On March 14, Channel Seven’s Sunrise decided to tackle the issue of the adoption of Aboriginal children by non-indigenous Australian families.
In doing so, the presenters managed to encite extreme anger across the country through careless and insulting remarks. And now, the show’s under investigation.
The first mistake on behalf of the breakfast television program was to use an all-white panel to discuss an issue about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. The speakers included the show’s co-host Samantha Armytage and commentators Prue MacSween and Ben Davis.
Between the three of them, they spouted outrageous statements implying the Stolen Generations – that saw millions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly removed from their families from 1905 until 1969 – happened for “the wellbeing” of Indigenous people.
“Just like the first Stolen Generation, where a lot of children were taken because it was for their wellbeing, we need to do it again, perhaps,” MacSween told the nation, to absolutely no rebuttal from Armytage or Davis.
They also managed to report a smorgasbord of generalisations and mistruths.
“We need to be protecting kids, we need to be protecting Aboriginal kids and putting them back into that culture, what culture are they growing up seeing?” Davis said. “Well, they’re getting abused, they’re getting hurt and they’re getting damaged.”
Watch the Sunrise segment in the video below..
Because of this carelessness, the show is now under investigation from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) after failing to apologise for the segment – despite significant backlash.
ACMA announced on Thursday it is investigating whether Sunrise breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2015, which covers everything from classification zones (i.e. PG / M / MA15+, etc) to discrimination.
It also includes a clause that mandates:
“In broadcasting a news or Current Affairs Program, a Licensee must not include material which is likely to seriously distress or seriously offend a substantial number of viewers.”
It was NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge who lodged a formal complaint with the organisation, The Guardian reports, calling it MacSween’s comments on the Stolen Generations “highly offensive, racist and divisive’.
Speaking to The Guardian Shoebridge said:
“It has been more than two weeks and Sunrise still hasn’t apologised to First Nations people for its racist and biased commentary of the stolen generation.”
In reply, ACMA launched an investigation citing the “significant amount of community concern has been expressed about that broadcast”.
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