The first year of our Community Voices program came to a close on Wednesday night with a celebration for our 12 participants.
The participants were joined by family and friends, JNI and Media Diversity Australia colleagues, and supporters at JNI’s Chippendale headquarters. The federal member for Sydney Tanya Plibersek was a special guest.
JNI’s Executive Director Mark Ryan said the program’s first year was a resounding success.
“We started Community Voices because we wanted to give people from diverse backgrounds the skills, experience and the support they need to engage effectively and articulately with the news media,” he said.
“Our participants are now far better equipped as advocates, and they are now known to many newsrooms and journalists and our hope is that they will continue to contribute to our national discussion for a long time to come.”
Community Voices view media in new light
2021 participant Basim Al-Ansari said his community’s views towards the media have changed as a result of Community Voices.
“We felt like we were singled out,” he said.
“We felt that the media was an enemy is several ways.”
He said the program has helped him engage with the media and give his community a greater voice, as well as encouraging them to view the media in a positive light.
Fellow participant Angelica Ojinnaka said her view of the media has also changed.
“I came in very much anxious about the media,” she said.
“It was a matter of the media understanding my community and my community understanding the media.”
The 2021 Community Voices have made more than 100 media appearance this year, across television, radio, print and digital platforms.
Program will benefit wider community
Tanya Plibersek shared her own experiences as the child of Slovenian immigrants and spoke about the need for diversity of voices in Australia’s public discourse.
“No community in Australia speaks with one voice and we shouldn’t assume they do,” she said.
“We shouldn’t dumb down our discourse and debate to pretend they do.”
Ms Plibersek said the program has given the participants an “enormous gift”, which would also benefit the wider community.
“Australian public discourse is given a great gift by your empowerment within it,” she said.