SBS is set to conduct public consultation on the criteria proposed for its Radio Services Review. Starting on Monday (November 14) and running through December the 11th, audiences, communities and stakeholders will have the chance to offer input on the audio and language content.
SBS has committed to reviewing and updating its radio schedule every five years.
Content Manager Mark Cummins says programming must evolve to ensure SBS reflects the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities across the country.
Mr Cummins says the review will include criteria intended to help guide language programming.
"These criteria are going to be used with the 2016 census data that will be released next year to determine which languages are provided by SBS Radio Services. So the way that those services will be delivered will be determined on the results of the census that we'll get, and then we'll take into account the changes in audience listening habits, but we'll also, of course, take into account the feedback that we get from this public consultation. We'll look through all of that and understand what the community is saying about what they want from SBS."
Mr Cummins says he expects to receive broad community feedback.
"After having run the process in 2012, we're pretty confident that communities and organisations, in particular, will understand what this process is about and how important it is to feed into it, because it really is a really important time for communities to let us understand what they need and what they want."
The last review of SBS Radio's service was conducted over 2012-2013, the first major review in 18 years.
That led to a new radio schedule with 74 languages, including six new languages from Asia and Africa.
Malayalam, Hmong and Pashto were brought in, along with three new African languages, Dinka, Swahili and Tigrinya.
Mark Cummins says expanding the number of language groups has been exceptionally meaningful.
"Someone's language -- it can be Dinka, it can be Tigrinya, it could be Hmong or Kurdish, for example, languages, in particular, that don't have a home country and don't have a national broadcaster -- the symbol, that value of us being able to do news and information about life in Australia but also news and information about what's going on in the world, is a huge thing for communities, to understand, 'My language counts, I have a place, I have a place at the table of democracy.'"
Federation of African Communities Councils in Australia vice president Edward D. Solo says including the African languages has been significant.
He says it helps ensure inclusion, participation and social cohesion.
Mr Solo says language allows groups to become empowered.
"If you want somebody to be much more involved and productive and contribute much more positively, then you must be able to empower them to be able to actually do for themselves what others profess to do for them. So I think that is a very significant step, and that's something that I commend."
Centre for Multicultural Youth chief executive Carmel Guerra says the 2012/13 revamp was an important step.
"Because SBS is often the gateway for many of the new communities to engage with Australian society, so it has to be reflective and at the forefront of communicating with those communities. And particularly if it wants to communicate with young people, who constitute, really, the largest proportion of new arrivals as in young under-30, under-40, you have to be utilising digital platforms as well."
She says SBS is well-recognised as a vehicle to help with integration.
"Engaging, speaking to young people, giving them a platform to talk to each other but also to their own communities and elders and parents, is a really important way of helping the community move into the Australian society, so I think that SBS can play a really important role in doing that."
Mark Cummin says he recognises the importance of a broader audience, including younger listeners.
"Over this past five years, the changes that we've made at SBS Radio with regards to what platforms we're on -- and that, for the most part, it's been really embracing digital platforms, social media in particular -- in doing that, we've found a whole new audience and a much younger audience, who are happily now aware that we exist and are engaging with us on a day-to-day basis. So we are looking forward to hearing from those communities and particularly those younger listeners, who perhaps are not engaging with linear radio but are engaging with us on our social media and our digital platforms. So I think that's a really exciting part of what we're about to do."
Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria chairman Eddie Micallef says he will be encouraging people to express their thoughts throughout the consultation process.
He says SBS needs to reflect the overall position and requirements of diverse communities.
"I think it is good that SBS has these reviews from time to time, and I also think ... I won't put it in the terms of winners and losers, but some communities have to accept the reality that their needs have to be balanced with the needs of newer and emerging communities, and those sort of issues need to be taken very much into account. So I'd say, look, even though there was some criticism of the last review, I think that reviews are very necessary from time to time."
Edward D. Solo says he also believes the African community will be keen to be involved in the consultation.
"This is a very interesting and important subject to us as we consider designing programs that will help our people to settle, integrate better in the society and make meaningful contributions. We look forward to having a good (amount) of African involvement and participation, being able to contribute to the best outcome for the consultation."
SBS will run both English and translated recorded notifications to inform audiences of the SBS Radio Services Review and the public-consultation process.
The selection criteria is due to be finalised in March 2017, with the new schedule to launch before the end of 2017.
The draft selection criteria has been published since on Monday, (nov 14) and feedback can be left via
Package by Sonja Heydeman