Thursday, 20 November 2014

Review #FirstContactSBS Part 2

In case you weren’t aware, please know there’s a campaign to have Indigenous people recognized in the Australian Constitution. 

It’s been going for a while now.

It has a lot of support from people from all walks of life.

If also has it’s detractors. They come in all shapes and sizes too.

So there are two other campaigns.

One is to throw out some alternative ideas to recognition. A Treaty is one idea. 

The other is to derail the Constitutional Recognition campaign.

This goal splinters again into even more objectives.


If you think that is confusing, then you are some way to understanding why some Aboriginal people do not like #FirstContactSBS. 

Politics. Conflict. Suspicion. Blackout.

If you are not aware that a writer or a spokesperson or a media identity is opposed to the Constitutional Recognition campaign then you wouldn’t get that because First Contact has some links – be they ever so faint – to the government funded Recognise campaign, that is sufficient reason to pour scorn on the show.

If you were not aware that someone had made their own documentary that failed to set the media and the community and the international interest on fire, then you might understand why they might resent the support the First Contact event has received.

If you were concerned that male on female violence within the Indigenous community is a direct threat to the status of Indigenous men and their grass roots political campaigns, I doubt you would have much support for the filmmaker who made a documentary based on historical facts, about men who are still alive.

If you were strenuously opposed to anything that Noel Pearson and other prominent Indigenous identities with mainstream support were able to achieve then you would go out of your way to belittle their supporters.

People ask me 'why are the levels of high and severe  psychological distress so high in the Indigenous community?'

I say racism. It created a layer of lateral violence. It continues to stoke the fears of those who feel their Indigenous identity is under threat because they don’t look black, or because they don’t come from the bush. Or don’t feel represented in documentaries about Indigenous Australia. Or a hundred of other reasons.

Of course the material - the outright racism expressed in First Contact - is confronting. I have heard variations of that all my life.

The first two episodes have been a journey of This is Your Life.

I lived in Karratha. It's hot, it's mining-centric and there are not a lot of Aboriginal people unless you go down the road to Roebourne.
I bookended 14 years in the NT, with a 3 year contract and a then a four year stint. I took medic teams into remote communities in 5 seater planes and slept on the floor surrounded by mould. It's the tropics? What do you expect? I've been to the camps around Alice Springs - the town camps are some of the most miserable places I have ever seen.
I come from outback NSW. My relatives lived in humpies, others in houses. Some got out, some stayed, but they have houses now.

I think there is a lot more to the conversation that First Contact has started, and whether you participate is a personal choice. I can respect people for not wanting to be involved. There are plenty of reasons not to, including not wishing to expose yourself to any more trauma.

I am making my own choices - and I am not prepared to keep doing the same things the same way. I want to try something new.

Let's keep talking!

Assessment of Episode 2: Keep watching, then go back and watch it again. These are the type of conversations I want to be a part of. Detractors of this show have the means to do something about their personal situation. Plenty don’t, so let others tell their own stories.

And Karl Stefanovic said out loud what plenty of other people having been thinking to themselves or within forums that Indigenous people are not a part of. He should be applauded for that because I for one don’t think the duplicitous talk is doing us any favours.


  1. Thanks for this post, Siv. I couldn't really see the undercurrents there, just opposing views for no apparent reason (eg. Stan Grant on the Insight special, saying to Rachel Perkins he didn't think that format could wrestle with complex issues, and I thought, but it's just supposed to be a conversation starter, right? Is that really a valid criticism?) What you've said makes a lot of sense, cheers. Thoraiya.

  2. Thank you for your comment. :)

    There's always more beneath the surface, most of which is better left there. But in this case some needed to be pulled up hard, and again, exactly why doesn't need to detailed either. But when countrymen have participated willingly in a project like this, they deserve respect. People need to be called out to park their privilege and find another way to progress their entirely personal agendas that is not to the detriment of others.