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Converge First Nations Media Conference - group image.

Meeting together, moving in one direction

By Claire Stuchbery (Acting Executive Officer)

Esther and Kim from our Board, Gerry from our Content Grants Advisory Committee as well as Ian and Claire from the CBF Team were proud to attend to Converge earlier this month, a positive event focused on First Nations media.

The conference began with a Welcome to Country from Yuggera people and a rousing speech from ‘Coco’ (Wayne) Wharton who talked about the role of Indigenous media and the factors that unite First Nations peoples – “there’s more that unites us than divides us.” This concept resonated with several references in conversations over the following two days. Delegates enjoyed a visit to BIMA/4AAA on Tuesday evening, including another welcome from the Nunukul Yuggera Yugimbir Nugi Aboriginal Dance Troupe. This social event gave people an opportunity to catch up before getting down to business on Wednesday morning.

IRCA presented their progress as a peak body and Ryan Bulman, First Assistant Secretary from the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, advised of the outcomes of a Social Return on Investment Study, undertaken by Social Ventures Australia. The study was released on Tuesday, finding Indigenous media returns $2.87 in value for every $1 of government investment.

A number of industry forums took place including:

  • Promoting the value and importance of our sector: how to position First Nations media in procurement policy and the need to develop a toolkit resource to help organisations better promote their value. David Williams from Gilimbaa spoke about their First Nations creative agency. Jennifer Howard from the CAAMA Board spoke about a successful fundraiser they had recently held which raised $15,000 toward building repairs. Matt Balogh from McNair focused on using research data.
  • Diversifying income: Jodie Bell showcased how Goolarri Media has developed various income streams over the years, including training, skills outsourcing, production and sponsorship.
  • Growing income streams panel discussion: Donna Odegaard from Radio Larrakia spoke about their business development history, Naomi Moran from the Koori Mail spoke about how they may be an income source for radio broadcasting and Lee Hubber spoke about sponsorship opportunities which are looking more promising coming into an election year.  I represented the CBF discussing the possibility of using CBF grants to support the development of new income streams (ie. people and resources required).      

          Panel discussion (credit IRCA)_compressed.png 

  • Creating and sharing great content: this was a discussion of how to make best use of digitisation , including discussion of online media such as Indigenous X, ABC and ICTV.
  • Growing First Nations news and current affairs: this session covered cross-platform news sharing also with involvement from NITV, Koori Mail, NIRS and CAAMA and was facilitated by Chelsea Bond from University Queensland. The Sunrise report advocating for the adoption of Indigenous children recently provided a timely example for why reporting from an Indigenous perspective is so important. 
  • Employment and skills development: Neil Turner from PAKAM spoke about the need to train Indigenous people for management roles, Gerry Lyons spoke about the need for further funding to allow for professional development, Lisa Sweeney spoke about AFTRS role as a transition to commercial media industry jobs, Giordana Caputo spoke about CMTO opportunities, Tanya Denning, Channel Manager at NITV spoke about staff development there and Victor Weetra from Radio Adelaide mentioned his role as a broadcaster at a largely volunteer run station.

Day 2 was much more policy-oriented. It started off with a showcase from Barry Anderson on the development of Radio MAMA in the Mid-West regions of WA then an update by our CEO Ian.

Dot West, Chairperson of IRCA gave an overview of six areas of focus for IRCA over the coming year:

  1. Renewal of government policy to recognise and effectively support First Nations media and broadcasting
  2. Expansion of broadcasting services into unserved areas
  3. Address inadequate funding for broadcasting
  4. Expand sector employment and training
  5. Building news and current affairs capacity
  6. Preserving community media archives.

Throughout the event there were a number of short showcase presentations (10-15 minutes) from stations and from Virtual Songlines (Brett Leavy) talking about things that could be useful for other organisations to learn from. Voting on potential new names for IRCA was also undertaken with the new name being announced as First Nations Media Australia.

Overall Converge was a positive event and a great opportunity to catch up with Indigenous media representatives from all over the country and from a range of mediums, as well as other funding agencies and industry personnel. We look forward to the next First Nations Media Australia gathering in November 2018.