First Nations Media Australia has compiled an overview of the positions of politicians and parties relevant to First Nations broadcasting and communities in the lead-up to the 2019 Federal election. It does not seek to cover all Indigenous Affairs policies, but only those most relevant to our sector. Nor does it attempt to provide a comprehensive history of policy positions from any party. This policy tracker is merely a snapshot of the current positions of the people standing for election in 2019 based on policy statements, media releases, public statements. The policy tracker focuses on stated policy positions and pledges with specific connection to the First Nations media sector. It does not include ‘in-principle’ supporting statements, broad concepts or funding support for localised, individual projects. This policy tracker should not be taken as First Nations Media Australia’s endorsement of any person, party or policy. The policy tracker is intended to provide a fair representation of policies that could potentially impact our members, influence the future of our sector and connect with our 9 Calls for Action.

We welcome your input. We’re doing our best to keep across policy announcements as they are made, but we’re a small team and we may have missed something! If you see a policy that should be included here, please let us know. Suggest a policy by emailing Claire at

Media & News Reporting

The First Nations media sector is calling on Government to support 9 Calls for Action. This section summarises commitments to support our 9 Calls for Action during the next term of Government and other relevant media policies supporting community media, public media (ABC & SBS) and media policy.

Labor’s Fair Go for First Nations plan includes a commitment to progress First Nations Media’s nine calls for action in partnership with the sector, but does not detail expected funding allocations. The plan acknowledges, “First Nations Media provides First Nations People with a voice, control over their own representation, local employment and services that support social wellbeing in communities. First Nations Media has a strong and proud history, but government policy and funding has not kept up with changes in the sector.”

Labor’s Plan for Australia’s Creative Economy includes a commitment to “Progress First Nations Media 9 Calls for action in partnership with the sector.”

Labor’s Fiscal Plan includes a $3m commitment over 3 years for First Nations media.

Labor will invest $7 million on a strategy to improve connectivity in remote Indigenous communities as part of Labor’s broader $245 million investment to improve regional connectivity. $2 million of this funding will be allocated to support First Nations media with upgrades to broadcasting, transmission and digital networking equipment.

Labor will provide the ABC with $2 million to help switch shortwave radio back on across the Northern Territory.

Labor values democratic and accountable government demands the highest standards of transparency and probity in the conduct of government and public services. It creates a vital role for our public media and broadcasting in informing and educating citizens.

Labor will ensure Australia has the regulatory processes and industry structures to support a strong, healthy, responsible and independent media operating in the public interest.

Labor will pursue policies to ensure Australians have a diverse range of information and opinion in Australia’s media.

Labor will invest in public services and institutions, the community sector, our national and community media and broadcasting infrastructure.

Labor regards community broadcasting, which includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, radio for the print handicapped, LGBTIQ-focused, faith-based, and ethnic and multicultural broadcasting, as an essential component of Australian broadcasting meeting the needs of many diverse communities, and will continue to encourage its growth and development.

Labor believes community broadcasting’s access to multiple distribution platforms must be provided on a basis of parity with the national and commercial broadcasting sectors wherever it is practical to achieve; available on a free-to-receive basis; and affordable to community broadcasters.

Labor will provide adequate funding to ensure the effective ongoing operation and development of community broadcasting.

Labor will adequately resource the Australian Communications and Media Authority and give it sufficient regulatory powers to maintain appropriate community standards.

Labor believes the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), including National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Television (NITV), are among Australia’s most important public institutions. Labor will properly fund and support Australia’s public broadcasters, to enable them to provide Australians with high quality broadcasting and digital media services, free from political and commercial interference.  Labor supports the independence of the ABC and the SBS. The ABC and SBS should be maintained as independent and comprehensive national public broadcasters, catering for a diversity of interests in the Australian community. Labor will never privatise our public broadcasters.

Labor will provide significant and increasing triennial funding to the ABC and SBS so they can deliver quality public broadcasting services. Labor’s Plan for Australia’s Creative Economy includes $84 million to reinstate funding cuts to the ABC and $10 million to support ABC local and regional media services (over 3 years).

Labor will ensure public broadcasters cater to the needs of urban, regional and rural Australia, providing coverage of local news, current affairs and community activities, including production capacity in regions; provide programs and services relevant to young Australians; produce high levels of quality and distinctive local content; work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide services and programs relevant to them and their communities; provide comprehensive coverage of a broad range of sporting and artistic activities.

Labor will ensure the national broadcasters are able to exploit the potential of new technology to deliver attractive and innovative content.

Labor will cut the regional publishers fund.

Labor’s Plan for Australia’s Creative Economy includes $4 million to strengthen Australian languages.

The Coalition Government currently provides support for the First Nations media sector through funding to the ABC, SBS and Community Broadcasting Program administered by the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF). No change to this status (or additional funding) is expected following the election.

The Coalition Government has invested $3.2 million to enhance the community radio sector’s national news service. This funding is administered by the CBF and has been allocated to the CBAA to manage the project.

As part of the Strengthening Australia Media policy, the Greens will increase and index annual funding for First Nations media to $30m per annum (up from $21m currently).

The Greens will move to provide for a separate broadcaster license category for First Nations broadcasting and to make the necessary regulatory changes for spectrum allocation and codes of practice.

As part of the ‘A Creative Australia’ arts policy, the Greens will commit $2 million for First Nations content creation.

The Greens will provide additional surety for community broadcassters by guaranteeing future funding for the community broadcasting sector beyond a 12-month funding cycle, locking in five years’ worth of funding so these broadcasters can plan adequately.

The Greens will support community radio with an indexed $1.4 million in funding for digital transmission, which will support the 37 metro-wide community radio services across Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.

The Greens will restore funding cut from the ABC’s budget since 2013, and grow the ABC’s funding year-on-year to account for those years of chronic underfunding.

The Greens will amend the ABC Act to create a standing appropriation – meaning that funding of the ABC is law, not subject to the whim of the government of the day.

The Greens will support independent media by ruling out ABC iView and SBS On Demand being placed behind a paywall and phasing out advertising on SBS, committing $130m over the next three years to phase out in-program advertising on the SBS.

The Greens will support independent media by ruling out ABC iView and SBS On Demand being placed behind a paywall and phasing out advertising on SBS.

The Greens will prioritise stronger media diversity with a comprehensive plan by:

• Establishing an inquiry into breaking up current media concentration

• Implementing a suite of policies designed to encourage diversity, support public interest journalism and act for a digital age.

Strengthen the ACMA’s powers, particularly in relation to community safeguards.

Call for an independent inquiry into social media and digital platforms.

The Greens will call for a Productivity Commission to conduct a review of the health of our news media and make recommendations about what role the Commonwealth can and should have in ensuring that health.

The Greens will implement a new public interest test, which would apply to changes in control of nationally significant media enterprises.

The First Nations media sector is calling on Government to support 9 Calls for Action. This section summarises commitments to support our 9 Calls for Action during the next term of Government and other relevant media policies supporting community media, public media (ABC & SBS) and media policy.

The Greens swill ask the ACCC to investigate new rules to govern advertising regulation in the digital age, based on the rules that govern transactions in financial markets to improve accountability relating to digital news services.

Introduce deductible gift recipient status for public interest journalism and tax deductible news for all Australians.

The Australian Progressives have pledged to support all 9 of our sector’s Calls for Action should any of the 5 candidates they have standing in the ACT and Queensland be elected to Parliament.

The Science Party has pledged to support for our sector’s calls for action as it aligns with party policy on progressing a Treaty.

Sustainable Australia believes Australian governments should better support the arts to allow all Australians to fulfil their creative potential. Their arts policy commits to support more local film and television production. Their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy commits to more rigorously protect and recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture.

Sustainable Australia commits to better distribute ABC resources into regional and rural coverage to both provide a voice for a fair share of government services and to educate city-dwellers as to regional and rural issues.

Some of the individual candidates for the United Australia Party have also indicated they will support our Calls for Action if elected, however there is no party-wide policy relating to First Nations media as part of the platform at this stage. Those individuals are Nathan Murphy, candidate for MacArthur, Duncan Dean, candidate for La Trobe and Paul Creighton, candidate for Forde.

The United Australia Party vision for Australia does not mention media, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or digital inclusion at all.

Indigenous Employment and skills development

First Nations Media Australia, in partnership with the Jambunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, has developed an Employment & Skills Development Strategy to support increased meaningful employment within our sector. This section outlines the policy positions of political parties in relation to employment and skills development.

Labor’s Fair Go for First Nations includes support for TAFE and apprenticeship programs, particularly for youth.

Labor will abolish and replace the harmful and ineffective Community Development Program (CDP) and co-design a new community driven program to increase economic opportunities and jobs in remote communities.

Increase Indigenous procurement targets.

Double the number of Indigenous Rangers over five years to over 1,670. This includes a funding commitment of $170 million over four years.

Labor will help develop cultural enterprise economies based on recognition, cultural governance, sustainable enterprise and conservation, to create meaningful jobs and generate income.

Labor is committed to ensuring the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce is engaged in fulfilling employment with the standard conditions and wages afforded to other Australian workers.

Labor commits to supporting First Nations peoples, their communities and organisations by creating jobs where employment is subject to at least the minimum standard conditions of employment afforded to all other Australian workers, including occupational health and safety protections and access to workers compensation. Further, Labor commits to ensuring First Nations peoples will have universal access to appropriately resourced employment training and support services regardless of their geographical location.

Labor will support procurement opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ businesses and otherwise supporting the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business sector. Labor will work with communities and businesses to develop economic, employment and training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including in remote communities.

Labor’s Plan for Australia’s Creative Economy includes $11 million over 3 years for Indigenous theatre.

The Liberal party takes a ‘place based’ approach to regional development. This means resources will be targeted to specific areas, such as Barkly, Hinkler and Albury/Wodonga to stimulate economic growth.

A recent example is the announcement of a $255,000 grant for Stirling to establish an Indigenous-owned and operated mining company.

The Liberal party has committed to tackling high youth unemployment with an industry training hub in Alice Springs.

The Coalition will invest $15 million into the creation of five more Regional Study Hubs, which aims to support university students to stay in their local communities.

John Hassell, WA candidate for O’Connor is supportive of initiatives that create meaningful jobs in remote and regional communities.

The Greens want genuine opportunities for First Nations employment and enterprise development in remote, rural and urban communities and an end to disempowering work for the dole measures.

The Greens want Governmental policies and practices to respect the right of First Nations peoples to self-determination, improvement of their social and economic conditions, to participate in decisions that affect them and to freely determine their development policies. This includes equality of access to essential services and development opportunities.

The Greens want equality of outcomes for First Nations peoples on all major indicators of education, training, housing, community safety, employment and living standards within a decade, and to fully close the gap in health outcomes by 2030 within a framework which acknowledges the diverse aspirations of First Nations peoples.

Larry Crouch, United Australia Party candidate for Ryan will support initiatives that improve employment and skills development outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Angelina Zubac, candidate for Kooyong is supportive of all initiatives designed to close the gap.

Sustainable Australia commits to providing greater employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly those that facilitate their ongoing relationship with the land and natural environment. One example would be via more prominent resourcing of an enhanced national ‘sustainability army’, included in their environment policy.

Sustainable Australia commits creating greater employment opportunities and cultural recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This includes  establishing trial ‘job guarantee’ programmes (especially for youth and the long-term unemployed) that includes opportunities for employment and training in conservation land management in regional and First Nations communities.

Digital Inclusion

Digital inclusion is recognised as one of the key social justice challenges facing policy makers and communities worldwide. It is about using technology as a channel to improve skills, to enhance quality of life, to drive education, access employment opportunities and promote social and economic wellbeing. In 2019, digital inclusion equates to social inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, and is essential to our media landscape.

Labor will invest $26 million in regional skills development hubs.

Labor will provide funding to improve remote Indigenous telecommunications and broadcasting to help address digital literacy, improve access to basic services and address the digital divide in remote communities.

Labor will provide $4 million for audio description at the ABC and SBS to deliver 14 hours of audio described TV content per week, starting in 2019-20. Australia is the only English-speaking OECD country without audio description. This will give more Australians access to our public broadcasters.

In its response to the Regional Telecommunications Review, the Coalition Government acknowledged the need to develop an Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan, but no funding commitment has been made yet.

The Greens believe that access to digital technologies is now vital component to economic and social inclusion and that a comprehensive digital inclusion policy must be implemented to address issues of access, affordability and digital ability.

The Greens will make access to all government websites un-metered (free of all data charges).

The Greens will expand the availability of free public internet access by investing in community hubs.

The Greens will support accessible communications through:

  • Investing $58 million over four years to advance captioning, audio description, relay and translation services, and access to Auslan, as well as pursuing the necessary regulatory amendments, and;
  • Establishing a National Disability Telecommunications Service, providing a national resource for telecommunications products and services information, training, and support at a cost of $3.5 million over four years.

No specific policies found.

Remote & Regional Telecommunications access

First Nations Media Australia is a strong advocate for broadband for the bush, regional connectivity and remote telecommunications. This section details commitments made to support remote and regional telecommunications during the next terms of Government.

Labor will invest $245 million to improve regional connectivity.

This includes:

  • $160 million to deliver improved mobile coverage through two further rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program, as well as strengthening co-location and infrastructure sharing opportunities for new mobile towers funded by the program.
  • $60 million to local projects to address regional connectivity issues by working with the States and Territories, and local government and other stakeholders, to develop Connected Community Plans. This place-based approach will help identify priorities for investment in local connectivity projects and digital literacy initiatives, including in remote Indigenous communities.
  • Empowering the ACCC to track capital investment in regional mobile networks, including 5G, to support policy analysis, program design and decision making to benefit regional consumers.

Labor will build adequate supply chains and telecommunications infrastructure and investing in research, development, innovation and extension.

In response to the Regional Telecommunications Review, the Coalition Government has budgeted $160million toward addressing mobile black spots and $60million to develop a regional connectivity program.

A re-elected Morrison Government will boost digital connectivity in regional Australia, including eliminating mobile blackspots across 1 million square kilometres by 2025 (an area larger than the size of South Australia).

Following the Universal Service Guarantee review, the Government will retain the existing Universal Service Obligation (USO) arrangements for provision of basic telephony and payphone services, while adding data services via NBN under a future USG.

The Liberal Government has secured new policy initiatives and commitments from NBN Co and Telstra to further improve services in the regions.

The Greens will ensure that families and businesses, no matter where they are, can access enough data to meet their needs at a fair price; Ensure the use of best available technologies including fixed wireless and fixed line services (with satellite the technology of last resort, where no other options are possible).

The Greens will extend the Mobile Black Spot Program at a cost of $100 million per year.

The Greens will expand the ACCC Broadband Monitoring Program to include Fixed Wireless and Satellite, at a cost of $1.8 million.

No specific policies found.