13 April 2010

SBS News Head Paul Cutler will provide a keynote address at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Indigenous Voice Closing the Gap Forum on May 1 at The University of Queensland in Brisbane.

Mr Cutler said SBS had specific obligations in its charter relating to the communication needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but meeting these needs was at times challenging.

"Perhaps the biggest challenge in news and current affairs is finding Indigenous journalists,” he said.

“To this end, two years ago we introduced a cadetship exclusively for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. But recruitment hasn't been easy as the pool of available talent isn't large."

Mr Cutler said the media and education sector need to work more closer together to meet this challenge. He believes the Indigenous Voice Project is exactly the sort of initiative the Australian media scene desperately needs at a time of great change in the communication industry.

"How people access news is changing dramatically and in this digital age, with the emergence of the so-called social media, it is vitally important that the Indigenous community harness these technology changes for their greater good," he said.

SBS Indigenous Radio’s Michelle Lovegrove will also present at the Forum with Susan Moylan-Coombs from ABC’s Message Stick program, Antonia Gonzales from National Native News and Canadian award-winning journalist Duncan McCue from CBC.

Conference Convenor, UQ's Associate Professor Martin Hadlow of the School of Journalism and Communication said the Forum was a critically important part of the three-day World Press Freedom Day conference.

“We are delighted that the global UNESCO World Press Freedom Day event is being used as a platform for enabling Indigenous media professionals from all over the world to gather and discuss issues of mutual interest and concern,” he said.

“The forum outcomes can only be positive in further nourishing a respect for cultural and societal values, not to mention identifying the specific needs of indigenous broadcasters and journalists internationally.”

CBC executive Heaton Dyer is also a keynote speaker at the Forum. CBC, SBS and the ABC are all attempting to address the challenge in public broadcasting to increase the number of Indigenous journalists in their organisations.

The Indigenous Voice Project is a joint collaboration with the UQ JAC and the UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Unit headed by Michael Williams to get more Indigenous student graduates.

Industry Project partners include SBS, ABC, NIRS, NITV, National Indigenous Times, National Native News (US), CBC in Canada and 989fm in Brisbane.

Education partners include Triple-A Training, QUT, Griffith, Edith Cowan University and Murdoch University.

The project has new links with Cherbourg, Warwick, the Drumley Walk in Beaudesert and organisations including Australia’s peak Indigenous Media body AICA, IRCA and in Canada SABAR, the (Strategic Alliance of Broadcasters for Aboriginal Reflection.

Project Leader Heather Stewart said the gathering would not have been possible without the sponsorship, particularly from QUT and Griffith universities, and SBS, ABC and CBC public broadcasters involved in the event.

“Further to this the support and guidance from our project partners has been invaluable,” she said.

“This project is a collaboration and crucially relies on Industry, Community and Education sector in-kind input. The Indigenous Voice project relies on this support and that includes Project partners covering their own airfares and expenses to attend.”

For further information about the Indigenous Voice Project and the Closing the Gap Forum contact Project Leader Heather Stewart heather.stewart@uq.edu.au Mobile: 0418 830 938

To register for the World Press Freedom Day Conference:

Indigenous Voice is a project run by The University of Queensland School of Journalism and Communication to develop cross cultural awareness, investigate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander journalism and communication student intake, retention and graduate outcomes and develop resources for journalism students about covering Indigenous issues under the guidance of the UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit and Education and Industry Media partners. More information can be found online at www.indigenousvoice.com.au

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