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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures

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About Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures

Media has played a significant role in shaping the dominant narratives of our culture and for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people their culture has been viewed through a predominantly ‘negative’ European lens.

Australia's first people have for many years expressed a strong desire to control their own images and stories in media but for over a century this opportunity has been rarely afforded. Portrayal of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander society through this dominant culture viewpoint is inaccurate, often condescending and reductionist. In 1991, the National Inquiry into Racist Violence concluded that Australian media had a tendency for the "perpetuation and promotion of negative and racial stereotypes, a tendency towards conflictual and sensationalist reporting on race issues, and an insensitivity towards, and often ignorance of, minority cultures", which could "contribute to creating a social climate which is tolerant of racist violence" (Human Rights Commission 1996: 3).

Over the last twenty years the success of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community media organisations, many of which were established in the 80’s in remote Australian communities, initiatives of various media training institutions, government funding schemes and the work of a number of pioneer Indigenous screen practitioners has culminated in many Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s using a variety of media as a platform for self-determination.

Profoundly Indigenous moving image creatives are now at the heart of contemporary screen practice and are using their chosen mediums to reclaim identity, promote social change and entertain Indigenous and mainstream audiences alike.

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