I recently came across a moving viral video where an Indigenous teenager created a social experiment of ‘trust’. The teen, Jasirah Bin Hitam, stood blindfolded with her arms wide open on Perth’s popular Cottesloe Beach with a sign reading; “I trust you. Do you trust me? Let’s hug.”
Jesirah said that she was motivated to raise awareness of the level of distrust towards Indigenous Australians, after learning that only 13% of Australians trust Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
After the recent BCM310 lecture on ‘Anti-racism and Dominant Media Paradigms’, this video and the accompanying statistic lead me to question how the Australian media are currently portraying Aboriginal people, and whether the media are contributing to such statistics.
As of 2010, only 9% of Aboriginal people, and 16% of non-Aboriginal Australians, believe the media present a balanced view of Aboriginal people. It has been suggested that this is in part due to the lack of diversity in Australian media, in particular the print media, which is concentrated with only three owners – News Limited, Fairfax Media and APN News and Media. With these three owners holding approximately 98% of the sector, and News Limited and Fairfax Media together holding about 88% of the print media assets in Australia, it can be suggested that the variety of original news that Australians consume daily is limited.
It is concerning to learn that 74% of media articles about Indigenous health are negative. Sure, the statistics are not great considering the current gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on such things as life expectancy, employment and prison rates. However, are the Australian media doing enough to look for positive stories to report?
Professor Fiona Stanley, of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, says extensive research suggests, “Indigenous children’s self esteem, resilience and educational outcomes depend on how they believe the dominant culture perceives their culture.” In other words, Aboriginal children will increasingly feel bad about their culture, with every negative report on Aboriginal people in mainstream media. She says positive stories “matter at many levels” to making a significant impact on the health and wellbeing on Indigenous children.
Do you think the Australian media need to make more of a conscious effort to publish positive stories on Indigenous Australians?