The Australian Press Council is looking to build more trust between Indigenous Australians and the media as it adopts its first Reconciliation Plan which aims to improve relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Council Chair Professor David Weisbrot said in a statement: “I believe it is high time for the Press Council to adopt a Reconciliation Action Plan, and the lack of one until now is a matter of some regret”.
“Many of the 900 mastheads that make up the Council have their own RAPs, but it’s very important that the organisation has its own to help guide our policies, priorities and relationships.”
The Press Council’s RAP document, which was adopted at the last full meeting of Council members and will now be submitted to the Reconciliation Council for review, focuses on relationships, respect and opportunities.
The Press Council has committed itself to:
- Encouraging membership by Indigenous newspapers, magazines and online news and current affairs sites;
- Engaging and consulting with Indigenous groups, individuals and organisations regarding the Press Council’s work;
- Promoting employment and internship opportunities for Indigenous people at the Press Council and among constituent members;
- Promoting Indigenous cultural competence among staff;
- Considering the impact on Indigenous peoples of current and proposed Standards of Practice;
- Encouraging the Australian news media to report issues of importance for Indigenous communities in a respectful way, especially those that highlight the inequality and the need to “close the gap”; and,
- Endeavouring to promote high quality reporting in relation to Indigenous peoples.
Weisbrot: “high time” for the Press Council to adopt a Reconciliation Action
Weisbrot said: “As the independent body responsible for standards-setting, complaints-handling and advocacy in relation to print and online media in Australia, and with a brief to apply its standards and carry out its activities in the public interest, the Press Council is firmly committed to embracing and reflecting the knowledge and experience of all Australians, especially Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island communities.”
The RAP has been welcomed by former editor of the National Indigenous Times Chris Graham.
“Traditionally, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities have had a very mixed relationship with media and that’s been underpinned by a paucity of trust, so it’s heartening to see an organisation like the Press Council take the lead on a Reconciliation Action Plan,” he said, in a statement.
“I think the Press Council’s RAP has a good mix of symbolic and practical goals, which is the key to a good one. I’m really proud to be associated with an organisation that takes it obligations to the nation’s most vulnerable people seriously.”
The RAP follows on from the Press Council unveiling its guidelines for the reporting on domestic violence.