• Sasha Sarago (David Pattinson)Source: David Pattinson
As an ambassador for NITV's rebrand, the writer, filmmaker and businesswoman says the possibility of a shared national identity begins with embracing Indigenous cultures.
Dan Butler

3 Dec 2021 - 12:31 PM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2021 - 8:24 AM

Sasha Sarago has a go-to explanation when non-First Nations people ask her about being on Country.

"I get them to think about a place where they go to find clarity," she says.

"Where they go to find inspiration, to celebrate moments that mean something to them with loved ones."

We're discussing NITV's new brand position Reimagine Australia. It's a complex topic, one that raises plenty of strong emotions; even that title, 'Australia', can be a difficult word and concept. 

The campaign asks audiences to rethink our identity as a nation and work towards a future fuelled by the vibrancy of cultures in Australia, underpinned by 60-thousand years of traditional, resilience and strength of First Nations people.

As NITV launches its brand new look, we've invited some of our ambassadors, including Adam Goodes, Jack Charles and Sasha herself, to reflect on what being 'Australian' means to them. 

Sasha believes there is a version of a future, shared identity, one that begins with a national embrace of Indigenous cultures. 

"Absolutely, we can gain so much," the Wadjanbarra Yidinji and Jirrbal woman says. 

"How can we not benefit (from) 60 thousand years worth of knowledge and culture that no one else in the world has?"

Sasha says there is a simple first step. 

"When I think of reimagining what Australia could be, it's asking everyone to adopt the concept of connection to  Country. It’s feeling pride in knowing which Country you stand on. 

"It's like saying a prayer, giving gratitude to Country... That's acknowledging Indigenous culture."

She says for non-Indigenous folk, it should be a familiar feeling. 

"It’s like what a surfer might feel when their feet touch the sand, and they ride a wave, or the feeling for a hiker to reach the top of a mountain. 

"It's a connectedness, of being in the moment with the elements."

When reflecting on what a possible future identity, one that celebrates First Nations cultures, might look like, Sasha presents an exciting picture. 

"It would be a decolonised Australia," she says. 

"I think a lot of our troubles and issues that we're facing right now is because we’re still working from a colonial framework... when I think of Australia what comes to mind is colonial caricature.

"We fixate ourselves on to the Green and Gold, which is amazing in a sporting context, but we’re so much more than that. Is it our cuisine, is it the languages that we speak?"

"I want to be at a point where every Australian can say I'm proud of that identity.

She says there's even a shining example of this celebration of First Nations culture not far from our shores. 

"Aotearoa (New Zealand)... embraces Maori culture. There's no question. There’s a pride and acceptance. If we can adopt that way of looking at each other and embracing Indigenous culture, it can be beautiful."

It's a view that might be more optimistic than some, but it is certainly an enticing vision. Sasha says the way there is clear. 

"I think we forget that Indigenous culture is a collective culture: its not us and them, it belongs to all of us.

"Treating each other the way we want to be treated starts with connecting with Country, connecting with culture, and with each other."


NITV launches its new re-brand on 12 December.

Uncle Jack Charles, Adam Goodes, Samantha Harris, Ella Havelka and other notable First Nations people will be appearing as ambassadors as a part of the new NITV brand campaign.

The new brand and ‘Reimagine Australia’ campaign will be live across NITV and SBS channels from 5am on Sunday 12 December.

Watch the NITV live stream or see the channel's SBS On Demand collection.