• Elizabeth Wymarra with her daughter Ashleianne Wymarra protesting at the front of Network Ten over comments made by TV presenter, Kerri-Anne Kennerley. (NITV)Source: NITV
OPINION: Debates in the media between exclusively non-Indigenous commentators with no subject expertise will no longer be tolerated according to one First Nations activist who says this white privilege has got to stop.
Elizabeth Wymarra

30 Jan 2019 - 8:42 AM  UPDATED 30 Jan 2019 - 8:42 AM

Two days ago, I watched Studio 10, a panel program on Network Ten that I don’t usually watch and I thought ‘this goona has got to stop’.

All I can say is my ancestors guided me to watch the Australia Day change the date segment.

The program featured Kerri-Anne Kennerley looking down the barrel of the camera directly at the audience, challenging the Protesters who attended all the Invasion Day Marchs and demanding to know “has any one of those five thousand people waving their flags saying how inappropriate the day is, has any one of them been out to the outback where children, babies, five-year olds are being raped. Their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped. They get no education. What have you done? Zippo.”

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The scene was set after protesters gathered outside Network Ten's Sydney studio following a heated on-air debate about Australia Day demonstrators.

To me Kerri-Anne was insinuating that the protesters who went out and marched did not go into remote communities or do anything to stop violence against Indigenous women and children.

I was offended by Kerri-Anne’s language on the program, her lack of evidence on the topic and her ‘throw away’ stereotypical remarks about our Indigenous communities. And I was frustrated because there was no ‘throw’ to any Indigenous person on that panel or any other protest participant, to get their point of view on this highly sensitive topic.

So I took my point of view to my social media account & I pressed the live button.

In a snap shot I sent a public message to Kerri-Anne to let her know that I side with Yumi Stynes and that I also think Kerri-Anne sounded racist on the program.

I also think Kerri-Anne sounded racist on the program.

Because the last time I checked I didn’t see Kerri-Anne in my community helping me or my people so who is she to be pointing fingers at people for going to marches, and then making out they don’t go into communities and help? How does Kerri-Anne know all those 50,000 people who marched with us?

And for that matter, how does she know all these Indigenous women and children who are being raped? I called for Kerri-Anne to back it up. Because the last time I checked, there are a lot of whitefellas going through rape and sexual abuse in the cities too. 

And my message to all of the Studio 10 panellists who, in my opinion did not back Yumi up, you’re siding with the oppressor and Kerri-Anne Kennerley is, in my opinion, the oppressor.

As for all the people who came out and marched, peace my people and thank you for your solidarity.

Since posting the clip (be warned it has a lot of swearing in it) over 80,000 people have watched it and together with Fighting in Solidarity Towards Treaties (FISTT) we called a snap protest at the Network Ten yesterday.

Now I want to see Kerri-Anne held accountable for having racist views, even though she has denied it. Because if Yumi and I, as two women of colour, feel Kerri-Anne Kennerley was being racist, then yes, Kerri-Anne Kennerley was being racist.


A person like Kerri-Anne Kennerley, who has white privilege does not get to decide if she is racist or not, she does not get to decide what is racist against any person of colour.

A person like Kerri-Anne Kennerley, who has white privilege does not get to decide if she is racist or not, she does not get to decide what is racist against any person of colour.

Yumi Stynes does not have to be Indigenous either to call out racism.

Yumi, whether she knows it or not was being a staunch ally and what she did is exactly what we should all do. Call out the racism when we see it.

As for yesterday’s follow up conversation on Studio 10, it was non-productive in terms of addressing white privilege and racism because no-one held Kerri-Anne accountable for her views on the Invasion Day protestors.Kerri-Anne still didn’t give any specific examples to which communities she was referring to when she stated her offensive views the day before.

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Instead what happened was typical, text book white privilege damage control. 

Protect the racist and shoot the messengers; in this case, the protesters and Yumi.

But this isn’t over. Network Ten should be ashamed for entertaining a debate between two Indigenous women instead of focusing on Kerri-Anne’s comments. 

What I want to see is racism against me and my people stopped on commercial TV and in the Australian broadcasting industry.  

I’d also like to see more non-Indigenous people like Kerri-Anne using their white privilege to stand behind us Indigenous people in our ever-growing Indigenous movement.

And what I’d also like to see happen is for Kerri-Anne Kennerley to be sacked from the panel of Studio 10. I’d like to see a public apology to Yumi Stynes and all the protesters who attended the Invasion Day march and an apology to Indigenous people who were offended watching the program.

I’d like to see hard conversations happen at Network 10.  I think the executives at Studio 10 need to hold the panellists accountable for not calling out racism when they did not support Yumi during the program.

I’d also hope that Yumi is supported in her decisions for calling out racism in the work place.

And I’d like to see all Network Ten employees, including the executives, do an Aboriginal cultural training course with reputable Aboriginal cultural training facilitators.

And I also call for at least 3 or more grassroots Indigenous panellist on Studio 10 whenever Indigenous issues are discussed.  

I want white people to understand that they do not get to decide what is racist.

Elizabeth Wymarra @woollogirl is an author, teacher, actor, film-maker, and activist.