NITV Commissioning Guidelines

5 Dec 2017 - 4:59 PM  UPDATED 15 Feb 2022 - 11:59 AM

 NITV commissions content with the purpose — to tell premium and authentic First Nations stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for all Australians. We seek to reach the widest possible audience with our content.

About NITV Commissions

Our ambition is to support high impact First Nations stories that kick start national conversations.

NITV facilitates First Nations voices by providing strong editorial leadership for filmmakers. Our Commissions Team draws on best practice approaches to First Nations screen storytelling and is recognised for creative excellence and innovation. 

NITV attracts the best Indigenous screen storytellers and premium Australian and International partners in building a prestigious pipeline of content and talent that garner acclaim, awards and commercial success.


NITV Commissions Team

Head of Commissioning & Programming, Kyas Hepworth 

Kyas Hepworth is a cisgender Bundjalung woman who has spent her career working in the screen and creative arts sector. As the Head of Commissioning and Programming for NITV, she drives the creative direction of NITV’s distinctive offering across commissioned and acquired content and oversees NITV’s programming and scheduling to bring it to audiences. 

Kyas is responsible for the development and delivery of NITV’s acclaimed commissioned content slate, which sees the channel work with Australia’s Indigenous production sector across factual, scripted and children’s programming. This includes award-winning children’s animation, Little J & Big Cuz, the captivating series The Beach from Warwick Thornton, and NITV’s first non-children’s drama series, True Colours, coming in 2022.

Kyas joined NITV as its Senior Commissioning Editor in 2019, from the Australian Film and Television Radio School (AFTRS) where she was the Head of Indigenous. Prior to that, she was the Investment Development Manager at Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department where she helped bring TV series like 8MMM, feature film The Darkside, and documentary The Redfern Story, to international screens.

Kyas is passionate about bringing unique and diverse stories to the screen and has worked alongside and supported leading and emerging Indigenous practitioners for more than a decade. Her extensive experience in the sector also includes working across feature films, documentaries, television series and shorts.

NITV Commissioning Editor, Marissa McDowell

Marissa McDowell is a Wiradjuri woman, born in Cowra, NSW. 

Throughout her career, Marissa has worked with First Nation communities telling their stories through documentary filmmaking, photography and writing. Her documentaries have been screened on SBS/NITV, poetry published through USMOB Writing and photographs displayed at PhotoAccess and the Sydney Living Museums.

She has recently received her Master of Arts Screen Business and Leadership at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) and is currently undertaking her Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage at Charles Sturt University.

Development Executive, Chelsea Thistlewaite

Commissioning Production & Projects Officer, Chantelle Newton


What we are looking for

We aim to commission world-class Indigenous stories that are Blak, broad & entertaining with a focus on factual, unscripted, and children’s series.

We are looking for contemporary, creatively ambitious ideas based on subjects that will:

  • Engage, inform and entertain a broad audience. 
  • Open audiences to Indigenous voices across Australia.
  • Reflect our diverse First Nations communities.
  • Stories that are told from a First Nations perspective


Do I need to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander?

Two of the three key creative roles (writer, director or producer) must be filled by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.

Do I need to apply through a production company?

Yes. NITV commissions programs from independent production companies, not individuals.

If you're an individual with an idea, you’ll need to make your pitch to a production company before bringing it to NITV. 

Can I submit a proposal for development funds?

Proposals for commissioned content should be well developed as it is competitive. If your pitch bible and deck are successful, NITV is able to come in with development funds on a case-by-case basis.

Do I need a budget and a finance plan?

Yes. Your proposal should be budgeted and your application must include how you will fund your budget to complete your finance plan.


How to submit a proposal

All applications can be submitted using our online form. The form requires the following documentation;

  • One page pitch document and treatment (include Intended Audience and Genre)
  • A – Z budget (available for download from the Screen Australia website)
  • Finance Plan (available for download from the Screen Australia website)
  • CVs of key creatives (writer, director and producer)*
  • Production Schedule
  • Sizzle Reel, if available

*Two of the three key creatives roles filled by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.

NITV Commissioning invites filmmakers to submit proposals throughout the year.

The submission process

NITV commissioning decisions will be subject to the requirements of the SBS Charter, SBS Act and SBS Codes of Practice, and Editorial Guidelines.



Due to the high volume of emails we receive, we’ll acknowledge receipt of your application via the Online Portal within approximately 5 business days.

Editorial assessments of proposals will take between 4 to 6 weeks. During that time, we will read your application and make the final decision at our monthly editorial meeting.

If we have questions or need more information about your proposal, we will contact you.

Applicants should be aware of any outstanding commitments to NITV. Your application will not be considered until they are cleared. If you are unsure of any outstanding commitments, get in touch with the Commissioning team before applying.

If the proposal is successful:

If NITV decides to commission the project, the channel will enter into an agreement with you. The agreement will include the following:

  • Finance plan
  • Summary of NITV’s investment
  • Summary of the licence term
  • Drawdown schedule
  • Terms and Conditions
  • How to credit NITV
  • What assets you’ll need to deliver so we can broadcast and promote your project.


The NITV contribution to your program’s budget will usually be in the form of a presale or an upfront licence fee that gives us the right to broadcast the program on NITV. We may also make an equity investment.

The NITV contribution cannot cover the full budget for your program, so your proposal will need to identify additional sources of funding. NITV reserves the right of approval over third party sources of funding to ensure they are consistent with the SBS Charter, SBS Act and SBS Codes of Practice, and Editorial Guidelines.

Your budget and draft finance plan, including the proposed NITV contribution and other sources of funding don’t need to be confirmed but they should be realistic and feasible.

NITV will not release its contribution all at once. We will make set payments based on the drawdown schedule and project milestones. For example, we will release money on milestones such as the execution of agreement, start of shoot, rough cut delivery, picture lock, and final delivery.

Links and Resources

Screen Australia has useful resources for program makers, including those starting out in the industry. Explore them here.

The Greater Perspective — Protocol and guidelines for the production of film and television on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.


SBS Charter

SBS Codes of Practice — Policies SBS uses to guide its programming, including programming for NITV.

SBS Editorial Guidelines — The principles that guide SBS's editorial processes, including editorial responsibility, conflicts of interest, and commercial and external funding relationships. Two of these guidelines are specific to NITV, relating to in-language and children’s programming.

Screen Australia’s documents library

Screen Australia’s Screen Guide


Terms to Understand:

Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) refers to dances, songs, landscapes, stories, images and other objects that are part of Indigenous people’s cultural heritage. The right to use these in your film will have to be negotiated with the relevant community.

Clearances are documents that show us you have all the rights you need to make and screen the film. They might include things like licences or rights assignments for music or other original material that is not your own; location filming permissions; and agreements with actors or presenters. For example, you’ll need to clear all music including mechanical and synchronisation rights. We recommend that you engage a person with expertise in music commissioning and licensing to assist with this important clearance process. You are responsible for obtaining all relevant licences. The clearances you’ll need will be listed in your NITV agreement.