• Indigenous people from around the world gather at NITV studios in Sydney for the 2016 WITBN conference. (Carla Orsatti)Source: Carla Orsatti
“For the first time their communities could simply sit back and watch their favourite sport and hear the commentary in their own language – in their own country.”
Ben Winsor

8 Nov 2016 - 12:34 PM  UPDATED 8 Nov 2016 - 1:03 PM

The World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network is meeting on Gadigal Land in Sydney this week for its eighth global conference, hosted by SBS’s own National Indigenous Television Network (NITV).

Tanya Denning-Orman, Channel Manager for NITV, opened the conference with a powerful speech on the importance of indigenous TV (if we do say so ourselves).

“Our vision is to preserve and promote indigenous languages and cultures worldwide,” Denning-Orman said.

“At a time when indigenous people make up five per cent of the world's population, but account for 15 per cent of the world’s poor, indigenous media – having a voice for us – having a voice for the world to connect with us - is more important than ever,” she said.

Broadcast media has the power to connect and empower communities, giving cultures and stories national recognition.

Denning-Orman spoke glowingly of the Canadian Aboriginal Peoples Television Network’s decision to peruse broadcast rights for the 2014 Winter Olympics – and to broadcast content in indigenous languages.

“I was so inspired to see how Aboriginal words were created to take on ‘sporting terms and manoeuvres ’ – let alone the mere fact that for the first time their communities could simply sit back and watch their favourite sport and hear the commentary in their own language, in their own country,” she said.

As the world’s longest continuous indigenous culture, Denning-Orman said Australian Indigenous broadcasters had a special responsibility as “the world’s oldest story-tellers”.

Being part of a network of indigenous broadcasters gave NITV the ability to amplify those stories worldwide.

'WITBN is family': Indigenous broadcast forum opens at NITV
Eight Indigenous broadcasting operators from around the globe are meeting in Sydney to discuss and celebrate Indigenous cultures around the world.

“When our news team, through our perspective told the stories of remote community closures and detention centers – it was WITBN that echoed our story – our way – to a world audience,” Denning-Orman said, “A global audience interested to know what exactly is going on in Australia.”

“It is this network that sees the value of the indigenous voice – it is through WITBN where our people can see their place in the world,” she said.

To mark the hosting of WITBN’s 2016 conference, NITV and SBS On Demand have launched an exclusive web series of indigenous content from around the world, Nations Without Borders.

The series includes stories of a Canadian Cree woman in incarceration, to the Amis people of Eastern Taiwan fighting a battle against commercial and government property developers, and Maori tribes findings solutions to widespread homelessness.

Nations Without Borders - Episode One [Full Episode]


Taking Indigenous languages online: can they be seen, heard and saved?
Why Australian television needs a makeover
A new report from Screen Australia confirms that the Australian television industry has a diversity problem. But what is the way forward?
Why Daria is the feminist icon every girl needs
As feminism becomes increasingly co-opted by the mainstream, there's something refreshing about Daria's insistence on being her strange and unflinching self.
Why are people still trying to deny the brutality of slavery?
It's difficult to find concrete evidence to suggest that the slaves building the White House were "well fed" as one conservative commentator has claimed.