A television panel debate about sexual violence in remote Indigenous communities has descended into on-air accusations of racism, personal insults and protests.
It comes after a discussion about on Monday in which Kerri-Anne Kennerley, the co-host of Network Ten’s morning show Studio 10, claimed that many “Invasion Day” protesters were ignorant of women and children “being raped” in remote Aboriginal communities.
Guest panellist Yumi Stynes said: “You’re sounding quite racist right now.”
NSW Police were called on Tuesday morning in response to a demonstration of approximately 30 protestors outside Network’s Ten’s studio in Sydney.
Inside the building, the show followed up yesterday's episode by inviting former Greens MP Lidia Thorpe and Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Nampijinpa Price onto the show.
Samantha Harris introduced the guests by acknowledging that opinions were divided about Kennerley’s comments.
“I think what we can all agree on is the fact that Indigenous voices aren’t heard anywhere near enough in Australia particularly in commercial television,” she said.
“So this morning, we have two very strong Aboriginal women joining us on the panel.”
Ms Price said that Indigenous women were suffering “at the hands of our own people” at alarming rates.
“We’ve got to have these difficult conversations and we are all Australian,” she said.
“Just because someone has a different skin colour to yourself, shouldn’t mean that you should be silent on as issue that is affecting other human beings.”
Indigenous women are 32 times as likely to be hospitalised due to family violence, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Ms Thorpe said that “everyone” was missing the point about the protests on January 26.
“The rally that I attended with over 60,000 people in Melbourne weren’t calling for a change of the date,” she said.
“They were calling for an end of the injustices that Aboriginal people continue to face each and every day of our lives.”
“If you want to talk about rape and murder, we need to go back to when this country was invaded.”
Referencing a major address to the National Press Club in 2016, panellist Joe Hildebrand put it to Ms Thorpe that it was more important to prevent violence against Indigenous women “that is happening right now” rather than focus on historical injustices.
“We need to address all injustices,” Ms Thorpe said.
“What happened to us 230 years ago still impacts us today. When you have your children stolen from you, when you have your land taken away and you’re told you can’t continue to speak your language, well, that affects us as a nation of people.”
Ms Thorpe accepted Ms Price’s invitation to visit Alice Springs – to see firsthand what conditions are like – on the condition that Kennerley “give up her white privilege” and also join them. The comment drew gasps from the panel and studio audience and was labelled racist by Ms Price.
"That's not racism,” Ms Thorpe said.
“It's actually understanding the privilege you walk around with.”
Both guests were asked for their final words.
Ms Thorpe wanted more done to acknowledge historical injustices in Australia and treaty with Indigenous people. Ms Price responded differently.
“I’d like Indigenous people to step up and start condemning the perpetrators we all know exist, that exist within our communities, that exist within our own family,” she said.
“To start actually supporting the victims of abuse, understand that their rights come before this idea of culture which I think varies across the board.”