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March 20, 2008

SBS’s ’skewed’ reporting of government intervention in Aboriginal communities

Filed under: Uncategorized — news_editor @ 3:01 am

Press release from Aboriginal Rights Coalition:

Media release 19/3/08 – for immediate release

SBS ‘Insight’ programme silences Aboriginal dissent

Last night, March 18, the SBS Insight programme entitled ‘Are They
Safer’, about the Northern Territory intervention, went to air. Several
Aboriginal representatives from affected communities in the NT have
expressed dissatisfaction with selection process for the show and the
way that dialogue was framed by the programme.

Initially, Insight planned to film in Alice Springs. Following
arrangements being made by people from numerous ‘prescribed’ areas to
attend the show, the producers moved filming to Sydney.

After doing extensive interviews with Barbara and Walter Shaw from Mt
Nancy town camp, Insight refused to guarantee them a spot on the
program. Only after consistent lobbying by supporters was Barbara
allowed to attend, but Walter was told there was no space.

In contrast, four representatives were selected from Hermannsberg
community near Alice Springs. Hermannsberg is unique in that, unlike
many of the ‘prescribed’ communities, it supports the intervention. It
is also one of the few NT communities to support the Country Liberal
Party, whereas the overwhelming majority of Aboriginal people in the
NT voted Labor in the last election.

“I think it was unfair that there wasn’t a lot of people from the
communities and they just had hand-picked people,” said Barbara Shaw ,
who appeared on the programme. “I just didn’t agree with the show or
the way they went about it.”

Barbara Shaw also disputed the representativeness of the selected
Aboriginal speakers, saying that there is an issue amongst Aboriginal
people of urban Aboriginal people speaking for those from remote
communities. “I get permission from the remote communities to talk on
their behalf,” she said.

In contrast to the views of a “former resident of Yuendumu” who spoke
in favour of the intervention, the Yuendumu community have been united
in vehement opposition. The president of the Community Council Harry
Nelson led a delegation from Yuendumu to protest in Canberra on
February 12, calling for repeal of the Emergency Response legislation.

“Whilst we welcome Insight looking at the issue, the basis on which
they pursued the issue was skewed in favour of the intervention,” said
Greg Eatock of the National Aboriginal Alliance and the Aboriginal
Rights Coalition, who also appeared on the programme.

“There were no questions from the presenter about many of the punitive
aspects of the intervention which affected people have described as
racist, such as compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land and the
installation of ‘business managers’ with extraordinary powers”.

Five other Aboriginal members of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition were
told they would be allowed to appear in the audience of the programme,
but had the invitations withdrawn the night before filming.

The Aboriginal Rights Coalition is continuing to call for the repeal
of the legislation. The new paternalism seen through intervention
measures can’t replace the desperate need for funding of Aboriginal
services on the ground. ARC is working with affected communities to
organise a national day of action on June 21.

For more info contact:

Barbara Shaw 0401291166
Greg Eatock 0432050240


For supporters:

We would like to encourage you to share your views with SBS. You can
ring toll Free 1800 500 727 (Nationwide) or send your comments to:

Director Content (Television and Online)
SBS, Locked Bag 028
Crows Nest, NSW 1585

or fax (02) 9430 3047

The ‘Insight’ website has a comments page at:

Many thanks,
Aboriginal Rights Coalition

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