Awaken panel reflects on First Contact


Next week SBS and NITV both screen First Contact with well-known Australians experiencing Indigenous communities, hosted by Ray Martin.

Immediately following the first episode journalist Catherine Liddle will discuss the show with a panel of leading Indigenous figures on Awaken.

Guests include leading academic Shane Houston, award-winning author Thomas Keneally, Black Comedy icon and writer Aaron Fa’aoso, artistic director Lydia Miller, and Shireen Morris from the Cape York Institute.

Host Catherine Liddle says: “First Contact returns to our screens and it seems Australians are still struggling to understand our First Nations people. By bringing together these powerful Indigenous representatives, we can reflect and discuss in-depth the incredible stories and lives of those in remote Aboriginal communities, and provide greater understanding of Indigenous life to a broader audience.”

Having spent much of his life forming Indigenous policy, during the discussion Shane Houston, says: “All of the evidence tells us that too few Australians actually get an opportunity to get to know Aboriginal people, to experience Aboriginal life – to understand the complexity and the challenge of it.”

Indigenous Australian actor Aaron Fa’aoso, adds: “It’s so important First Nations people are being able to have platforms to be able to engage not only to showcase our culture, heritage and songs, but to have a platform where we are able to share.”

Esteemed author Thomas Keneally, echoes: “Every individual Australian needs to have an experience, when the view of the history is reversed. Everything you thought you knew is cast up in the air, and that hasn’t happened with white Australia sadly.”

With an established career in the arts and as a Kulu Yalanji woman Lydia Miller, says: “We should have memorials in this country to the conflict that happened so we can actually have markers to enable us to really go beyond what we’ve had to deal with and into a future that we can build together.”

Policy Advisor and Constitutional Reform Research Fellow, Shireen Morris, adds: “So many Australians are estranged and dispossessed from our most ancient of heritage. I think [this program] shows we need so much more of that [contact and dialogue] accessible to all Australians, to be able to connect to our shared Indigenous heritage because it’s the heritage of all Australians.”

The second season of documentary series First Contact sees six well-known Australians with different opinions, immersed into Aboriginal Australia for the first time as they embark on a 28-day journey, which is at times confronting, emotional and uplifting. By presenting an Indigenous perspective on issues explored in the program, Awaken provides greater context for this important national conversation, on the home of First Nations storytelling, NITV.

First Contact airs over three big nights – Tuesday 29 November, Wednesday 30 November and Thursday 1 December – simultaneously at 8.30pm on NITV and SBS. Prior to the First Contact broadcast, NITV’s news and current affairs show, The Point, airs at a special time of 8pm over these three nights.

Tuesday 29 November at 9.30pm, on NITV.

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