I would like to pay respect to the traditional owners of the land as we gather here with our Indigenous broadcasting brothers and sisters from across the planet – what a special feeling it is today to share and unite for this important moment.
To all of our SBS and NITV colleagues along with our screen and industry partners here today; thank you for joining us – thank you for sharing our journey to create and deliver Indigenous stories, languages and cultures to audiences not just in Australia but the world over.
I acknowledge and thank my family, my community in northern Queensland, the Birri from my mother and Guugu Yimithirr from my Grandfather.
Every day I am proud to represent my community and very proud to be the Channel Manager of NITV - a channel that shares stories which inspire young Indigenous people, make elders feel proud and connect all Australians with our unique Indigenous languages, culture and history.
I am also absolutely honoured to be standing here today with you as Chair of the World Indigenous TV Broadcast Network (WITBN).
A network founded 8 years ago and today representing broadcasters from Norway, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.
Our vision is to preserve and promote Indigenous languages and cultures worldwide.
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.
As a network we strive to develop and foster collaborative relationships amongst Indigenous television broadcasters, allowing us to amplify our audience impact.
To create content sharing opportunities and nurture Indigenous media worldwide.
Through this Network we exchange content, news, staff, and ideas. Today we release our latest Current Affairs series – Nations Without Borders. This week our network will collaborate, connect with the Australian production sector and develop screen business opportunities.
I’m confident that by the end of this week – our fifth major gathering since 2008, that we will have mapped out a strong path forward for this global network to deliver positive outcomes for all members of WITBN, positive outcomes for our audiences and positive outcomes for all of those who share our aspirations
But WITBN is more than a way to unify broadcasters committed to a shared purpose. It inspires and challenges us. WITBN is part of our mob, it is family.
It was WITBN that showed me anything is possible for an Indigenous Broadcaster, like winning the rights of the Rugby World Cup, just as MaoriTV did in 2011.
Through WITBN I learnt not only how to win the rights of the Winter Olympics in 2014 but also how Canada’s APTN broadcast the games in multiple Aboriginal languages – I was so inspired to see how Aboriginal words were created to take on ‘sporting terms and maneuvres ’ – let alone the mere fact that for the first time their communities could simply sit back and watch their favorite sport and hear the commentary in their own language, in their own country.
It was WITBN that taught me the art of leadership, where in Hawaii through Oiwi TV I learnt on a Vaha how we need to row in one direction – together and united. One team member out of sync and we don’t move forward.
It was in Taiwan with TITV that through dance and song and sharing the friendship cup, I understood how I am a part of a united ‘World’ tribe – never to be afraid, and be bold in decisions.
WITBN taught me the impact NITV has had beyond our shores. The role and responsibility of the world’s oldest story-tellers.
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. 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.
WITBN does however have much to learn, our journey far from complete. NITV has been honored to have lead the network since it was handed to us from Canada earlier this year and I am excited to announce that following our conference Australia will return the Wakahuia to its home in New Zealand where MaoriTV will take guardianship once again of WITBN and, with CEO Paora Maxell’s leadership, strengthen our ties and grow our possibilities further.
Until then I give respect to our journey and in my language of Guugu Yimithirr we sing this journey to acknowledge those who made it possible, some no longer with us. We sing to celebrate the strength of the Maori who will guide WITBN to our tenth milestone. We sing for our future with Yill Lull Yill Lull Yill Lull Yill Lull.
And in the language of Birri I say to you all – go well with Woodamooli