NITV channel manager Tanya Denning-Orman explores how diverse voices can contribute in allowing us all to move forward and build a stronger society together.
Tanya Denning-Orman, NITV Channel Manager

29 Nov 2016 - 11:14 AM  UPDATED 1 Dec 2016 - 12:44 PM

As Australia’s home of Indigenous storytelling, NITV is a trusted source of information, committed to accurately representing and sharing diverse stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with the aim of encouraging a deeper understanding among all Australians.

Championing Indigenous voices to empower our communities is at the very heart of the channel and as part of SBS, I am incredibly proud of the role that we play. Whilst absolutely dedicated to celebrating the successes and aspirations of our First Nations communities, as Australia’s national Indigenous broadcaster, we also have the responsibility to explore a range of topics, which sometimes lead to conflicting debates.

Tonight’s premiere of returning series, First Contact, is being broadcast simultaneously on both SBS and NITV. First Contact is the kind of show which sparks important discussions relevant to all Australians and it’s vital that we are part of it. In particular, NITV is demonstrating our solidarity with the generous Indigenous Australians who took part in the series; opening their homes and sharing their culture, as well as supporting a brave and unflinching Indigenous production company.

As First Nations peoples, I recognise that some of what is featured may be confronting to NITV’s audience. However, a series like this has the power to increase awareness of the many difficulties facing Indigenous Australians, with the hope that increased debate can inspire solutions for both present and future generations. 

The power of documentary enables us to tell personal stories through a range of voices – some positive, some negative, but nevertheless, voices which need to be heard. At NITV, we do not shy away from important discussions surrounding Australia’s Indigenous communities. And whilst it’s not easy to present conflicting views, we must ask ourselves that if we only provide a singular perspective, how can move forward and build a stronger society together?

Storytelling is at the very heart of First Nations cultures. It’s in our DNA and central to everything we do at NITV. Across our diverse slate of programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we embrace the whole spectrum of Indigenous culture, which includes tackling difficult conversations through balanced perspectives, shaped uniquely through an Indigenous lens.  

As Australia’s national Indigenous broadcaster, NITV is well-positioned to engage in these debates and is a valid platform to host these varied perspectives. Through compelling human stories, we explore subjects in a personal way, which helps to break down barriers and encourage understanding. This is exactly the approach we’ve taken in broadcasting First Contact, where additional programming offers a deeper insight into the issues raised and includes a range of viewpoints.

Ahead of each episode of First Contact, our leading news and current affairs show The Point presents informed and in-depth analysis. Through a number of feature stories, our Indigenous reporting team reflects on both the difficulties and success stories within our communities and actions that are needed to drive real change.

Following tonight’s opening episode, NITV presents Awaken: First Response, which speaks to some of Australia’s leading Indigenous figures about the series. I am proud that we can extend this conversation further on NITV, providing audiences with a deeper context and diverse range of thoughts and conversation.  

Also this week, compelling NITV documentary Servant or Slave offers rare insights into the women who were forced into domestic servitude. Following the lives of five Aboriginal women who were stolen from their families, the film documents their harrowing journeys.  Trained as domestic servants to be assimilated into mainstream Australian society, these women have fought hard to have their story heard.

And whilst all these programs identify issues facing Indigenous people today, they also showcase the stories of resilience, strength and pride that run so deeply within our communities. The positive work of Indigenous leaders and communities highlighted in First Contact illustrate the proactive efforts our people are taking to address and overcome the issues.  

To move forward together, we must engage directly with these difficult conversations. But equally as important, are the inspiring stories of Australia’s unique cultural heritage, the depth of connection through our art, song and dance and the empowering achievements of our sporting heroes. These stories and more are showcased on NITV every day and are absolutely central to the work of a national Indigenous broadcaster.

Six out of 10 Australians have had little to no contact with an Indigenous person and our story as a nation cannot be celebrated when we still have this divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

By bringing the, at times, forceful contest of ideas to the forefront across both SBS and NITV through First Contact, we can positively contribute to a deeper understanding of our First Nations cultures – encouraging a proactive national conversation that helps drive a more informed and inclusive society.

First Contact series 2 airs on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week on SBS and NITV at 8:30pm.

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