Get news on reconciliation in Australia, ideas for driving reconciliation in schools and early learning services, and highlights of great things happening in schools and early learning services across the country. 

23 Oct 2017

Reconciliation in the Media


Many Australians use the media as a way to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures. The 2016 Australian Reconciliation Barometer found that a large portion of Australians rely on the media as their main source of information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, current affairs and issues, yet few Australians think the stories they hear about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the media portray them positively. The survey found that twice as many Australians say the media is their main source of information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, compared to those who say school education or other research is their main source. The importance of critically engaging with media sources, as well as critically considering how school-based education can be strengthened, thereby becomes apparent.  

With a large audience to draw upon, media outlets, as well as individuals, through social media, have the power to raise awareness and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures. Accordingly, it is important to promote positive stories about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strength, diversity and leadership. It is also “vital that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people see themselves positively reflected on television and in the media”, as recently expressed by NITV Channel Manager Tanya Orman-Denning, in speaking about the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led, and self-determined, media.


Download the 2016 Australia Reconciliation Barometer media and education factsheets, and use the below links and reflective questions to prompt critical discussion about representation and the media.




Dr Evelyn Scott AO leaves behind a monumental legacy


Prominent reconciliation pioneer, rights activist and ‘trailblazer’ Dr Evelyn Scott AO died peacefully surrounded by her family in far north Queensland last month. Reconciliation Australia paid tribute to the immense legacy of Dr Scott, whose fierce yet dignified leadership has been instrumental to the key achievements in Australia’s reconciliation journey to date. Dr Scott was a driver of the successful 1967 referendum, the first General-Secretary of the Indigenous-led Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, and the chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, which – under Dr Scott’s leadership – coordinated the People’s Walk for Reconciliation across the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of Corroboree 2000. More than a quarter of a million people participated in the walk, while thousands more took part in similar events around the country, making it one of the most significant mobilisations of people in Australia’s history. Dr Scott was the first Aboriginal woman to be accorded the honour of a state funeral by the Queensland government, in recognition of more than 50 years of tireless campaigning for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Why is it important to teach about the legacy of figures such as Dr Scott, especially when teaching about reconciliation? How might these legacies positively inspire reconciliation action into the future, at the individual or societal level?




Pretty for an Aboriginal: new podcast hosted by Nakkiah Lui and Miranda Tapsell


BuzzFeed has recently launched Pretty for an Aboriginal – a new podcast hosted by Nakkiah Lui and Miranda Tapsell that’s “set to rock traditional perceptions of Indigenous Australia and challenge rigid mindsets of what women of colour can and cannot do”. Episodes include interviews with rapper, writer, actor and record label owner Adam Briggs, AIME ambassador and star of Orange is the New Black Yael Stone, and American writer and essayist Roxane Gay. Pretty for an Aboriginal “is a new offering for an audience severely underserved in the Australian mainstream — young women (and men) of colour and their allies, who would rather talk about ambition, success and making it to the top than the issues traditionally linked to their race or gender”.


How can Australian mainstream media more effectively represent diversity and difference? How might this positively influence audience attitudes and understanding?




2017 National Indigenous Music Awards


The 2017 National Indigenous Music Awards in Darwin saw veteran country and western singer Troy Cassar-Daley take home the awards for Artist of the Year and A.B. Original winning Song of the Year for January 26a song which represents the annual frustration around Australia Day celebrations. The event also celebrated the life of the late Dr G Yunupingu with a tribute by A.B. Original and the Saltwater Band.


How can the medium of music be used in the classroom to tell stories of strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples? Why is the use of multiple perspectives so important?




Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters Exhibition

A new exhibition at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra explores the epic saga of the Seven Sisters Dreaming across the Martu, Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara lands. Led by an Aboriginal board of curators and utilising state of the art technology, the exhibition has been described as “a breathtaking triumph of 21st century museology” that “sets a new benchmark in presenting Aboriginal art in a museum exhibition”. The exhibition runs until 25 February 2018.


Why is it important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have the opportunity to be actively and meaningfully involved in the representation of their histories and cultures in museums and media?




Clinton Pryor’s Walk for Justice


Over the course of a year, Clinton Pryor recently completed a walk for justice – a 6000km journey from Perth to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra. The aim of the journey was to raise awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, and to “find a new way for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Australia”. Mr Pryor met with Elders and community leaders along the way, and a corroboree was held at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy to celebrate Clinton’s arrival in Canberra. Clinton’s Walk for Justice made international headlines – he told the New York Times that the walk was “about telling everyone to get back up and keep fighting”.


What are some of the core issues that Clinton Pryor aimed to shed light on in his Walk for Justice? Why is it important to celebrate acts of strength and resilience, both in-person and in the media?




Interested in engaging with reconciliation in the media on a regular basis? Consider taking a look at the Media Portfolio professional learning resource on the Narragunnawali platform.