CBF statement on First Nations community media funding

December 23, 2021

Denise First Nations Broadcaster in the studio

In October 2021 the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) published a report prepared by Hugh Watson Consulting which outlines key reform areas for the Indigenous broadcasting and media sector.

Renewing a Vital Indigenous Voice and Community Asset – The Indigenous Broadcasting and Media Sector recognises the important role First Nations broadcasting plays in achieving the Closing the Gap priorities and delivering culturally appropriate and accessible information, particularly in remote areas.

The report, developed through consultation with the sector, identifies four reform areas to inform government policy and program decisions, and encourage collaboration within the sector and with other agencies. These recommendations include recognising the unique status of the contemporary Indigenous broadcasting and media sector through policy and legislative reform, maintaining and improving infrastructure, building skills and capabilities, and broadening and strengthening the sector’s funding base.

The CBF supports First Nations Media Australia’s response to the report’s recommendations, especially given their insights and deep knowledge of the subject matter.

However we strongly caution against recommendation 13 which specifically relates to our work:

“NIAA initiate discussions with DITRDC regarding transfer of the Indigenous grants element of the CBF to the NIAA for use on sector-wide projects”.

Our reasons for this position are outlined in the CBF’s response to the report which you can read below. They include:

  • Our new four-year agreement with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) includes specific funding for First Nations broadcasting.
  • We have a long history of providing critical funding support to the Indigenous community broadcasting sector.
  • We have rigorous processes and protocols to manage our grant programs so they best meet the needs of the community broadcasting sector.
  • Our governance oversight and peer-review grant assessment processes ensure funding decisions are culturally appropriate and relevant, informed by the knowledge and skill of Indigenous broadcasters who are working on the ground in stations and community media organisations around the country.
  • We have strong connections to the First Nations community media sector through members of our Board, committees and grant assessor team, as well as through the Community Broadcasting Sector Roundtable – a forum of community broadcasting sector peak bodies, including First Nations Media Australia.

While we disagree with the report’s recommendation regarding funding First Nations community media broadcasting, we believe that working together collaboratively to strengthen community-controlled, sector-informed decision-making about funding is the best way forward.

Read the CBF’s full statement (PDF 133KB, 1 page)


Photo: Denise on air at Wangki Yupurnanupurru Radio in 2019

Stay Informed