We Have Lift-Off!
National Indigenous Television launches in style
Celebrities and community identities black and white thronged the red carpet at the launch of National Indigenous Television (NITV) at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney last month, as the very first broadcast of Australia’s first nation-wide, 24-hour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander television service streamed live across the country through TV, radio and the internet.
The show began with a Welcome to Country given by Elders Allan and Chicka Madden, which was followed by some traditional Walpiri dance by the Yuendumu Dancers, who came to Sydney from the Northern Territory especially for the event.
After a powerful and moving speech from NITV’s CEO Pat Turner, Professor Larissa Behrendt, Chairperson of National Indigenous Television, spoke.
“Black TV is here!” she said. “Our first broadcast will be available to more than 600,000 Australians and we will premiere some of the best locally produced documentaries, sport and cultural programs.”
NITV’s main objective is to broadcast material which reflects the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders around the country.
“This launch today honours the pioneers of Indigenous film and television who paved the way for us,” Larissa said.
“Remote and urban communities across Australia have broken ground over decades by taking control of the camera, and telling our stories they way we wanted them told. We will thank them and the hundreds of people who helped realise the dream of a national Indigenous station by delivering the best creative and vibrant television available.”
Following the formal speeches, the service was officially launched by Larissa and the Federal Communications Minister Helen Coonan. The entertainment then began in earnest, as host Michael Tuahine greeted the audience before introducing Christine Anu, who performed Sunshine on a Rainy Day.
Special guests Luke Carroll, Ursula Yovich and Rachel Perkins featured on the talk show-style program, while Warren H. Williams’ performance of Raining on the Rock was followed by an impromptu appearance of Beryl and Coral from the Bigotbri Country Women’s Association.
As NITV’s first program drew to a close, red, yellow and black confetti showered the stage – a fitting celebration for a new dawn in Indigenous media which will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians the chance to share their stories, their culture and their voice with the entire nation.
To find out more about NITV, head to nitv.org.au