celebrity

"It's difficult to hear the pushback." Brooke Boney on the most controversial moment of her career.

Brooke Boney was at the height of her radio career when Channel 9 came calling. The popular Triple J newsreader was lured to a role as Today entertainment reporter for its new-look 2019 lineup. Aside from the profile of the show, it was the platform that attracted her. The opportunity to foster her goal of contributing to the national discourse around how Aboriginal people are viewed and see themselves.

And within a few weeks, she looked down the Channel 9 cameras and did just that.

In a short but powerful segment aired on Australia Day, the Gamilaroi/Gomeroi woman explained why she is in favour of changing the date of our national holiday: “I can’t separate the 26th January from the fact that my brothers are more likely to go to jail than they are to go to school,” she said, “or that my little sisters and mum are more likely to be beaten or raped. And that started on that day.”

Watch the full clip. Post continues after video.

Video by Channel 9

While many cheered Brooke, there was backlash from those on the other side of the debate. She knew it would come. But speaking to Mia Freedman on Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast, the 32-year-old said it was clear that, ultimately, she and her critics were coming from a similar place.

The following is a snippet from their fascinating conversation…

“I genuinely believe the things that I say, and I think that that’s why it makes it easy to say them. It’s difficult to sometimes hear the pushback. But I would say that the thing that I have in common with the people who do push back, or who do say nasty things, is that their love for this country is as deep as mine. And we just have different ways of expressing it.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I think that’s probably the most difficult thing about having expressed something so public that was so personal, because sometimes people don’t watch the whole clip; they’ll read a headline or they’ll read some comments and then make a judgment about that. And so when people said things, like that I don’t love this country or that I’m un-Australian, I feel like that’s so far from the truth. Mostly because I’m a proud Gamilaroi woman, but I’m also a proud bogan. And I think that the way that we’ve viewed Aboriginal people in the past has been that you can be one or the other.

Listen: Mia Freedman interviews Brooke Boney on No Filter. Post continues after audio.

“There are a lot of people who said things in the wash after the stuff that I said about Australia Day, who if they sat down and talked to me would be like, ‘Oh, actually we’re on the same page here, we’re actually talking about the same thing. You love this country but you just think that we need to have a discussion about this.'”

“And basically that’s that’s all I was trying to do, I think. Is just sort of say that there needs to be a moment, as a nation, where we think about the sort of country that we want to be going forward. To be able to move forward as one, we need to understand the trauma that some of the policies that have been pushed on Aboriginal people have caused. Because if you don’t acknowledge the trauma of those things and you don’t acknowledge how they affect us, then there’s no explanation for the difference in outcomes other than race. And that’s just saying that one race is better than another, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

“Like I’ve said before, this is the best country in the world, but we can be better. We can be better by not owning the things that have happened in the past, but acknowledging the hurt that they’ve caused and that it’s more difficult for some people than it is for others. And that’s not because I’m Aboriginal and someone else isn’t, or that someone else grew up poor and someone didn’t. It’s that the things that have been done to us continue to affect us.

“And that’s why there aren’t any other Aboriginal people on commercial breakfast television, because it’s a bloody hard slog. It’s not easy to overcome the things that come with being Indigenous.”

Want more Mamamia stories? Sign up to our newsletters and get our best stories straight into your inbox.

00:00 / ???