ABC Radio’s Speaking Out celebrates 30 years of giving a voice to Indigenous Australians

ABC Radio’s Indigenous flagship program Speaking Out celebrates 30 years of giving a voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the national stage.

The program, which first went to air on 1 July 1990, is the nation’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program produced and presented by Indigenous broadcasters.

Speaking Out, presented by Larissa Behrendt, features politics and culture from a range of Indigenous perspectives, underlying the ABC’s ongoing commitment to ensuring Australians embrace Indigenous cultures and stories in their daily lives.

ABC Radio Indigenous Editor Daniel Browning, a Bundjalung/Kullilli man, said Speaking Out had covered a range of topical issues over the past three decades, including key events in Indigenous affairs from the High Court’s Mabo decision, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Northern Territory Intervention and right up to the global Black Lives Matter movement.

Speaking Out has reached this milestone because of the professionalism, hard work and commitment of Indigenous staff. It has been and continues to be a feat of endurance,” he said.I want to thank every member of the Speaking Out team over the past 30 years for continuing to keep our voices and our stories on air, sometimes in very trying and difficult circumstances.”

Larissa Berhrendt, a Gamilaroi/Eualeyai woman and Distinguished Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney, said Speaking Out has been an important platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and perspectives. “This is a milestone to be celebrated as it has been a cumulative and continuous effort to ensure key issues are covered,” she said.

“The show has also been a place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander journalists and broadcasters to work on the stories that mainstream media has overlooked. It’s an important show with a long tradition that I’m so proud to be a small part of.”

Speaking Out first aired on ABC Local Radio on Sunday evenings, with Wayne Coolwell as the program’s inaugural presenter. Karen Dorante took over the role from 1998 to 2007, followed by former triple j Breakfast news presenter Rhianna Patrick.

From 2014, the program was presented by Donald Johannessen, before current host Larissa Behrendt came on board in 2016. Other past presenters include Charmaene Scott, Kerry Klimm and Stan Grant.

The hour-long program exemplifies the ABC’s commitment to champion content and initiatives that recognise and embrace Australia’s Indigenous history and cultures.

“We are wholly invested in and deeply connected to the stories we tell – these are the voices of our communities and ABC Indigenous remains committed to the telling,” Browning said.

ABC Radio Indigenous also produces the programs Awaye!, about vibrant Aboriginal arts and culture, and Word Up, about the diverse languages of black Australia.

In November 2019, the ABC released its Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-22, which includes employment and business opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and measures to build closer relationships with Indigenous communities.

The Elevate RAP also features a major new commitment that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, voices and names will be heard across the ABC and become an everyday part of the Australian vocabulary.






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