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SBS launches its Elevate RAP

[by Sarah Vahtola]

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True Colours, starring Rarriwuy Hick and Luke Arnold, will premiere on SBS and NITV in 2022. Image: supplied

SBS has released its Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2022-2026, during
National Reconciliation Week, outlining its commitment to increasing the prominence of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories and perspectives, including delivering more First Nations content in more than 60 languages, across the network.


In its fifth RAP, and its first Elevate RAP, SBS’s vision is to contribute to greater recognition that the knowledges and stories of First Nations peoples are enriching to everyone in a thriving, multicultural Australia. SBS is accelerating its reconciliation journey through strengthened commitments involving all parts of the organisation, with a focus on utilising its unique position as Australia’s dedicated Indigenous and multicultural broadcaster to connect the newest Australians with the Custodians of the oldest living culture on Earth.

There are only 20 organisations in Australia who have been recognised with an Elevate RAP, the highest available status from Reconciliation Australia for those with a proven track record  of championing initiatives to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and create societal change, and who are ready to take a leadership position to advance national reconciliation. SBS is one of two media organisations, alongside the ABC, to have an Elevate RAP.


Over the next four years, among its commitments, SBS will implement activities and initiatives that increase the visibility and presence of First Nations perspectives across SBS’s platforms in multiple languages, every day. These include further embedding Indigenous news and perspectives as part of SBS audio and digital services in more than 60 languages, through SBS’s TV news coverage in English, Arabic and Mandarin, and through landmark programming which amplifies national issues from an Indigenous lens.


James Taylor, SBS Managing Director, said SBS’s ability to bring communities together to
acknowledge, reflect, and celebrate First Nations cultures and achievements sits at the heart of our network’s distinctive offering, and underpins its Elevate RAP.


“Australia is home to the world’s oldest continuing culture, alongside people who have come here from every country around the world. Every day at SBS we witness the positive impact of connection across such a diversity of cultures.


“We are investing further in bringing communities together in a deliberate, innovative and
unprecedented way through our Elevate RAP, which outlines our strongest commitment to date to advance reconciliation. We’re proud to be among a select group of organisations in Australia recognised for our capacity to create change which contributes to a more inclusive Australia. We will use our position and influence to encourage other organisations to join us as we continue on our RAP journey.”


Karen Mundine, a Bundjalung woman and CEO of Reconciliation Australia, said, “On behalf of Reconciliation Australia, I congratulate SBS on its formal commitment to reconciliation, as it implements its first Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), its fifth RAP overall.


“SBS has identified a strong desire within Australia’s multicultural communities to build
connections and solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It recognises that by leveraging its unique connections and purpose to build understanding between multicultural communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, SBS can fulfill a crucial role in creating a richer, fuller expression of Australian nationhood.”


Tanya Denning-Orman, a Birri and Guugu Yimidhirr woman and Director of Indigenous
Content at SBS, added that SBS will continue to build on its legacy of breaking new ground in the way it shares First Nations stories with all Australians.


“SBS has a proud history of championing Indigenous voices – from Australia’s longest running Indigenous current affairs TV show, to landmark documentaries like First Australians, and upcoming programs like True Colours and The Australian Wars, which SBS is subtitling in multiple languages for more Australians to experience. Across SBS, and with NITV as a critically important part of the network, we provide a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to be heard, for our history to be truthfully examined, for our challenges to be explored, and our achievements to be celebrated.


“As we progress our Elevate RAP, you’ll see more Indigenous stories from Aboriginal and
Torres Strait communities shared with multicultural communities in their language, including further embedding these perspectives in news coverage across the network. We’re also increasing our investment in First Nations content and the Indigenous production sector, and in turn, the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytellers who will elevate our stories to new heights,” Denning-Orman added.


Developed through a First Nations-led and informed process, the SBS RAP will also see SBS elevate First Nations languages, provide greater access to content in-language for Indigenous communities, as well increase its investment in free education resources in First Nations languages through SBS Learn. It will also undertake a first-of-its-kind culturally-led research project which will provide comprehensive insights into the content preferences of First Nations peoples across Australia.


The RAP also includes actions designed to support SBS staff, including opportunities for
career development for First Nations employees and the implementation of industry-leading policies that reflect First Nations cultural practices.


Playing a leadership role in the community more broadly, SBS will also work with
Reconciliation Australia on projects and partnerships that propagate stronger ties between First Nations and multicultural communities.


The launch of this RAP comes as SBS prepares to celebrate NAIDOC Week across the network in July, as the Principal Media Partner for the National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony and OfficialEducation Partner for National NAIDOC Week. In December, SBS will also mark ten years since NITV joined the network and became available free-to-air to all Australians for the first time.

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