Recognising our Voices: Communication Rights, Cultural Diversity and New Media

NEMBC Conference Nov 2009
Andrew Jakubowicz
CCS:UTS and CulturalDiversity News
RTF of the Powerpoint used in the speech

A Beginning…
The demand for migrant workers’ rights of the 1970s
English on the job
Health and safety
Effective representation
Voicing community
Political engagement

The demand of migrant community voices
The rise and fall of ABC access radio
The difficult relationship between community and SBS radio
The rise and rise of community sector and access radio, video and TV

Thirty years after Galbally
National broadcasters
SBS professionalisation but on the nose with government?
ABC still fairly monocultural
“Amalgamation” discourse back on agenda

NEMBC important role, widespread but facing challenges of generational change, technological innovation, and especially digital radio
Intersection of policy agendas
Communication policy
Multicultural/ cultural diversity policy
Human Rights policy
Social Inclusion policy

Communication Policy
National broadband – but no mention of digital divide other than in urban/rural
ABC favoured child – but no pressure to meet charter obligations to reflect whole of Australian society
Increasing call for ABC and SBS to “share”
Removal of Australian content rules for new digital TV stations
Penetration by global media
Discourse of “community” but not of “diversity” – Conroy at CBAA 19 Nov no mention of NEMBC or multicultural diversity.

Multicultural Policy
Evolving sense of parameters: combating racism, minimising inter-communal conflict, from Harmony to Diversity
Concern for settlement and integration, employment and language acquisition: assimilationist in intent
Focus on “de-radicalisation” of young Muslim men (very gendered but not address issues of women)
Policy energy driven by Attorney General not Citizenship
AMAC due to report very soon – but with what purchase and with what impact on whole of government? And assimilationist?
International trading languages priority, not community languages – Arabic misses out

Human Rights Policy
Brennan report silent on cultural minority rights and multiculturalism: argues for slowly slowly and propose nothing that might alienate anyone
October 2009 Minister Garrett announces Australia signs UNESCO Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CPPDCE).
Identifies “five links in inseparable chain”: creation, production, distribution/ dissemination, access and enjoyment of cultural expressions.

Australia has still not signed other “pillar” of preservation and promotion of cultural diversity UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)
Cultural expressions as “vehicles of identity, values and meaning”.
“fundamental role of civil society in protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expression” (art.11)
“Promotion of specific cultural expressions by giving voice to groups such as women, persons belonging to minorities, and indigenous peoples”

Social Inclusion
“all Australians feel valued and have the opportunity to participate fully in the life of our society” (
Real difficulty in comprehending cultural dimensions of inclusion – focus on chronically poor and unemployed, even if own figures show particular role of non-Anglo immigrants as “reserve army of labour”

Multicultural and ethnic community radio can do and can play critical roles in terms of the silent spaces of the national agendas
Communication very significant as “exclusion” of cultural diversity seems to be the mode of action of national government
Look to cross-community and cross-technology alliances
Role of digital/web radio may be enhancing, may be problematic
Diverse stories are needed more than ever

CulturalDiversity News
New NGO web platform on cultural diversity
Seeking collaborations with communities on human rights, justice, arts, creation of knowledge
Internships coming up in January
Register at


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