The Washington Post Sunday

Indigenous Australian journalist steps down, cites ‘vile’ racist abuse

- BY FRANCES VINALL

bathurst, australia — A high-profile Indigenous journalist is “stepping away” from his role at Australia’s public broadcaste­r, citing “vile” and “relentless” racism he and his family have experience­d, especially after he made critical remarks about the British monarchy’s role in colonialis­m during a panel discussion about King Charles III’s coronation.

Stan Grant is a well known and widely respected TV journalist who hosts the Australian Broadcasti­ng Corp.’s “Q+A,” a town hall-style show. In a column published Friday on the ABC website, he said that he would finish this Monday’s show, “then walk away. For how long? I don’t know.”

“On social media my family and I are regularly racially mocked or abused,” he wrote. “This is not new. Barely a week goes by when I am not racially targeted.”

“My wife is targeted with abuse for being married to a Wiradjuri man,” he added, naming the Indigenous people from the central part of New South Wales state.

He also criticized the broadcaste­r for a lack of support.

“I am writing this because no one at the ABC — whose producers invited me onto their coronation coverage as a guest — has uttered one word of public support,” he wrote. “Not one ABC executive has publicly refuted the lies written or spoken about me. I don’t hold any individual responsibl­e; this is an institutio­nal failure.”

Grant said the ABC had lodged a complaint with Twitter about racial abuse targeting him.

His announceme­nt comes at a pivotal year for Australia’s relationsh­ip with its Indigenous population. The nation is preparing to vote in a constituti­onal referendum which, if successful, will establish a representa­tive “Voice to Parliament” of First Nations leaders. The body would consult with national lawmakers on policy, but its advice would be nonbinding.

By many measures, Indigenous Australian­s are more disadvanta­ged than other Australian­s. They have an average life expectancy that is around eight years shorter and are the world’s most imprisoned population. Indigenous children are 10 times more likely to be taken into state care.

Grant has received a wave of abuse about his comments on the monarchy during a May 6 panel preceding the coronation, despite the fact that other panelists also criticized the monarchy and its continuing role as Australia’s head of state.

Grant said he had “pointed out that the crown represents the invasion and theft of our land.”

Australian­s have in recent years increasing­ly debated how they should view British colonialis­m. The country’s national day is Jan. 26, which marks the landing of the first fleet of British convict ships in 1788. But tens of thousands also use that date for nationwide “Invasion Day” protests — pointing out that Indigenous history in Australia goes back at least 65,000 years, calling for the date to be changed out of sensitivit­y and for an improvemen­t in the racism and disadvanta­ges Indigenous people face.

“In the name of the crown my people were segregated on missions and reserves,” Grant wrote. “Police wearing the seal of the crown took children from their families. Under the crown our people were massacred.”

The panel was labeled “bile” by radio talk show host Ray Hadley, who was quoted in the Australian, a newspaper owned by the Murdoch family’s News Corp. Another radio talk show host, Neil Mitchell, was reported as saying that “somebody in the ABC needs to be accountabl­e” for airing “all this bitterness about our Indigenous history” during the lead-up to the coronation. The piece was one of several in conservati­ve media outlets targeting the panel and Grant’s comments.

News Corp. did not immediatel­y respond to an emailed request for comment. A spokespers­on for Nine Entertainm­ent, which employs Hadley and Mitchell, said it had no comment and “would make no assumption­s” about Grant’s comments.

Journalist Osman Faruqi, who has also worked at the ABC, supported Grant’s comments and criticized the broadcaste­r’s work culture for non-White staff.

“Before I started my first role with the ABC back in 2018, almost every non-white person who had worked at the organizati­on advised me against taking a job there,” he wrote in an opinion piece for the Age newspaper. “They cited story after story of overt racism from colleagues, managers and the audience.”

“When I did start, and encountere­d many of the same issues I was warned about, there were a handful of older, experience­d colleagues from non-white background­s who did their best to help the rest of us out,” he added. “One of those was Stan Grant.”

Sami Shah, another Australian journalist who has worked for the ABC, wrote on Twitter that “half the ABC execs reading this will call him ungrateful and a sook” — an Australian term for a crybaby — “and ‘hard to work with’. The other half will commit to doing better, oversee an internal review, then move on after a PowerPoint deck is compiled.”

In a response to a request for comment, the ABC said it “has a zero-tolerance approach to racism in the workplace” and that any issues raised are investigat­ed.

In a statement after Grant’s announceme­nt, ABC news director Justin Stevens said the ABC stood by Grant and “condemns the attacks directed toward him” after the coronation panel.

“The responsibi­lity for the coverage lies with ABC News management, not with Stan Grant,” he said. “Yet it is he who has borne the brunt of a tirade of criticism.”

Grant has decades of experience, including more than a decade with CNN, where he covered China as a senior correspond­ent. He is also the author of several books including “Talking To My Country,” a memoir and discussion of Australia’s relationsh­ip with race. His latest is called “The Queen is Dead: The Time Has Come For a Reckoning.”

 ?? GRAHAM DENHOLM/GETTY IMAGES ?? Stan Grant’s critical remarks on the British monarchy in a panel discussion before King Charles III’s coronation led to more attacks.
GRAHAM DENHOLM/GETTY IMAGES Stan Grant’s critical remarks on the British monarchy in a panel discussion before King Charles III’s coronation led to more attacks.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States