In a world where social media dominates, radio has slowly and gradually retracted as a mainstream method of acquiring the latest information. However, to many extents, radio continues to remain as a conservative but effective way to provide a channel of voice in the digital age. It remains a more intimate way to convey news and information, given that the audience listens to the broadcaster, rather than reading off a screen. It also serves as an easy-to-reach way for various multicultural and linguistic groups to share stories, culture and news with their communities, whom may be geographically distanced, and where services such as internet are scarce.
In Australia, multicultural radio broadcasting was established in 1975, and continues to perform strongly to the current day. Today, multicultural and ethnic radio broadcasting is represented by the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council - the peak organisation representing ethnic community broadcasters across Australia.
During the past weekend from 24 - 26 November, NEMBC held its Annual Conference in Canberra. On invitation, two youth representatives from the Academy participated at this year’s conference; one as the elected Tasmanian Youth representative of the NEMBC Youth Committee, and one as a representative of the Hobart FM radio station.
The conference was attended by many political, social and community leaders, including Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia, the Hon. Tony Burke MP; ACT Minister of Multicultural Affairs, Hon. Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA; former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs; Director of Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia, Dr. Emma Campbell; pioneering indigenous campaigner and renowned Aboriginal elder, Aunty Matilda House; and many others.
Over the three-day conference, keynote presentations, panel discussions and workshops focussed on the importance of community radio as a means effect and create change on a small and big scale, from a local, regional to national scale. Through shifting attitudes, changing perceptions and confronting stereotypes via the means of radio, social cohesion can be reignited, particularly in societies which have seen multiculturalism come under scrutiny.
During workshops, attendees exchanged positive and educational experiences to assist and encourage others in promoting and advocating for social inclusion and the strengthening of multiculturalism. As Aunty Matilda House reminded us in her Welcome to Country speech, “Good leadership means shar[ing] and respect[ing] the cultural heritage and legacy”. To be admirable leaders of any society, embracing and respecting cultural values are essential. It is important to look in the past to nurture the future.
Australia’s future is looking more culturally and linguistically diverse than ever. As a nominee of the 2017 ACT Young Australian of the Year and keynote speaker at the NEMBC Youth conference said, “Australia was considered multicultural decades ago, and now the youth have a role to safeguard it” . The conference highlighted the importance of youth, and in particular, those with ethnic backgrounds, and the mission they shoulder, in respecting and continuing the rich diversity of cultures that Australia continues to embody today and into the future. Undoubtedly, senior members of the community will continue to guide and lead the younger charge.