• Protesters rally outside Channel 7 studios Sydney to protest against Channel 7 breakfast show "Sunrise" Aboriginal adoption segment. (Crowdspark)
Blurred footage of Indigenous Australians was shown while white commentators talked about removing Aboriginal children from their families.
By
NITV Staff Writer

Source:
NITV News
13 Jun 2019 - 5:45 PM  UPDATED 13 Jun 2019 - 5:45 PM

Lawyers representing an Indigenous group who are suing Channel Seven feel confident after the TV network failed to stop the lawsuit going ahead.

Yolngu woman Kathy Mununggurr and 14 others from the remote Northern Territory community of Yirrkala are suing Channel Seven for defamation over a controversial breakfast show segment.

The lawsuit alleges that the Sunrise program defamed the applicants by playing slightly blurred background footage of them during a controversial panel discussion which aired in March 2018.

TV presenter Samantha Armytage introduced the 'Hot Topics' segment by incorrectly stating that Aboriginal children at “risk of rape, assault and neglect” could not be adopted by white families.

Conservative commentator Prue MacSween suggested they should be taken from their families "just like the first Stolen Generation" and broadcaster Ben Davis agreed.

The segment led to protests outside the show’s studio in Sydney and during an episode filmed on the Gold Coast. The offensive comments were found to be in breach of television codes of practice.

The background footage was originally filmed with consent for a health promotion in Yirrkala – a small Aboriginal community approximately 700km east of Darwin.

The Yolngu group claims that by using the footage for a segment about child abuse, Sunrise implied that they had abused, assaulted or neglected children.

They also claim Seven breached their confidence and privacy by using the footage for a different purpose than intended, and breached consumer laws by acting unconscionably.

The TV network tried and failed to strike out the lawsuit at a Federal Court hearing in Sydney on Wednesday.

Seven’s barrister Kieran Smark, SC, argued there were issues with claiming those in the footage could be identified.

Justice Steven Rares disagreed, and said Indigenous communities in remote parts of Australia, particularly the Northern Territory, were "much more integrated than the suburbs of this country".

"You've got a whole community up there, most of whom will be able to recognise each other, some of whom watch Sunrise," he said.

The judge rejected the request to strike out the claim and ordered Seven to pay the costs of the hearing.

Lawyers for the Yolgnu group described the hearing as a “victory” ahead of an anticipated trial later this year.

“There are many rounds yet to go but we are feeling confident that we’ve got a strong claim,” said Peter O’Brien, principal solicitor of O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors.

Aboriginal group launches lawsuit over 'defamatory' Sunrise show
The Channel Seven breakfast show faces the repercussions for a controversial segment about removing Aboriginal children from their families.
Sunrise rushes in Indigenous panel after train wreck show leads to protests
PR nightmare: It took six days of protests, community outrage, national criticism and a number of comedic parodies for Channel Seven’s breakfast show to finally have an Indigenous panel on the program to discuss Indigenous issues after a panel spread wrong information and one called for a second Stolen Generation.
'Leave the kids alone!': Sunrise tries to hide protesters after Stolen Generations comments
An all-white panel discussed Aboriginal adoption earlier this week, with one commentator calling for more child removals, prompting today's protest.