• AFTRS CEO Neil Peplow, Lester Bostock, AFTRS Chair Julianne Schultz and David White. (AFTRS)Source: AFTRS
Indigenous media pioneer Lester Bostock was recognised with an honorary Doctorate of Arts from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) on Tuesday.
Karina Marlow

16 Dec 2016 - 11:10 AM  UPDATED 16 Dec 2016 - 11:10 AM

Bostock, who left school at "a very early age, about 13 or 14" was overjoyed to receive his honorary degree from AFTRS, where his trailblazing work led to the establishment of an Indigneous education unit to train future media workers.

"I was just numb at the start... I didn't think that I would get a degree."

Always humble, the film, television and radio producer responded to the title Dr Bostock by saying "I've got to get used to that."

Lester Bostock, known to many as ‘Uncle Lester’, was one of the founding members of Black Theatre in the 1970s and worked as a producer on numerous shows.

In the 1980s he turned his eyes to a new medium and helped to form Radio Redfern, which is now known as Koori Radio. The Bundjalung Elder was the first Aboriginal presenter on SBS Radio and was part of the first Aboriginal program team at SBS Television with Rhoda Roberts.

"I just needed to do things at that time and I come from a background in social intervention. Being born on an Aboriginal reserve knowing all of these things, I just needed to do things to make things better."

Bostock also worked as the associate producer on the film Lousy Little Sixpence released in 1983 which resulted in him pushing for film and television training for Indigenous people. He went on to write policies and protocols on filming in Aboriginal communities and for Indigenous Employment at the SBS.

In his overseas travels Lester met many Indigenous television and film makers from around the world and helped to build links between Indigenous media. He represented Australia as a member of the National Commission to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Lester Bostock ran accelerated training workshops at AFTRS in television in the 1990s, a legacy that has helped to pave the way of the AFTRS Indigenous Unit. He also established a community-based training scheme at Metro Screen where he later served as President for six years.

"These days you've got to have some sort of credit that you've done things," he said. "In my day it was all about turning up to meetings."

AFTRS Chair Julianne Schultz described Lester’s mentorship schemes and training programs as "instrumental in the increase in Indigenous drama production among emerging filmmakers, and his guidance and tenacity over the years has contributed greatly to the number of extraordinarily talented Indigenous filmmakers in the industry today.”

Bostock has received numerous awards for his community service over the years including a Centenary Medal, the NSW Law and Justice Foundation Award for Aboriginal Justice and in 2010 he was the recognised as the NAIDOC Elder of the Year.

Academy-award winner David White who worked on the sound design for Mad Max: Fury Road also received a Doctor of Arts from AFTRS. Previous honorary degree recipients include Darren Dale, Phillip Noyce, George Miller, Baz Luhrmann, John Edwards and Jan Chapman.

Learn more about Lester Bostock and his achievements through the 'Our Stories' documentary available On Demand.