• 2019 Sunrise Ceremony Panel (Supplied)Source: Supplied
In the week leading up to January 26, NITV is programming a slate of programs on the theme of, Always Was, Always Will Be, to promote and encourage greater understanding of Indigenous Australian perspectives.
NITV Staff Writers

14 Jan 2020 - 8:11 AM  UPDATED 14 Jan 2020 - 8:11 AM

NITV is proud to announce its Always Was, Always Will Be programming slate, with a distinctive schedule of programs that invites communities to join together, reflect and celebrate what it means to be Australian on January 26.

A selection of dedicated programming, special events, premieres and news highlights will air from January 19-26 with a focus on encouraging greater understanding of Indigenous Australian perspectives.

When To Watch

At 8:30pm on Wednesday January 22, see the return of flagship current affairs program, The Point, with a special edition panel show titled, ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie? (Who The Bloody Hell Are We?)’, which will explore Australian identity and where the Indigenous story currently sits within the national psyche. The panel will delve into how Australia can better entwine its colonial and migrant stories with the ancient spirit of this land, particularly at a time of environmental crisis. 

One of the slate’s highlights is the premiere of, Marni (NITV’s first Slow TV commission) at 7:30pm on Thursday January 23. The film follows mesmerising footage of artist Allery Sandy creating ‘Ngarndu Marni’ – a dot-work painting of her homeland in the Pilbara region – interwoven with drone footage of that Country’s stunning landscape, a journeying soundtrack and Allery’s voiceover.

From 7pm on Saturday January 25, NITV will air a live cross to The Vigil – a smoking ceremony that will take place from dusk to dawn through the streets of Sydney. Hosted by Rae Johnston and Jack Latimore, the ceremony will give audiences a chance to reflect upon Australia’s rich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, as well as its colonial institutions and contemporary multicultural migration through live music, choral and poetry performances.

At 6am on Sunday January 26, the nation is invited to tune in and experience unique perspectives, cultural performances and entertainment encapsulated in NITV’s Sunrise Ceremony (simulcast on SBS and SBS On Demand).

Hosted by John Paul Janke, this two-hour special network event commences live from Sydney’s North Head as the dawn rises, and will encourage audiences to deepen their understanding of the nation, while acknowledging the past and embracing a shared future.

A smoking ceremony at sunrise will be accompanied by a panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, who will discuss the solutions for issues impacting First Nations communities today, alongside song, dance and musical performances from Djakapurra, Eric Avery and Mau Power.

News crosses throughout the day will be hosted by Natalie Ahmat, Rae Johnston, Janice Petersen and Marc Fennell, and will see NITV News bringing audiences hourly bulletins, including live crosses to journalists at ‘Australia Day’, ‘Survival Day’ and ‘Invasion Day’ events around the country.

At 8:30pm on January 26, NITV and SBS will simulcast the 2012 award-winning film, The Sapphires. Starring Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy and Miranda Tapsell, the film depicts four, talented Indigenous Australian women who learn about love, friendship and war as the all-girl group travels to Vietnam to entertain the US troops.

Tanya Orman, NITV Channel Manager, said: “As Australia’s national Indigenous broadcaster, NITV is an important platform for Indigenous voices and truth-telling every day of the year, but January 26 is a particularly poignant moment in our calendar. We have an opportunity to not only help all Australians deepen their understanding of our nation’s identity, but to also share truly spiritual moments with our community.

“250 years on from the landing at Botany Bay, we encourage Australians to tune in and learn more about the Indigenous history of the land we all stand on.”


NITV will provide Facebook Live streams from the Sunrise Ceremony and The Vigil, as well as live coverage throughout the day from events around the country, hosted by NITV correspondents.

Additional programs and features on SBS television channels, SBS Radio, as well as online and social platforms will further explore the experiences of multicultural Australia.

SBS will simulcast with NITV from 6am-2pm, commercial free, and SBS On Demand will live stream both The Vigil and the Sunrise Ceremony, as well as the creation of a January 26 programming collection on the site.

SBS Food will host a marathon of Australian cooking and travel programming from both Indigenous and multi-cultural perspectives, including NITV content such as On Country Kitchen, and popular SBS Food programs Sara's Australia Unveiled, Poh’s Kitchen and Rick Stein’s Seafood Odyssey.

SBS Radio will cover citizenship ceremonies and community events, reflecting the experiences of multicultural and Indigenous Australians across its language programs. The programs will also include a series of interviews with ‘Australia Day’ ambassadors and community members, which will be available across all platforms on-air, online and social.

SBS Sport will feature several five-minute short-form interviews with Craig Foster, who will speak to CEO’s of various sporting codes including the Rugby League and NBL, to discuss what obligations their sport has to Indigenous athletes and how they can bring about positive change.

SBS Voices will be publishing three articles exploring the different realities around the date of January 26 - what if Australia had not been colonised by the British and was an independent Indigenous nation? What if it had been influenced by Islam? Or colonised by the French?

SBS World Movies will air home-grown cinema throughout the evening of January 26, including Oscar-nominated Lion, followed by Ali’s Wedding.


NITV presents a selection of dedicated programming, special events and news highlights with a focus on encouraging greater understanding of Indigenous Australian perspectives on 26 January. Join the conversation #AlwaysWasAlwaysWillBe