareness of the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to Australian society, and to drive SBS’s contribution to reconciliation.

SBS is currently in consultation and drafting Reconciliation Action Plan 5.

Reconciliation Week 2020 – In This Together (27 May – 3 June)

In June 2020, Reconciliation Week was celebrated entirely online, due to COVID-19. SBS and NITV delivered a suite of content to mark the week.

Beyond its network programming, SBS celebrated and supported National Reconciliation Week through several activities, including partnering with FECCA to support their Reconciliation Week webinar, with SBS World News presenter Anton Enus moderating a conversation about reconciliation between multicultural communities and Australia’s First Nations peoples. The virtual panel included Karen Mundine from Reconciliation Australia, Senator Pat Dodson and young multicultural activist Shahnoor Shah from FECCA.

As part of SBS’s broader reconciliation response, NITV continued to deliver important news and programming for audiences, particularly in the wake of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, providing a unique and vital perspective for all Australians. See Black Lives Matter.

Media Reconciliation Industry Network Group (MediaRING)

Collaborating with other broadcasters, production companies, creative businesses and screen agencies, SBS continues to provide support MediaRING, an organisation that aims to empower the media industry to increase the presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the sector.

Reconciliation Film Club

SBS helps audiences celebrate Reconciliation Week, and other events in the national calendar, through the Reconciliation Film Club. Developed in partnership between SBS, NITV and Reconciliation Australia, the Film Club curates distinctive, celebrated content from NITV, and is designed to facilitate group viewing – in workplaces, education settings, and businesses, and is an opportunity to engage staff actively in their organisation’s RAP plan.

While physical screenings were not possible in early 2020, virtual screenings were encouraged. SBS received over 120 requests for screenings in the lead up to and during National Reconciliation Week 2020 to develop deeper understandings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives during this important week. This resulted in over $27,000 raised which went directly into the hands of independent producers and Indigenous filmmakers.

This year, the Film Club was extended to include its first material from NITV’s Indigenous News and Current Affairs program, Living Black, with a special Reconciliation Week episode with Senator Patrick Dodson.

AusSMC Indigenous Media Mentoring Program 2020

Every two years SBS and NITV host the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) Indigenous Media Mentoring Program at SBS Artarmon. The program brings together up to 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scientists and researchers for media training, funded by AusSMC. Workshops include using voice, understanding media and radio and television interviews, held across two days.

This year’s program, which was delivered in February 2020, was a great success and continues to be a useful support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander science professionals to raise the profile of their work and increase representation in the sector.

Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures

SBS continued its presence at the annual Garma Festival, held in north-east Arnhem Land in August 2019, with NITV an official media supporter. A team reported from the event with a focus on news and current affairs, producing six hours of content for use across platforms.

First Nations Media Australia, Remote Indigenous Media Festival

First Nations Media Australia (FNMA) is the peak body for First Nations media, connecting approximately 40 Indigenous media organisations and many practioners across the country. SBS, including NITV, has had a partnership with FNMA for a number of years.

SBS, including NITV, has had a partnership with FNMA for a number of years and attends FNMA events and conferences. Their biennial Remote Indigenous Media Festival was held on Waiben (Thursday Island), in 2019, bringing together over 150 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media professionals to take part in workshops, stakeholder conversations and celebrations of the remote media community.

Three SBS and NITV staff attended and were joined each day by the local Thursday Island community who showcased their content and culture. The Festival intends to create more opportunities for collaboration between broadcasters, media and the communications sector.

Little J and Big Cuz season 2 - Community Screening

In February 2020, SBS welcomed more than 40 teachers and students to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, in Sydney’s Ultimo, for a special preview screening of two episodes of Little J and Big Cuz.

Hosted by actor Aaron Fa’aoso, voice of the character ‘Old Dog’, the students enjoyed being the first audience for the episodes, which were screened pre-broadcast. The schools in attendance were Jarjums (in Redfern), Gawura (in the Sydney CBD), and International Grammar School (Ultimo).