Webinar on improved reporting on violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
Karina Hogan - Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. I would first like to begin by acknowledging where I'm standing today. I’m in Aotearoa, in Wellington. It's so lovely to be joining you. I'd like to also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which you are joining me from across Australia. I just saw there was someone coming in from Aotearoa as well. It's great to be here with you to speak about improving media reporting to prevent violence and sexual harassment against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This topic is an incredibly important one to me and I think quite often such a difficult conversation to be having. It's something that's impacted me, my family and my community incredibly. And as a journalist working both at the ABC, also on the board of the Children's Hospital and at the Aboriginal Medical Service, this is something that I think is incredibly important to be speaking about, to be telling the stories respectfully and today we're going to have an opportunity to do that. But first, I would like to introduce Aunty Di, who will do the Acknowledgment to Country.
Aunty Diane Kerr - Thank you very much. I honour my ancestors and my Elders, and I pay homage to all the sacred grounds that we’re on, Elders of different nations, any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, any First Nations people from across the waters, and I acknowledge you all and I pay my respects to your ancestors, Elders and families. This topic is really close to my heart because I worry about our women in our community and the violence that a lot of them are facing. And I'm glad that you're discussing this with the media because sometimes with the media something might happen to an Aboriginal woman, it's reported, and then it's lost. But if it happens to a non-Indigenous person, it seems to continue until they can get an answer. And I feel really sad that sometimes people tend to use a bit of racism or look at us as second-class citizen. So, I hope, I hope that you come out with some answers today and people will understand about us and our protocols and our women. Our women are strong and carry our families and carry a lot of trauma and they need to be looked after. And we all need to look after each other. We all need to share our stories about who we are and where we come from. I firmly believe if we do share our stories, that we can understand each other, that we can live in harmony. When we live in harmony, we eradicate racism and stigma and we pave the way for our younger ones. They can live in peace and walk our streets without fear of any harm. I offer you all my hand in friendship so that we can journey together. May Bunjil, my creator, surround you all and give you strength and resilience. Wominjeka Wurundjeri Balluk yearmenn koondee bik That means “Welcome to Wurundjeri country”. For those of you that aren’t on Wurundjeri country I can’t welcome you to the country, you’ll have to acknowledge the country and hope that their ancestors look after you as well. And I say, noon gudgin. That means “Thank you”. Thank you for allowing me to have a voice today and to be able to welcome you and have a wonderful meeting, noon gudgin, thank you.
Karina Hogan - Thank you, Aunty Di and I would just like to acknowledge the part that our Elders play in this important conversation. If not for them, I would not be sitting here today having this conversation with you. So, I'd like to acknowledge those Elders. And so today we will be discussing how to improve media reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to address the drivers of violence. The session will support media professionals to contribute to a better understanding of and pride in rich and vibrant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. All journalists and media professionals have a part to play in challenging the condoning of violence and sexual harassment against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. By challenging this indifference and disrespect towards Indigenous peoples and cultures and addressing racist and sexist attitudes and social norms in their work. I'm really pleased and honoured to be joined by Professor Kyllie Cripps, who is an incredible researcher and Aboriginal woman, and Dan Bourchier who is an amazing reporter and lead reporter of The Voice to Parliament. I'd like to first begin by acknowledging the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have lost their lives to violence. It pains me to know that Aboriginal women are 27 times more likely to present at a hospital for a violent-related injury. I would also like to acknowledge the incredible work that you've done, Professor Cripps, with the release of your research recently and the paper that you did for The Conversation around the covering of of violence against Aboriginal women and also missing and murdered Aboriginal women. 151 black women have passed away and lost their lives since the year 2000, and I'm fortunate enough to be sitting here today and to say that I survived my violent situation, and I could have very well been one of those women. So in saying that, I also want to acknowledge that this is a very triggering conversation and so please do not hesitate to reach out. I'm very fortunate that throughout my journey, I've reached out and I've leant on many services, including my local Aboriginal Medical Service, I’ve used 1800RESPECT, 13YARN, and I've also surrounded myself with amazing people, including Dan and Kyllie. So, in kicking off the conversation, I would like to point straight to your research, Professor Kyllie, and within your research you speak heavily of media conventions that contribute to, to poor reporting practice.
Prof. Kyllie Cripps - Thank you. So I think, you know, this is an important question. Over the course of doing research in this space, I've looked at a number of cases. So, reflecting on a paper from a couple of years ago now looking at the Lynette Daley case and also the case of Cindy Gladue in Canada, both of those cases were very similar and they were sexual homicides in Australia and in Canada. When I looked at that particular, those particular cases, a colleague at University of Sydney, referred me to Duke’s news values and asked me to appreciate the context of how news is produced. And so I looked at those, you know, the importance of thresholds, novelty predictability, proximity, risk, sex, graphic imagery and violence. And it was stunning to me to actually look at all of the news articles in relationship to those cases and look at specifically how those women were framed according to those news values. And, you know, what ultimately that meant in terms of what it meant, in terms of the way in which the crimes were presented, in terms of diminishing the value or the seriousness of those crimes. But more than that, it spoke to the diminishing value of those women's lives. And the importance of this conversation is very much about appreciating that these women were loved by their families, they were mums, these two women were mums and you wouldn't have caught that from the headlines that were in the newspaper about these two women. You know, the headlines read, ‘Rough sex death’, ‘Beach sex death’, ‘Mum of seven died after a wild drunken sex session’, ‘Review for sex death case’. You know, it doesn't talk to, that this was a sexual homicide, a violent sexual homicide at that, for both of these women. And so there's a real significant conversation to be had in the way in which we framed and diminished the value of these women in the media. I'll also draw your attention to another case that has attracted media attention, and that's Stacey Thorne's case in Western Australia. Now, Hannah McGlade has done a lot of work in this case around the legal advocacy in this case. And she alerted me also to the issues around the problematic media on this case. And having pulled all the media articles on this case as well. What I was horrified by, again, was that you didn't get a perception of who Stacey Thorne was. That she, again, was a pregnant woman, Aboriginal woman who was loved by her family. She was a woman that was also loved by her community. She was a teacher's aide, making an impact on all of our young people. But what you saw in the media was an Aboriginal woman who was visited for sex. That was the overarching story that was presented throughout the many criminal presentations to court by the media. And why is that important? Well, when you look at that in the context of our colonial history, we see a pattern of Aboriginal women being used for sex. And so it repeats the colonial story of diminishing the value of Aboriginal women. And so, you know, I bring these stories to you to say Aboriginal women are, as Aunty Di said, we’re strong, we're courageous and we're resilient and we need to be valued for who we are and these women need their stories corrected. I'll leave it at that because I know we've got more conversations.
Karina Hogan - No, that's great. No, that's great, Kyllie. I appreciate that. And Dan, for you, you work across a number of platforms covering some really heavy issues around the Voice and around other really important conversations, such as violence against Aboriginal women. In fact, on Tuesday night, Kyllie Cripps, Professor Kyllie Cripps rather, will be on The Drum. Dan, when you are considering what you are going to bring to light in whether it is a panel speaking about violence against Aboriginal women, I know that, I know personally that you are a very considered man. As an Aboriginal man and as a reporter, what are some of the things, that you, that run through your head and that, that you, that you lean on in order to bring a story to light, you know, such as a story like Stacey Thorne.
Dan Bourchier - Thanks Karina, and can I acknowledge your work and how your advocacy in the media and also thankful to see Kyllie. And I just want to pick up on something that Aunty Diane said about sharing our stories and leaving behind the tropes really, that we have seen in the media. And so, so much of my perspective around reporting, and I have to say that when I was first asked to be on this panel, my initial response was to say “no”, because I didn't want to take the seat of a woman and I didn't feel like I had anything to contribute. It was only when speaking with the team from Our Watch and Professor Cripps and Karina that they made it clear that they thought the perspective that I had was important to this. So, I just want to make that point at the outset because I think it's so important to be really upfront about how we have these conversations at first instance, and that's something that I have made clear in my career. I've said “no” to doing panels and big facilitation events if there aren't women on the panels, and particularly if it's about a group of people, if they're not central to that conversation, “not about us without us” is key. And I think that's what I always come back to. And I think about, if we're having a big conversation, who's at the table and how do we ensure that it’s not a trope or a voyeuristic view, but really creating that space and hopefully that cultural safety in that room, in that studio, at that moment to be able to have that conversation and to allow my guests to fully articulate what they're wanting to say, and so, for me, it's often or always about the deep listening and thinking and understanding and being really considered in the way that I frame questions to not put people on the spot in those circumstances, but to give them the space to unlock their own story. And so I think that the more that we do that and I have to admit that I don't always get it right, it is a work in progress, but that's certainly the aim and I guess from my upbringing in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory is that sadly I've been surrounded by violence for much of my life. And as a young reporter, some of the first cases or big stories I covered were in courts and were about violence. And I was thinking this morning about two instances, two murders that really rocked me. One was in Alice Springs last year. It was A.K., the young mum and her baby was also killed and that through kinship connections, I had a family connection to to that family and it horrified me the way the media, generally speaking, nationally, didn't see this as a priority, that it was a throwaway line and, and the experience of her entire life and the horror by which she died was seemed to be, in a way, airbrushed. And I've thought about that in some of my other reporting where I’ve been in the Northern Territory, where the Supreme Court has opened itself up to cameras because the Justices have thought it's so important to shine that enormous spotlight on the horrors that they cover or really making judgments upon. And I found an article by Matt Cunningham, a friend of mine, a journalist in the Northern Territory, where he was writing about Marcia Jones and he said, “you know, this should have stopped the nation... how that lady was treated. And yet, there was nothing. There were no vigils, there was no reaction. There was no call for, call for change”. And he was really making the point that if you, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman and you are murdered or terribly abused, it doesn't get the same coverage and the same treatment that it does, if it was a white woman and he was making the point that there is a real structural deficit within our media right across the board. That means that deaths are treated differently. And I think that that's such a shocking indictment on our industry. And Karina, you and I have talked a lot about this, and I think it's something that we would love to change tomorrow. But, but sadly change is really tough. And I think a big part of it is us getting called out when we don't get it right.
Karina Hogan - And I'd like to speak to that, Dan. Yeah, we had spoken quite a lot about it. I think, you know, going into a newsroom and quite often being the only Indigenous person in that newsroom and attempting to push through topics such as this or issues around black deaths in custody or issues alike and being met with, you know, either quietness or a lack of wanting to inquire or wanting to really dig deep into those stories. Dan, what do you think it is that is stopping our newsrooms from wanting to delve into these issues that, let’s face it are a reflection of our community and our society that we live in? What do you think it is?
Dan Bourchier - I think, broadly speaking, it's that our newsrooms generally don't look like the Australian population. That in many newsrooms it is journalists, well-meaning, good journalists that come from a very similar lived experience, and that if there are people that are different, you're often in the minority that, you know, in your newsroom Karina, you’re the only person who is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, I think the only person of any diversity there at all. Now that puts such an inexcusable weight on you to be the person that says, “well, hold on, what about this?” And I know that it can often feel like if you're the one person there always saying that you feel as though you're the, you know, the chink in the armour, that you're the one that is seen as, “Oh, you know, that's just what he would say or she would say”. So, I think that the problem is that we don't have a critical mass of difference and I think that that's on all media organisations. And I think that that's in part the reckoning that the ABC is having right now as a result of Stan Grant being screened off air and the way that that has raised so many other issues and I think it's really important that we lean into that and I made the point on Insiders a couple of weeks ago that rather than pointing the finger, I think we need to be holding up a mirror and that means, Karina, that we need to have difficult conversations and we need to have our own reckoning across the media about who we are and how we operate and why it is that there is not that critical mass of difference in our newsrooms.
Karina Hogan - Yes, Dan, I am. I am the only Aboriginal person in my newsroom and that's met with great frustration. And I want to talk a little bit more on the impacts that this has on journalists a little bit later. But Kyllie, throughout the inquiry that you covered, a coroner whose name is withheld and who conducted 17.9% of the inquests and investigations into the cases in this study reported that in his experience, if it was not institutional racism that was confounding the action of police, it was lazy policing. I want to draw the comparison with journalism. Do you think that the reporting is a reflection of institutional racism or is it just plain and simply lazy journalism? And what do you say to that?
Prof. Kyllie Cripps - I think that, you know, that's a really insightful question Karina, and I think there's some truth in it in the sense that, you know, a lot of the stories that are produced around violence against women, and particularly Aboriginal women, is journalists turning up to the court and, or turning up to the police station to get firsthand accounts from the police and so, they're just taking down the firsthand accounts. They're not interacting with our families, they're not interacting with the witnesses and so you're just taking down verbatim what's happening in a court. And so, you’re not having a conversation to say, to think back. to step back and have that ethics question of, if I'm writing verbatim what the offender or alleged offender thinks of these women, as happened in the Lynette Daley case, where one of the alleged perpetrators or he’s actually an offender now you know, he said, you know, “Boys will be boys and girls will be girls” and that went as a headline in our newsrooms and so I think in those kind of conversations, it's thinking about the ethics of that, you know, are we comfortable with that being a headline on a sexual homicide? You know, yes, that was what was said in the court, right? But is that the headline that we want and is that the value we hold in respect of sexual homicide? Right?
Karina Hogan - Absolutely
Prof. Kyllie Cripps - And I think that that’s where we have, you know, when we write stories, stories as things that the community engages with, right? It talks to their value systems and reinforces their value systems.
Karina Hogan - Yep
Prof. Kyllie Cripps - And so we have to be responsive when we write things about how people are going to be triggered by those values systems. Does that make sense?
Karina Hogan - Absolutely. You know, I think about in Queensland, when a young a young girl sadly took her life and there was a huge campaign around, you know, Do it for Dolly which has continued and turned into a foundation and so it should and in the newsroom I raised the importance of speaking about a suicide that had occurred in a remote community up north, a nine year old girl and I was met with I was met with, “Why do you feel the need to politicise something that is so important and about a young girl who took her own life”. And I remember walking away from that feeling so incredibly crushed and so incredibly confused in a sense, because it felt as though I was in a Twilight Zone. How do you, how do you come to that conclusion when both are human beings? But I think absolutely those institutional tropes that you speak about really do, at the end of the day, play out. I just want to remind people that you can follow the links in the chat and also there is information in there around where you can find help if any of this is in any way triggering for you. Dan, I’d like to speak now about the impacts on journalists as well and how it is that we can create a more, a safer environment for journalists who are reporting on issues particular to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women and violence. What have you seen and what are some of the tools that you have used to bring about safety in your newsroom? You know, as a reporter, as a producer,
Dan Bourchier - I'll get to that question in a moment but I want to say first that I think it's the responsibility of all journalists to understand the impact and the implications of the way that we report and I know that there is so much training that happens within the ABC and others and through the Our Watch program with The Walkley Foundation around giving journalists that training, that experience. I actually think it's incumbent on all journalists to have a proper understanding of the consequences and the complications of the way that we report and the impact that that can have on communities. I know that there will be a lot of journos that would argue vehemently with me about that, that would say we just report the facts and and I think that if we don't understand our own bias and unconscious bias in the way that we use language, then we can inadvertently have big impacts on the way that people have these conversations and the way that stereotypes emerge and the way that that impacts in the way people feel about their portrayal in the media and so I think that that is central to me whenever I'm talking to anyone that is starting to report, my advice is always that you need to be essentially an expert in whatever area you're reporting on or you need to be able to ask someone, the right person the right questions and I’d certainly point to a lot of the work that Professor Cripps has done around having that conversation, because I think that that's really key. In terms of in our newsroom, it's about creating that culture where you can have that conversation. So where I am now working with The Drum it's an incredibly diverse team and there is a meeting every morning, but also there's an open culture where you're constantly having conversations and it's not coming at it from a perspective deficit so if I or anyone asks a question, there's not a judgment attached that you should know that because I think that that can be really unhelpful but more, “Well, let’s actually have a yarn about that” because then we get to hear so many different perspectives and I think when you can create the culture, and this is one that was created before I arrived that is the work of Annie White, my manager, who has worked really hard to make sure that that's a culture that is in place and thriving there, it means that we can have really deep conversations about difficult topics without offending or hurting each other because there's a general goodwill there so I think that that's then incumbent on newsrooms. But of course there are lots of push and pull factors on that, and the fact that many journos would do quick stints in newsrooms and then move on so you've got that great transience now that's not an excuse, that's just the reality and I think that if you don't have everyone with that base knowledge around a specific topic, then those sorts of things can fall through the gaps so I think so much of this comes back to, for me, from my perspective, organisational culture and you asked before about racism and institutional racism and I think that that is very clearly a central issue that's in place in many of our newsrooms. Now, whether that is conscious or unconscious I think depends on the circumstance. But clearly this is an issue that we're grappling with right now.
Karina Hogan - And Dan, when I think about institutional racism and how it's played out here in Australia you know, I think it's fairly evident that the tropes of, what began in this country continue on. Kyllie, you mentioned that the way that Aboriginal women are seen as, you know, just an object or sex slaves, and I think back to the pastoral days when, you know, Aboriginal women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were used and treated so incredibly poorly and I think about leadership and I look at my own organisation that I work in, the ABC, and there has never been a senior executive that has been Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Never. In the whole time that it has existed. There has been one Aboriginal man in 1982 who was appointed to the board and for me that speaks volumes. Kyllie, I wonder how you feel when you delve so deeply into these stories and you become so connected to them and you hear something like that how, how important do you think leadership is in changing the nature of how we speak about violence against Aboriginal women?
Prof. Kyllie Cripps - Thanks Karina. I think leadership is core in the sense that, I think leadership is core in the sense that, you know, we all have a responsibility and but also more than that, I think that, we grow up surrounded by Elders and by wonderful and powerful and strong women, but also brothers and uncles in our communities too and it's also, it's their leadership that we often look up to and are inspired by. And so leadership takes various forms, right? And it may be that they will be on boards, it may be that they will be professors like I am, although I never envisaged that I would be. But it is about, you know, when you’ve shared stories, how do you hold those stories? How do you hold those stories respectfully, with grace, with the love and the care that they're shared with? And knowing that when they're shared, they’re shared with purpose, someone shares them with you, not necessarily knowing the purpose that they're sharing with them with you at the time, but they share them with you, hoping, I think in their heart that that will affect change. I’ve sat in communities where women have shared with me, and men, have shared with me some horrendous stories of their experiences with violence and all they've wanted is change, right? And it is incumbent upon me to take those stories forward to effect that change, right? And that means, you know, sitting behind a computer trying to work out how to write that story, to affect that change now that is an awesome responsibility.
Karina Hogan - Yeah.
Prof. Kyllie Cripps - It carries a lot of weight and all of you also carry that weight you know what that weight is. So, you know, it is about honouring that, knowing how significant that is and doing the due diligence around that, right? The ethics around that. I often think when I'm writing something, you know, what would Aunty think of this, right? If I give this back to Aunty will Aunty be proud of this? Will I have done this justice? I can remember one of my proudest moments was doing a poster with an Elder a number of years ago and talking to our experiences of violence and how it feels for an Aboriginal woman to leave their violent circumstances and we put this poster together, we got it printed, we were ready to launch it, I put it in front of Aunty Fay and Aunty Fay was in tears and my response to that was “Have I got it wrong, Aunty Fay? We’ll pull it, we won't launch, we won’t go forward” and you know, it was all about how do I make Aunty Fay feel okay, right? And how do I honour that? And Aunty Fay’s response to me was, “These are good tears, Kyllie. You have captured what our women experience”. And now when I engage with services, I don't have to find the words the words are right here and it is honouring that story, right? And being true to that story and to the people that we’re working with. So, I mean, I don't know if I answered your question, Karina, but
Karina Hogan - Yeah, I think you raised a few interesting points there around due diligence and it being incumbent on you to do honour to the story, which at times I find quite difficult to do in a space that's not conducive with that. Quite often, you know, we are taught to not be biased and not to bring our own personal feelings and thoughts or not to push a certain agenda, but I tend to argue heavily with that. I can never be a white redheaded man from Cairns because that's just not who I am so I will never see through those eyes and so when I think about doing justice to a story, I think building a relationship is right at the core of that and I think that's right at the core of what it means to be a First Nations person. Dan, I wonder, how do you move through those kind of those two worlds? Being an Aboriginal man and having responsibilities as an Aboriginal and a cultural man, but then also working in a space that, let's face it from a media perspective, you know, it is not conducive with that but then also in an Australian media context is not even more so, not conducive with that. How do you ensure that you do the justice as an Aboriginal man, I suppose?
Dan Bourchier - Well, I'm not sure that I always do get it right, but I feel like it's a constant juggle. You're constantly juggling your commitments and your understanding of who you are and place with the requirements and the responsibilities within a media organisation where you have, you know, the tyranny of tight turn arounds and really sharp deadlines and that constant requirement for content and I think that or being what drives you is then what helps you to survive and so when Professor Cripps is talking about that, that kindness and that intrinsic value of listening and deeply hearing and understanding and also appreciating the power that we have within the media to look for what we highlight and what we leave out and what parts we focus on is really important and also, I mean, I just always see it as that it's always an opportunity to have a conversation, you know, to teach and so I think I've done that as a bit of a defense mechanism throughout my career so that it doesn't hit home personally but clearly it has and, you know, recently those experiences have certainly come out in the media and where something that really struck me was the number of young Indigenous and CALD reporters who got in touch with me to share their perspectives and their experience and to thank me for that bravery in speaking, and saying and speaking what my truth was and I feel like, you know, immediately some of those words that I said that were meant with kindness and compassion were twisted to be an attack on the ABC, an attack on the programs, the very program that I was on, which was not what I said and it wasn't my intention but this it goes to that the way that the media that can be inward looking about seeking to create or find a scandal, even if that's not there and the fact that the biggest point that I made about, “let's stop finger pointing and hold up a mirror” was completely missed because that didn't fit any sort of narrative that was having a crack at someone else or my own organisation and so I think that it's really troubling that that we are in this space within the media that seems to be going in the direction of the United States that is so much more polarised and about personalities, which I think is difficult and I wonder what that will mean for people like us and I suspect, like many of the people that are on this call today, to actually want to stay in the media, because I think that that's one of the things that we saw with Stan when his perspective was weaponized in the way that it was and he said, “I'm out”. What message does that send to the rest of us? That's not strictly about the topic we're talking about, but it is adjacent I think, and there are parallels to what he was saying about that bigger conversation about the beginning of contemporary Australia.
Karina Hogan - I couldn't agree more Dan, I think absolutely. It's absolutely adjacent and it resonates with me. We have a question from the audience around the nature of sensationalism of the media and how that drives reporting, which is linked very much to what you were just saying. How do we influence change in this, Dan and Kyllie, both of you, as that seems to be a huge driver behind the shocking and irresponsible headlines that we've seen and that we just heard you speak about, Kyllie.
Prof. Kyllie Cripps - Actually, you know, we think about sensationalism. It's thinking about, you know, yes, we understand that the media industry is a business, right? But we won't have stories if we can't engage with people and the people don't trust us to share their stories and it's also appreciating that when we engage with people, they have lives outside of these stories and that, indeed you know, however you frame those stories, there will be a consequence for those people after the story and so it's thinking about the longevity of the story, right? It's not just the moment that it gets, you know, a million likes or whatever, or a million hits or whatever, it's thinking about, again, I bring it back to ethics. I bring it back to the point of, you know, what's the impact on the people that we're engaging with? And moving it beyond that sensationalism to “what is our duty here?” to make sure that this is a safe space to report on? Because, you know, we were reporting on the safety of violence, right? We're reporting on violence and it's notoriously unsafe, you know, someone's been hurt in this process, but when we report on that, we have to be making sure that we're reporting on that in a way that's going to keep everybody safe, right? It's got to keep the victim safe, their family safe, it's going to keep the people that are reporting on it safe, right? And I think that that's critical, right? Because our stories have ripple effects and it's that ripple effect that we don't often think back to and it's also about the community, right? How is the community understood when we sensationalise something? And what does that mean for the future in terms of how they get services? How they're engaged with by the broader Australian community? How they're judged? You know, these are the things that we need to be reflecting on because if we don't, it doesn't change community attitudes to our victims, it doesn't change community attitudes to our families and communities and in fact, if anything, it makes the conditions of our living worse and we're not producing safety in those moments and so, yeah, I think sensationalism has its problems and we need to be thinking about safety in that sensationalism, because if we don't, then we're making violence against women more difficult.
Karina Hogan - Yes, absolutely. And I just want to remind people as well that I can jump in the chat area and pop in some questions there. We’re heading towards the end of the discussion but I want to speak a little bit about about four weeks ago, I was offered some advice from a colleague who labelled herself as an ‘ally’ and her advice was that I should learn to take race out of things when I'm thinking about telling stories and so on and so forth. I was, you know, she was met with a very interesting conversation but I wondered from both of you as Aboriginal people, what do you think White Australia can learn from First Nations people when it comes to storytelling, considering that we've been telling stories for thousands of years? Dan, I might start with you.
Dan Bourchier - Well, I think it's as deep as the ocean what can be learned and I think that generally speaking, there's a great interest and willingness to learn and have these conversations from the broader Australian population and the reason I can say that with any sense of authority is because the series that I’m just putting to air now,One Plus One and shameless plug, the second episode runs tonight, but the first episode with Aunty June Oscar AO last week, the comments that I've received overwhelmingly positive and going further than just saying, you know, “this is great and thank you”, but really going to the crux of of what Aunty June was talking about and the deep experience that she brought of connection to country, of being part of the songlines and the storylines and how those stories and connections that have been there for tens of thousands of years run through her veins and impact and influence the way that she tells stories and the way that she maintains her culture and the way that she carries out kinship care and even explaining and expanding on what kinship care is and so the great generosity from the Elders and, as Kyllie was talking about, the incredible aunties who, from my experience are so keen to share that story and that experience and I think that there's so much to learn and there's a great willingness. Going back to your earlier question about sensationalism, I think that's kind of the other side of this, and that's where that trust breaks down and where the Elders and aunties and mob don't want to speak to the media because of the way that they’ve been treated because of that trauma with whatever media organisation that is, becomes something that is attached to all media and I remember when we were sitting down with all the Elders in Canberra to do to begin conversations about how could we possibly acknowledge language on air? What we first had to do was sit around and do a truth-telling circle, and I said to the management team that was sitting with me, “You just need to listen, you don’t need to say anything right now you just have to listen and let them speak in the way that they want to speak and I'll facilitate this and we'll create a space where we can do proper truth-telling”, which ultimately ended up getting to a point where they wanted to clear up things and ways they've been treated by other media organisations and then the management had a chance to offer their insights about how they felt about that and what the perspective was and so what we did is then we got we were able to kind of navigate that and have a baseline of trust that then meant we were able to acknowledge Ngunnawal people on air, on TV, on radio and online, which then led to that happening across the ABC with a hundred other processes that happened and now when you land anywhere on a Qantas flight, you get an acknowledgement that came from that conversation where we were sitting down with the Elders and doing that truth-telling. So I remember at the time, we went to air for that first time and I felt a bit crestfallen at the end of the bulletin and I later, Aunty Agnes leaned over and she said, “What's wrong, boy?” And I said, “It just feels like we've done all this work” and then there's a little word behind me and I said, “Yuma” and “Yarra” on the TV, “And it feels like it was a bit, you know, symbolic” and she said, “What we've done is we've pushed a massive boulder into the water and we don't know what the ripple effect of that will be”. And I think that that is the wisdom of the Elders, that she was thinking about this from a broader, longer-term perspective, where I saw it as, that moment, wanting to change everything right away, you know, like the tyranny of youth, I guess. So I think there is so much to learn, but we have to be willing to listen.
Karina Hogan - That deep listening thing, Dan, it's something that I think is so innate for us as Aboriginal people. And, Kyllie reflecting on that, I just, I sorry, I just had a question from someone online, Sissy Austin, an Aboriginal woman who was attacked while running earlier this year. She says she has a lot of trauma associated with how reporters were demanding certain things just days after the attack. She felt scared, She was scared of her phone. “I also felt upset with the comments section” with so many comments saying that she should have died because she is Aboriginal. “The comments were shocking and I don't understand why the media outlets weren't deleting the messages.” I think that raises a question around the role and responsibility of media outlets to protect journos and be more proactive in monitoring online hate. I know when I was monitoring the Brisbane ABC page, I was met with a whole lot of racism that, you know, yeah, it was just, it was a lot. So, I guess what do you guys think? Kyllie, I'll start with you. What do you think we can do to promote or to try to improve our role in this space as far as protecting people from these comments?
Prof. Kyllie Cripps - I think, you know, I’m published in a whole range of areas. You know, one of the best things that The Conversation did, for example, was to turn the comments off for Indigenous authors so that we as authors didn't have to engage them, but neither did community members have to go into bat for us when we were struggling to work out, how do we respond to those comments? So there's that point, but the other thing I would say too, is, you know, it's recognising in our institutions that when there are good practice and, you know, I'm an academic, so I do have academic freedom in many respects but I also recognise that, you know, in our institutions that, there are people and areas in our institutions that understand the work we do, right? And will work with us to go through a process to make sure that when we are releasing our work, that we are safe, they'll work through what kind of messages do you want to put out? What kind of agencies do you want to work with? Do you want your phone number released? How do you want to be protected from comments? Have you thought about safety planning and what does that look like? And that kind of thing. And, you know, that comes from an institution that has policies around anti-racism and I think, you know, that our institution at Monash has an anti-racism policy that actively is working to break down and combat racist, racist policies, practices and cultures and ideas. So it involves deliberate action to challenge prejudice and race-based discrimination experienced by individuals. So I think that, you know, when you have the backing of an institution when you are experiencing those kind of circumstances, that helps, right? Sissy should never have been put in that circumstance and I'm aware of Sissy’s experience. I did read about Sissy’s experience - it was horrific and I'm deeply saddened by what she had to put through and that she was harassed for her story. You know, she should never have been put in that circumstance. You know, in the aftermath of violence, you need to be supported, you need to be wrapped in care, you need to be offered whatever it isthat you feel that you need in that moment, right? By your family, by your friends, by service providers. You do not need to be harassed to tell a story that you may not be in a position to tell yourself at that point. Right? You're still processing it. Acknowledge that they're still processing it, right? And I think that that is probably where we need to do our homework as journalists, right? Do our homework about what trauma looks like, right? And appreciate what it is that victims are holding in that moment and think about what is it that you're going to put on them by phoning them? By e-mailing them? And is your ask too great in that point, at that point? And I think if your heart tells you that that's the wrong thing to do, then don't do it. Be guided by your gut. If this was and I’ve said this to others before, if this was your mum, your sister, your daughter, your niece, and you were going to do this to them and you didn't think that that was okay, then why do it to somebody else, right? Be guided by how you would treat your loved one.
Karina Hogan - And I echo that and I followed Sissy’s story as well and I'm sorry you went through that, Sis. Can I just say, you know, we've raised things around, you know, that deep listening, deliberate action, holding space, the role of Aboriginal men, due diligence, doing honour to stories, creating relationships, building better leadership and greater institutions that support the importance of speaking about speaking responsibly about violence against Aboriginal women and speaking about it. Silence is not okay, and I think I would like to hear from the both of you about what your takeaways are. What would you like people to walk away from this conversation knowing or holding or actioning moving forward? Dan, I might start with you.
Dan Bourchier - Just that, you do have a voice and your perspective is really important and that we in the media have a tremendous responsibility to get it right and to be respecting of people's experiences and to understanding, as Professor Cripps said, the deep trauma and the impacts that that can have and there is a real clashing point here between, you know, understanding trauma and also that ever present crunch of deadlines and, you know, capturing the story or whatever has happened in that moment, which is a delicate dance at any time, but particularly when trauma is included but it's where I think that a ‘go slow’ or ‘go slower’ approach is much better because that gives them a chance, those people involved, a chance to really explore that. And also I would just say that everyone has individual power, you know, we make decisions about what media we are going to read and I wouldn't say stop reading necessarily mastheads that you disagree with. I would say use your power and write to the editor and send a message to the journalists making it clear to them how you fee. And I always do that thing when I'm writing an email as I'll write it, but not put the name in first just in case that first draft is a bit fiery and then I'll go and leave it for half an hour and then come back and go, “Okay, what am I really trying to say here? Did I just need to get that, you know, that said to myself? And what's the point that I really want them to take out of this? And how do I take this to a point where we can have a conversation about this?” So trying to create that point of conversation and learning.
Karina Hogan - and Kyllie, what about you?
Prof. Kyllie Cripps - I agree with Dan's points. I think the other point that I agree with Dan is around the deep listening. Take the time to listen. And the other point that I would make is the point that I made earlier. When you're writing a story, step away from it, come back and think about, is this the story and the way you've written it, how you would like your daughter, your mum, your aunty, your sister to be represented? If you don't feel comfortable with that, then rewrite it.
Karina Hogan - Thank you so much. And I just want to say a huge thank you to you, Professor Cripps, for your incredible work. Dan, I am forever grateful for how you've supported me through my journey of surviving domestic violence and also doing it while being a journalist in a newsroom where I am the only Aboriginal person. I would like to thank The Walkley Foundation and Our Watch. If you'd like more information, please jump onto the Our Watch website. This is an incredible stuff on there. I am so very grateful that we are having these conversations at a greater scale and again, I just want to leave you guys with just remembering the many Aboriginal women who have lost their lives to violence and I implore everyone to take time to hear their names. My Aunty Robbie Kyner is one of those and I am very grateful and appreciate everyone coming and listening. Thank you so much.
The ongoing impact of racism and colonisation in reporting has been thrown into the spotlight by recent media events.
All journalists and media professionals have a part to play in challenging the condoning of violence and sexual harassment against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, by challenging indifference, ignorance and disrespect towards Indigenous people and cultures, and addressing racist and sexist attitudes and social norms in their work.
This webinar is chaired by producer and broadcaster Karina Hogan, in conversation with Professor Kyllie Cripps and Dan Bourchier, discussing how to improve media reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to address the drivers of violence.
The session supports media professionals to contribute to a better understanding of, and pride in, rich and vibrant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. The one-hour online session includes a Welcome to Country led by a Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Diane Kerr.
This webinar is brought to you by Our Watch and The Walkley Foundation.