Note: This letter from the editor was originally published in our weekly newsletter and is being republished here.
Several years ago a work colleague turned friend who had come to Australia as an international student from Thailand and whose parents were working for the United Nations said something to me that I have never forgotten.
She said, “If you judge Australians on their TV shows, you’d think the only thing they care about is cooking, home renovations and sports!”
I laughed because there was some truth in her observations, and having never cared for commercial TV, I hadn’t really thought about it until she raised it. But her observations got me thinking –and those thoughts sit with me to this very day.
The truth is, that despite Australia being a multicultural melting pot (in the cities anyway), the people who make the decisions– in media, in politics, in business– are not representative of Australia’s cultural, racial and ethnic diversity.
Australia’s ‘White Australia Policy‘ may have officially ended in 1973, but as the homogeneity of commercial TV programs indicates (and the homogeneity of media narratives too), ‘white people’ still run things; ‘white people’ still control the power.
Related Post: Eco Gentrification: Is The Green Living Movement Being Whitewashed?
Here are some stats to chew on (thanks to this brilliant new book by Australian policymaker Andrew Wear that I’m currently reading and loving):
- Less than 4% of Australian politicians have one or more parents from a non-European background (compared with the 19% of US Congress and 10% in the UK).
- Across the Australian state and federal public service, just 2% of management is from a non-Anglo-Celtic or non-European background.
- The share of company senior managers from a non-European background is just 5% and company chief executives just 3%.
- 70% of board members of Australia’s largest companies have an Anglo-Celtic heritage.
Even within the ABC, an Australian public broadcaster committed to “representing the perspectives of Australia’s many communities in [their] content and services” just 13.5% of their workforce are from non-English speaking backgrounds, when statistics show that 19% of overseas-born Australians were born in non-English speaking countries.
Thanks to the cancellation of Australia’s discriminatory immigration policies, my educated parents moved the family from the Philippines to Australia in 1985. When I reflect on my viewing habits (and that of my siblings, parents and extended Filipino Australian family) I know that the lack of relatability to those on Australian mainstream TV is one of just many reasons we rarely “tune in”. My parents (and their friends and family) actually have Filipino cable TV so that they aren’t stuck watching primetime Australian TV shows or millennial-focussed Netflix featuring people and ‘personalities’ they can’t relate to or identify with.
And it’s this lack of cultural/racial/ethnic diversity in media and within power structures that has me pondering about the effectiveness of sustainable and ethical “storytelling” and “influencing”.
How effective can it be when the ‘voices’ still seem to be highly homogenous and the topics, conversations and discussions are still dominated by a certain profile of the population?
And how can we improve the diversity of ‘influencers’ so that more people can relate, and are brought into the ‘green’ fold and feel included so that they are encouraged to be ‘influencers’ too?
If you’ve been pondering this too, and have knowledge, resources, advice and tips on improving representation in ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ storytelling, feel free to share below.
Words of the week:
“…an eco-fascist prioritizes saving the planet above those on it.” – Mary Imgrund
What do you think? Leave a comment here.
Thanks to those of you who responded to our Instagram poll about running a family household, weekly grocery spend and advice for feeding a family wholesome food on a budget. We received some great responses and wonderful tips that we’re hoping to share with other budget-conscious eco-conscious parents. If you’d like to share your tips, please shoot through an email.
Conversations happening in our ‘Women Who Love Politics’ group:
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- The coal lovers in the Australian Labor Party aka ‘Otis Group’ caught out for having secret meetings and plotting to drag Labor from a swift transition away from fossil fuels.
- A podcast episode describing how Americans keep up with political news but are more like spectators amd treat it as entertainment aka “political hobbyism” rather than using the knowledge to acquire power in order to persuade people to back issues they care about.
- The AFP warrants used to raid ABC which the court has ruled as valid leading to worries about press freedom and democracy.
- Michelle Obama’s inspiring book ‘Becoming‘.
Popular articles from our archives this week:
- 30 Things You Can Do If You’re Feeling Helpless About Climate Change
- Carbon Intensive Industries – The Industry Sectors That Emit The Most Carbon
- Eco-Ableism: What It Is, Why It Matters and How It Affects Disabled People
- Philippines Ranks Third in Air Pollution Deaths. Here’s What Needs to Be Done…
- 32 Ethical and Eco-Friendly Office and School Supplies
- 11 Eco-Friendly, Ocean-Friendly and Coral Reef-Safe Sunscreens For Outdoor Lovers
And that’s all from me. Enjoy the rest of your week peeps!
Peace, love and all that jazz,
Editor-in-Chief Jen xx
Feature image by Thought Catalog.