The Media ring and the National Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy



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The Media RING and the National Anti-Racism

Partnership and Strategy

The Media RING (Reconciliation Industry Network Group) welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the National Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy.

Through its activities, the Media RING is committed to the key objectives of the Strategy, particularly Objective 1: Create awareness of racism and how it affects individuals and the broader community; and Objective 2: Identify, promote and build on good practice initiatives to prevent and reduce racism.

Introduction : The Media RING


The Media Reconciliation Industry Network Group (Media RING) was initiated by FOXTEL in 2008. FOXTEL identified in its inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan that a key strategy to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in the media was to bring the industry together to partner and leverage individual activities, experiences and knowledge.
The Media RING aims to drive practical measures that support and promote reconciliation and combat racism in the media sector and engage Australians in reconciliation through respect and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
The group encompasses broadcasters, government media agencies (both state and federal), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, trade associations and guilds, media buyers and newspaper/new media groups. The members of the Media RING meet quarterly to plan and analyze practical goals and actions to drive real opportunities in the media industry.

Current members include the ABC, Australian News Channel, Australian Writers’ Guild, AFTRS, ASTRA, Aurora Community Channel, AUSTAR, BBC Worldwide, Broadcast Australia, CAAMA, Entertainment Personnel, Eora College, Fairfax Media, Film Victoria, FOXTEL, Gadigal Information Service Aboriginal Corporation, Information and Cultural Exchange, NITV, Metro Screen, Mitchell and Partners, Museums and Galleries NSW, News Limited, NFSA, Nine Entertainment, Northern Territory Film Office, Reconciliation Australia, Screen ACT, Screen Australia, Screen NSW, Screen Tasmania, ScreenWest, Screen Producers Association Australia, South Australian Film Corporation, The City of Sydney, Television Sydney and Vibe Australia. Reconciliation Australia has been a supportive member since inception.


In essence the Media RING is about harnessing the ample goodwill, knowledge and experience in the media industry and turning that into practical measures that can deliver real outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The members achieve this through developing and enhancing career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, sharing resources and providing leadership.


The RING meets regularly to inform members of key issues facing Indigenous Australians, has a dedicated website, and is soon to launch its Employment Strategy.


The Big Picture: Racism, the Media, and Closing the Gap

The Media RING believes that the media can play an important role in Closing the Gap in the key goal areas – particularly in education and employment. Through changing Australians attitudes and beliefs about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the media can fight racism and improve outcomes across all areas of daily life.


The media can also motivate and inspire. Proper representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in print and on screen is vital for all Australians to expand their understanding of the relevant issues. This deeper understanding leads to greater involvement and commitment to Closing the Gap.
In 1972 Australia became a signatory to International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and therefore has an obligation to comply with the relevant articles, in particular, to “enable the conditions whereby everyone may enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights, as well as their civil and political rights”.1
The Covenant provides us with the international policy framework to advance social and economic inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to dismantle the specific social and economic barriers faced by Australia’s First Nation Peoples.
In 2008, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Health Minister Nicola Roxon signed the Closing the Gap statement of intent. In signing the statement of intent the Australian Government committed to a sound, evidence-based path to achieve health equality, a path supported by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector. The specific targets are:

  • Close the life-expectancy gap within a generation

  • Halve the gap in mortality rates for children under five within a decade

  • Ensure access to early childhood education for all four year olds in remote communities within five years

  • Halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements for children within a decade

  • Halve the gap for students in Year 12 (or equivalent) attainment rates by 2020

  • Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade

Closing the Gap requires commitment from not only state and federal governments but also from the public, private and community sectors if the targets are to be met.
As a practical example of the challenge ahead, 100,000 additional jobs need to be created by 2018 if we are to Close the Gap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment.2

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and the Media


In early 2011 the federal government released the report “2010 Review of Australian Government Investment in the Indigenous Broadcasting and Media Sector” which identified the many ways in which the media sector can have a positive impact on the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, as follows: 3

  • Engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the broader economy through greater access to information;

  • Enhance self-esteem, sense of identity, sense of community, social inclusion and pride in communities;

  • Provide positive role models to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander young people;

  • Provide positive representations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

  • Provide training and employment opportunities, and

  • Be a vehicle for maintenance and transmission of language and culture.4

The review concluded that media managed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a powerful tool that needs to be more effectively harnessed if it is to help realise broader policy objectives, such as Closing the Gap. It highlighted the importance of empowering and building the capacity of the Indigenous media sector as well as the value of providing employment opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the mainstream media.


In recent years productions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander filmmakers have captured the hearts and minds of audiences all around the world and played a part in the broader Australian economic and cultural development of the screen industry. In 2010, Rachel Perkins’ Bran Nue Dae took more than $7 million at the Australian box office and in 2009 Warwick Thornton won the Cannes Camera d’Or for Samson & Delilah. Prime-time television programs such as First Australians, RAN and The Circuit have won numerous national and international awards.5 Similarly there has been notable growth in journalism and print media, with the launch of Indigenous businesses such as The Vibe and The Tracker and the continued growth of Koori Mail and National Indigenous Times.
Despite these successes, the reality is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment behind the screen and faces on screen are still not representative of the diversity and size of the Indigenous population. Representation, particularly in news and current affairs, does not reflect the full diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their cultures and their experiences.
It is telling that Reconciliation Australia’s “Barometer” identifies that only 9% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents and 16% of non-Indigenous respondents agree that the media provides a balanced view of Indigenous Australia. The survey also identifies that the general community’s attitudes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people come from secondary sources like the media, rather than from personal experience.6
The Indigenous Broadcasting and Media Review outlined above stated that the entire media sector can and should do better in terms of the representation, media training, and offers of ongoing employment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In March 2011, the Media RING (Reconciliation Industry Network Group) was contracted by the Department of Education, Employment and Work Relations (DEEWR) to develop a three-year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy.

 

The Media RING values the rich contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures make to the diversity of the media industry and the broader Australian community.


The Media RING members are committed to providing meaningful training and support that is appropriate to the current, and developing needs of their various organisations, and is confident the projects and programs within the strategy will deliver real social and economic change for both current and future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees in the media industry. Changing the media from within will have a significant impact on the portrayal of Indigenous people in the media, and will provide a significant contribution to the fight against racism.

 

Screen Australia, as the Federal Government’s primary funding agency for the Australian screen production industry, and a member of Media RING, will undertake the practical implementation of the Strategy. It will enter an agreement with DEEWR to act as host agency for the Strategy in close liaison with Media RING.


The Strategy will be launched in June-July 2012.

Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property


It is important to include mention of Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property (ICIP) its place in the media industry, and the importance of accurate cultural representation.
Media RING supports proper protocols in relation to Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property when producing any media content and that it is fundamental to establish the two key principles for understanding protocols, which are:


  • Respect for Indigenous culture and heritage, including recognition of Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property rights, maintenance of cultural integrity and respect for beliefs; and

  • Respect for Indigenous individuals and communities. 7

Published in 2009, “Pathways to Protocols” establishes protocols within the screen sector. Produced by the Indigenous department of Screen Australia, and written by Indigenous lawyer Terry Janke, it is an invaluable guide to appropriate practice when dealing with Indigenous content of any nature.


In addition the Arts Law Centre of Australia has identified a set of ICIP rights:


  • Right to ensure that traditional laws and customary obligations are respected;

  • Right to be paid for use of your ICIP;

  • Right to full and proper attribution or naming of the community connected with the work;

  • Right to protect traditional knowledge and sacred cultural material;

  • Right to prevent insulting, offensive and misleading uses of ICIP in all media;

  • Right to control the recording of cultural customs and expressions, and language which may be essential to cultural identity; knowledge, skill and teaching about indigenous culture.8

The importance of appropriate capturing of language, culture and identity through acknowledgement of ICIP processes cannot be under-estimated.


The greater the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and stories on screen, in radio and in print, the more they will contribute to the use and maintenance of Indigenous language, culture and identity. The greater the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media workers, then the greater the chance there will be people advocating for programming which incorporates and promotes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language, culture and identity.

The Strategy


Framework Principles

The Media RING has adopted the following framework that is socially inclusive and respectful towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, guiding the key focus areas and actions within the strategy.




  • Building Respect: Media RING will celebrate the success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and continue the process of building awareness and understanding throughout the media industry. This will help make our businesses a place where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel welcome and provide stronger connections between the media industry and community in which we operate. This principle was the foundation on which the projects and programs within the strategy were formed and developed though a consultation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander key stakeholder, communities and individuals.




  • Building Relationships: Media RING will deepen our connection between the media industry and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities so we better understand the needs and ambitions of our local communities. We will also strengthen our internal network of people committed to celebrating Aboriginal culture and addressing Aboriginal disadvantage.




  • Creating Opportunities: Media RING will increase representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the media industry by creating appropriate training and employment pathways, both behind and in front of the camera. We aim to provide training and career opportunities for regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are interested in a career in the media, including convergent and new media platforms.


Conclusion

The Media RING would welcome the opportunity to contribute further to the Anti-Racism Partnership, particularly in the areas of media.


Sincerely

Susanne Larson

Chair, Media RING

Further Information


For more information, the Media RING website provides news, opportunities, events, articles and resources relevant to Indigenous screen and media practitioners so please visit the site and subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter.

Website: www.mediaring.org.au



Email: info@mediaring.org.au
Chair: Susanne Larson

Acknowledgement


We acknowledge elders, past and present, and pay respect to the cultural authority and traditions with which they have gifted this great nation.

1 United Nations (1996), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

2 COAG (2009), Closing the Gap: National Urban and Regional Service Delivery Strategy for Indigenous Australians, p.3.

3 Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, (2011), Review of Australian Government Investment in the Indigenous Broadcasting and Media Sector 2010.

4 Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, (2011), Review of Australian Government Investment in the Indigenous Broadcasting and Media Sector 2010, p.1.

5 Screen Australia, (2010), The Black List, p.3.

6 Reconciliation Australia Barometer Report, (2010), p.40.

7 Terry Jankes, (2009), Pathways to Protocols, p.11.

8 Arts Law Centre (2009), Submission to the National Consultation on Human Rights, p.6.


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