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Indigenous perspective in Australian media gets major boost with Professor Bergmann appointment

David Prestipino -

The representation of First Nations people and issues across the country's media landscape will be enhanced after Media Diversity Australia appointed prominent Indigenous business and community leader Wayne Bergmann to its board.

Professor Bergmann, a Nyikina man, is a former chief executive of the Kimberley Land Council and current managing director of Leedal Foundation and executive chairman of National Indigenous Times. His role will be to help promote Indigenous perspectives in mainstream Australian media.

Regarded as a leading advocate for Indigenous self-determination through economic empowerment and opportunity, Prof. Bergmann accepted the appointment as Australian representative on the international organisation's non-executive board.

Media Diversity Australia founder and chair Isabel Lo said the appointment came at a critical time for MDA.

"We are delighted and honoured to have Wayne, a proud Nyikina man, join the MDA board," she said.

"Centering and promoting Indigenous perspectives in mainstream Australian media is as important than ever, post-referendum.

"At a time when Australian journalism is undergoing upheaval over its coverage of the Middle East conflict, and its role in the referendum outcome, Wayne's leadership and insights will be crucial in continuing MDA's advocacy work."

MDA was established by journalists Isabel Lo and Antoinette Lattouf in 2017, who envisioned a media landscape truly representative of culturally-diverse voices that celebrated their diversity and successes.

Earlier this month, MDA chief executive Mariam Veiszadeh was named Australia's most influential young Asian-Australian at the Asian-Australian Leadership Awards.

"When social injustice smacks you in the face, you have no choice but to tackle it head on," Ms Veiszadeh said after the honour.

"Working alongside media executives, we work towards a media landscape that looks and sounds more like the Australia it seeks to serve."

Her accolade came as new data showed ethnic minorities received half as many call backs from recruiters than applicants with English names when applying for jobs.

Ms Veiszadeh has been at the forefront of advocating for systemic change across Australian media since her appointment at MDA.

"My career trajectory has only been partly deliberate. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and tackle injustice, but I didn't consciously sign up to become an anti-racism advocate, engage in human rights work, become an inclusion practitioner or be appointed as a CEO," she said.

Asialink CEO Martine Letts said one in five people in Australia have Asian cultural heritage yet only 3 per cent of senior management positions are held by Asian-Australians.

"It's not only in the boardroom where this bias exists, it extends to all industries," he said.

"If overseas markets are more attractive to talent from multicultural backgrounds, we risk losing our best and brightest."

Recent data from leading executive search firm Johnson Partners found 93 per cent of board members on ASX-listed companies were either of Anglo-Celtic or European background, while 94 per cent of top CEOs were of white Anglo-Celtic or European heritage.

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