UON's Wollotuka Institute has helped launch a program to encourage Indigenous researchers and academics to engage with the media.

Media program launched for Indigenous experts

Wednesday, 31 August 2016


A new push to encourage Indigenous researchers and academics to engage with the media will be launched by the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC), the University of Newcastle's (UON) Wollotuka Institute and National Indigenous Television (NITV, a division of SBS) in Sydney this week.

Indigenous media mentoring program launch

Twelve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers from QLD, NSW, VIC and the ACT will be the first participants in the new Indigenous Media Mentoring Program, which runs from August 31 to September 2. The program will involve hands-on media training from Aboriginal experts and journalists, and ongoing mentoring from partnering organisations.

"When we think of Indigenous people in the media, we might remember sports stars, dancers, artists or activists, but we seldom think of researchers," AusSMC CEO Dr Susannah Eliott said.

"It's not because they don’t exist, but because they seldom seek the media limelight. Having Indigenous scientists and researchers in the media, actively engaging in public dialogue, creates role models and benefits us all," she said.

UON is a national leader in Indigenous Higher Education and its Pro Vice-Chancellor for Indigenous Education and Research, Professor Steven Larkin, said the University was proud to support this important initiative.

"Indigenous researchers at UON and across the country are making outstanding contributions. The Indigenous Media Mentoring Program will play a vital role in building Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's research profiles," he said. "Developing the skills and confidence to effectively engage with mainstream media will ensure our academics’ voices and knowledge are shared."

National Indigenous Television (NITV) channel manager Tanya Orman said the program is a "fantastic" way of preparing Indigenous researchers to be media spokespeople.

"As part of the program, the 12 researchers will receive training from NITV’s experienced journalists and broadcasters on interview techniques and online opinion writing. We want the researchers to feel confident sharing their knowledge and expertise with the world, whether that’s behind a radio microphone, in front of a camera, or on social media. The Indigenous Media Mentoring Program is a fantastic way of increasing the prominence of Indigenous people in the media."

If the program is successful, the organisers hope that it can be expanded to include more researchers and organisations.

"In the longer term, we hope the program will open doors for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research community, lead to greater visibility and recognition for the work they do and help overcome negative stereotypes of Indigenous people," Dr Eliott said.

The Indigenous Media Mentoring Program is supported with a grant from the National Australia Bank and in-kind support from the AusSMC, NITV-SBS, Wollotuka Institute, The Conversation, Ninti One, Fairfax Media, ABC and Uncanny Media.