Sunrise Indigenous Child Welfare Segment Breached Television Code

Channel Seven’s Sunrise program has been found by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to have breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice during a hot topic segment on Indigenous Child Welfare on March 13th this year.

The segment was moderated by host Samantha Armytage and featured social commentator Prue MacSween discussing whether white families should be allowed to foster or adopt at risk indigenous children. This discussed stemmed from the widespread shock and disgust over the rape of of two year old indigenous girl at a property at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory in February.

What most angered people about this horrific crime was that Territory Families who are responsible for child protection had received 21 calls about problems at the property where the girl was raped over a two year period. Then astonishingly after being released from hospital in Adelaide the girl was returned to her mother who resides at the property where she was raped.

This lack of action by child protection authorities in removing indigenous children from at-risk homes led many to suspect they feared being called racist and creating another so called stolen generation. Federal Children’s Minister David Gillespie had suggested that indigenous children should be able to be adopted out to save them from rape, assault and neglect.

Prue MacSween known for her straight talking and anti-political correctness attitude said on Sunrise during the segment that removing at-risk children “no-brainer” and “Just like the first Stolen Generation, where a lot of children were taken because it was for their well-being, we need to do it again, perhaps”.

The left who view removing at-risk indigenous children as a form of cultural genocide and imperialism staged two separate protests at subsequent Sunrise broadcasts. The first was two days after the segment aired outside their Martin Place studios which Sunrise chose to obscure during their broadcast. The second one occurred in April during Sunrise’s live broadcast outside the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games by indigenous activists who had descended on the Coast as part of the Stolen Wealth Games protest.

Because the Sunrise segment contained only white people discussing indigenous welfare Sunrise host David Koch presented a discussion on the same topic the next week but instead with a panel of Indigenous experts. The ABC’s Indigenous comedy program Black Comedy aired a sketch in response to the segment with a panel of indigenous people discussing “Are White People C*nts?”

ACMA ruled on Tuesday that the segment breached the industry code because it was factually inaccurate that indigenous children could “only be placed with relatives or other Indigenous families” and that “the segment provoked serious contempt on the basis of race” for implying that “children left in Indigenous families would be abused and neglected, in contrast to non-Indigenous families where they would be protected”.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, who was one who launched a formal complaint with ACMA which led to this investigation welcomed the decision declaring that “The media should be held to account for broadcasting and promoting racism.”

Prue MacSween whose comments triggered the most outrage hit out at ACMA’s ruling on Chris Smith’s 2GB program stating “I think it’s very upsetting and disappointing… all I was pointing out was that it’s a no-brainer that if children are at risk, no matter their colour, they have to be protected,” and did not back down from her comments at all “We have to stand up and say this is not good enough, we’re not taking it anymore”.

Channel Seven has flagged its intention to appeal the ACMA ruling with its News Director Craig McPherson telling News Corp Australia “We are extremely disappointed the ACMA has seen fit to cast a label on a segment that covered an important matter of public interest, child abuse” also noting “The irony is that the very issue the commentators were critical of, that is political correctness preventing meaningful discussion and action, has come to bear with this finding”.

This ruling from ACMA that a discussion around indigenous child welfare is deemed to be racist and a breach of industry standards comes during the same week a three year old girl was raped in Tennant Creek with a 50 year old man charged and believed to be relative of the girl.

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