A new initiative to give people from diverse backgrounds a greater voice in Australia’s national conversation has been launched by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas in partnership with Media Diversity Australia.
Community Voices will give 12 outstanding Australians training, support, practical experience and industry knowledge to help them engage effectively with the media. These skills will strengthen their contribution to public discussion about issues that reflect their deep community knowledge or professional expertise.
The NSW program will support participants from a broad range of backgrounds, reflecting Australia’s socio-economic, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity, including different political and cultural outlooks.
Participants will work with media personalities, trainers and experts from across the industry. Over 12 months, they will be trained in different mediums including radio, TV, print and social media. Participants will also learn how editorial decisions are made, to pitch themselves to the media and manage the pressure that comes with a public profile. They will also be given opportunities to develop in live media situations.
JNI Executive Director Mark Ryan said the program would benefit both participants and the broader community.
“Community Voices will help people from a range of backgrounds and points of view participate in our national conversation, potentially developing new media talent in the process,” Mr Ryan said.
“The broader community will benefit from having a richer and more diverse discussion of the critical issues affecting all communities.”
The program is led by an experienced team including Jim Carroll, the former Director of News and Current Affairs at SBS, Antoinette Lattouf, a senior journalist at Ten and Director of Media Diversity Australia and Ky Chow, a freelance journalist and media consultant and Professional Development Director at Media Diversity Australia.
Media Diversity Australia Director Antoinette Lattouf said the Community Voices program is about both diverse faces and diverse views.
“It’s no secret that people are more polarised than ever before. We think a media that isn’t fully connected to the broader population fuels this division.” Ms Lattouf said.
“By equipping great thinkers with skills to navigate the media, Community Voices will help challenge echo chambers and elevate perspectives irrespective of where they sit on the political spectrum.”
Jim Carroll added that the program will deepen participants’ knowledge of how media works, how to shape their message or contribution on key issues, to connect with the editorial decision makers and through them reach the broader community.
“We can achieve a more tolerant and cohesive society by understanding and appreciating our differences and more importantly, what we have in common. Communication through all forms of media is critical to reaching that goal and Community Voices will allow those among the next generation of Australia’s leaders to build confidence and hone their skills.”