• Hosts of The Point, Rachael Hocking and John-Paul Janke . (NITV)Source: NITV
On Wednesday night, The Point brought home the issues debated around the world in recent weeks — including SBS employees' own experiences of racism at the broadcaster.
Neil McMahon

The Point
2 Jul 2020 - 5:18 PM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2020 - 5:21 PM

This week's episode of The Point took on the front-and-centre issue of Black Lives Matter. Not just the global movement, but how corporate giants are trying to hijack it, cash in on it and show their support for it.

The show also took a look closer to home.

As host Rachael Hocking said in the intro: "In our own backyard, the multicultural broadcaster SBS - the home of NITV - has been called out this week on diversity leadership and claims of bullying and racism. Allegations have been made by former employees on social media that many in the community have labelled horrific."

"Including myself."

Hocking was referring to a letter, first reported in Guardian Australia, from SBS staff to the board pleading for change. The letter said in part: "As a multicultural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander broadcaster, the appointment of the next director of news should be an opportunity and not a blind spot."

Screenwriter Kodie Bedford has also described her experiences, in a powerful Twitter thread. "No one cared about the racism we received. It was more about protecting that person and the company," she said. 

On The Point, Ms Hocking said: "It's important that this organisation is held to account and we're going to be interviewing SBS's managing director James Taylor later in the week and put to him many of the questions our community are rightly asking." 

Black Lives Matter co-opted by brands

The program also did a deep dive into the Black Lives Matter movement and the co-opting of that movement by what seems like every big company on the planet, trying to prove their social justice bona fides. 

"What is a powerful moment in history has also become a form of social currency. And for people protesting on the streets — calling for systemic change – some of these posts can seem a little hollow," Hocking said.

Dr Abas Mirzaei, senior lecturer in marketing at Sydney's Macquarie University, told The Point that consumers are often the driver of this corporate urge to adopt social causes as their own.

"It is expected from brands, but the reality is that brands are not really experienced in this area," Dr Mirzaei said.

"So they want to kind of show emotion. They want to respond to those calls to stay relevant to their target audience, but because of lack of experience, often they see themselves in hot water and in the middle of backlash." 

A case in point, as highlighted on the show: the notorious Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad from 2017 - a hijacking of the BLM movement so obviously terrible that it was mercifully pulled off air quite quickly.

The Point also looked at Nestle, in the headlines in the past few days for its decision to change the names of Chicos and Redskins. 

And it reported on what happened to its own brand recently - when super-streaming platform Netflix urged subscribers to switch off for the night and watch NITV instead.

What happened?

"Our views went up more than 800 per cent."

Indigenous businesses and COVID-19

The Point also examined how Indigenous businesses can adapt to the coronavirus era, focusing on a Queensland program helping business owners. 

Claudine Thornton - who has her own business - now helps other business owners navigate the many pitfalls facing every business in unprecedented times at the Indigenous Business to Business Support Service.

"We're there to support anyone who wants information on anything. We've had a big, diverse array of inquiries. From apprenticeships to arts questions and there's micro-businesses, and we've also got businesses that are 20-plus employees as well, so there's a big, diverse range of people calling in," she said.

Leesa Watego, of the South-East Queensland Indigenous Chambers of Commerce, helped build the centre and said the key was sharing advice from business owners. 

"One of the things we're also after is, as an Indigenous business owner, what's the one piece of advice that you would share with people? Is it, you know, have fun? Don't forget to have fun. Make sure you've got your cash flow in order? Learn how to take risks? Get the support of your family?"

The future of Australian tourism

And the crucial issue of the crisis facing tourism also took centre stage. Are Australia's rich tourism areas ready to re-open? The Point spoke to tourism operators to gauge the future of the industry.

Bart Pigram, from Narlijia Tours in Broome, landed the problem: "We work hard in the off-season to do things different, to build on our products for the season … and there's no season. It was a really deflating mood."

Now, they are reviving.

"It's been a tough few months to lose your core incomes, but people are resilient. Our businesses are resilient. I'm confident our people will bounce back out of this," said Jason Eades, CEO of Welcome To Country.

- You can watch The Point on Wednesday evenings at 8.30pm on NITV (Ch34). 

- Get involved in the discussion on Twitter and Facebook using #ThePointNIT