In spring 2015, Indigenous media organisations from around Australia headed to Lajamanu, a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory, nine hours’ drive from Darwin, to participate in the National Remote Indigenous Media Festival.
The annual five-day event hosted by IRCA, the Indigenous Remote Communications Association, brings together Indigenous media organisations from all corners of the country, from the Torres Strait to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of South Australia, in the effort to build the capacity of the media industry in Australia’s remote communities.
Gilmore Johnston, the network manager of Queensland Remote Aboriginal Media who co-hosted the 2014 conference, said in a media statement:
“We want our broadcasters and our media-makers right across the country to be armed with the skills and the knowledge that can take them further, and to enhance their programming, to be professional.”
The eight largest Indigenous media organisations come together to serve more than 150 remote communities where many, such as Lajamanu, are located hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest town.
The media organisations, including the Australian Film and Television School, run workshops for the remote communities on topics such as storytelling, the technical skills involved in production and how to raise funding for projects they endeavor to carry out.
Travis Cardona, NITV’s advisor on Indigenous policy and stakeholder relations, said the festival was key to ensuring media in remote and regional parts of Australia thrived.
“It’s a great opportunity to network and collaborate with other Indigenous media practitioners,” he added.
Media initiatives in remote parts of the country are important to support to help keep the myriad of Indigenous Australian cultures alive, which they do through broadcasting programs in languages.
The theme for 2015 is Wintaru Wangkanjaku Ngurraku and translates as ‘Speaking to Country, Speaking from Country’ to emphasise the importance of language and the way land is entwined with their cultures.
NITV’s Our Stories project is on point with the festival. It reaches out each year to producers in remote regions of the country so that they can tell their stories, which would not otherwise be shared, through digital song-lines.
Our Stories is part of the Regional, Remote and Emerging Initiative from NITV that forms relationships with young storytellers from regional areas with the aim to provide them with the support they need to launch their media careers.
The media festival provides an important opportunity to discuss how to combat the challenges that producers face, including insufficient telecommunications services and the effort to install reliable broadband in remote communities.
Media practitioners work with IRCA to develop strategies to provide support for their industry and to campaign for more government action.
The event also showcases the achievements of the remote Indigenous media sector and rewards excellence in broadcasting.
One of the achievements of previous events was setting up Indigitube, an online platform for showcasing radio, television and music from remote communities.
IRCA is also involved in the Broadband for the Bush alliance to campaign for communities to be connected to the National Broadband Network, and be supplied fast and reliable Internet.
The 2015 event was hosted by the Indigenous Remote Communications Association (IRCA) in partnership with Pintubi Anmatjerre Warlpiri (PAW) Media and Indigenous Community Television (ICTV).
IRCA thanks the traditional owners and community leaders for welcoming delegates to their country.