• Rhoda Roberts AO will provide guidance about First Nations matters, support and advise SBS teams across culturally-informed organisational practices (SBS)Source: SBS
A proud Widjabul Wia-bal woman from the Bundjalung nation, Rhoda Roberts AO will bring a wealth of cultural and artistic knowledge to SBS as the organisation's inaugural 'Elder In Residence'.
Emily Nicol

16 Sep 2021 - 6:39 PM  UPDATED 16 Sep 2021 - 6:55 PM

Actor, director and arts executive Aunty Rhoda Roberts AO will add another string to her bow as she becomes the inaugural Elder in Residence at the multicultural broadcaster. 

SBS Managing Director James Taylor announced on Thursday the appointment of Rhoda Roberts, in a role that will see her provide cultural guidance to the management and leadership teams working across the SBS & NITV.

In response to her appointment announcement, Roberts addressed SBS staff via email and spoke of the moment as being one of 'coming home'.

"Our leaders remind us that everything is written twice – once on the ground and then once in the sky. I see this position a little like this philosophy – one for the organisation and one for our audiences," Roberts wrote.

The program, developed for over a year in response to a Cultural Diversity Action Plan, is aimed at enhancing culturally sound practices and acknowledging the value of First Nations Elders.

In a statement, Taylor welcomed Roberts to the role and spoke of the long history the creative arts luminary has with the channel.

"We’re pleased to call Rhoda a long-standing member of the SBS family.

"Not only did she recently host the NITV forum program We Say No More, as well as... numerous other SBS productions over the years, Rhoda was the presenter of First In Line on SBS, the first Indigenous current affairs show in prime time on Australian television," said Taylor.

Roberts was an advocate for the establishment of NITV and its principles of First Nations-led media, and was also the host for the launch event of the channel in 2012.

With an illustrious career in media and the performing arts, including as Head of First Nations Programming for the Sydney Opera House, curator of Parrtjima, Director of Boomerang Festival at Bluesfest and more, Rhoda Roberts continues to be an advocate for First Nations culture through the mediums of song, dance and storytelling.

The design of the Elders In Residence program was developed in an Indigenous-led and informed structure, of which Roberts was a part.

She will continue to offer support into the future of the role beyond her own residency, alongside other appointed Elders.

Among many outlined benefits, SBS sees the Elders In Residence program as offering a 'celebration of the continued practice and dynamism of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders cultures and knowledges', and an opportunity to 'understand and amplify Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander voices within SBS'.

The initial term of the Elder will be one-year period, with the option to extend for a further two years.

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