Successful TV presenter and producer Karla Grant recounted her experiences with racism while speaking at this year’s Women in Media Conference on the Gold Coast.
The two-day conference held over the weekend aims to equip, elevate and empower women working in the Australian media industry.
The event offers a range of inspiring information sessions which address industry issues such as racism, sexism, gender pay gaps and job shrinkage.
During the event, Ms Grant, a proud Arrernte woman, spoke openly about the racism and sexism she had encountered over the years.
Ms Grant had just come from a trip to Alice Springs where she said a police officer had harassed her after suspecting her to be a grog runner.
The revelation led Ms Grant to admit that after many years of herself and her family being racially targeted, she still lived in fear of police.
Ms Grant said it was important for Aboriginal people to be telling their own stories because for too long, non-Indigenous people had been telling them.
“We see things through a different lens because it’s lived experience and non-Indigenous people don’t know what it is like to walk in our shoes, to have family members who are picked up by the cops or family who are always sick,” Ms Grant said.
“We die at a younger age than the rest of the population, all these things affect us.”
Ms Grant, who is best known as the host of the award-winning Indigenous current affairs program Living Black, said what kept her going was ensuring Indigenous people had a platform to talk about the issues that affect them and the solutions that they have.
“I’m very passionate about telling stories and giving our people a voice and a platform because our people don’t really have that, particularly in the mainstream media they don’t have [opportunities] to talk about their issues or things that matter to them,” Ms Grant said.
“If we didn’t have NITV or programs like Living Black and the new program I have called Karla Grant presents, we just wouldn’t have a voice.”
Ms Grant said she was proud a lot of young Indigenous journalists were entering the industry and she would love to see more Indigenous women on TV.
“When I started out there weren’t any. I can’t name one female Indigenous journalist that I could look up to,” Ms Grant said.
“The people I looked up to were Jana Wendt, Liz Hayes and Tracy Grimshaw who were on television when I was growing up and I aspired to be them because I couldn’t see anyone else that looked like me on television.”
“If you did see an Aboriginal person on television they were portrayed in a negative light, in roles on television programs where they were the victims or the savages and that sort of thing. You didn’t see anything positive – only negative.”
Indigenous people have long feared talking to non-Indigenous journalists due to negative news reporting and stereotypical views portrayed by some mainstream media organisations.
Ms Grant said thankfully the tide was changing and we currently have female Indigenous journalists working in mainstream media.
“We have Brooke Boney at Channel Nine and Narelda Jacobs at Channel 10 and we are starting to infiltrate other areas in the mainstream,” Ms Grant said.
“By being there and being an Indigenous person in a newsroom you can have an impact, you can educate people and raise awareness.”
By Jade Bradford