Back in 2018, the Australian morning news program Sunrise aired a program about Indigenous people and their children.
The program, aired on Channel 7, suggested a “‘generation’ of young Indigenous children [were] being abused” and falsely claimed Indigenous children could “only be placed with relatives or other Indigenous families.”
The program prompted a complaint to the Australian broadcast regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which ultimately ruled against the program for having “provoked serious contempt on the basis of race,” as iMediaEthics has reported. “While it may not have been Seven’s intention, by implication the segment conveyed that children left in Indigenous families would be abused and neglected, in contrast to non-Indigenous families where they would be protected,” ACMA ruled.
Now, a group of 15 people from an Aboriginal community called Yirrkala are suing Channel 7 over the report because they were shown in “slightly blurred background footage,” SBS News reported.
iMediaEthics has contacted both O’Brien and Channel 7 for more information about the lawsuit. O’Brien’s office provided iMediaEthics with a press statement arguing the images of he Yirrkala residents made them “readily identifiable.”
“Our clients are extremely unhappy with having been recklessly depicted in such a negative manner” their lawyer, Peter O’Brien, is quoted as saying.
“It will be argued in the Federal Court that the context of the commentary resulted in defamatory imputations that the persons featured in the footage had abused, assaulted or neglected children, were incapable of protecting their children, were members of a dysfunctional community and were people who participated in a harmful culture,” the O’Brien press statement said. “The footage was originally filmed with the consent of those featured for the purpose of a health promotion in the community. No permission was ever given for Channel Seven to use it for any other purpose.”