Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

The National Remote Indigenous Media Festival is First Nations Media Australia’s major industry event celebrating achievements and supporting the training of the remote Indigenous media sector. Each year the festival location alternates between remote desert and coastal communities to make it as accessible and relevant for its participants as possible. With the annual change in locations comes the need to source funding.

First Nations Media Australia, formerly known as the Indigenous Remote Communications Association is the peak body representing and supporting the media and communications needs of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The organisation advocates for community-focused broadcasting, providing tools, networks and resources to support Indigenous media organisations and workers to upskill and build their capacity.

First Nations Media Australia secured $5,000 from FRRR’s Small Grants for Rural Communities program, funded by The Pratt Foundation, to purchase iPads, mobile phones and software to help deliver one of the 2017 festival’s key workshops, Working with Mobile Devices.

More than 100 remote Indigenous media outlets and industry partners from across Australia gathered in the community of Irrunytju (Wingellina) on Ngaanyatjarra country – about 1,700 kilometres north east of Perth near the borders of Western Australia and South Australia for an action-packed week-long industry event.

The festival provided an opportunity for delegates to work together toward innovative solutions for the challenges faced by the remote media sector, connecting people, places and stories across the country to strengthen culture, identity, and well-being. It involved industry forums and skills development workshops led by inspiring trainers and facilitators, and in the evenings, time was spent enjoying, acknowledging and celebrating local culture and talent, including movies, music and award presentations.

Some great work was produced during the workshop, including a high-quality animation entitled 7 Sisters, which was created by trainees and showcased at the final day’s workshop presentations to much acclaim by delegates. In most cases, participants were able to work independently after the initial training.

This small grant helped more than 100 people from remote Indigenous communities and media organisations to gain meaningful training and industry knowledge from experienced trainers and Indigenous leaders. Participants left inspired, enthused and more confident about their work in the sector.

Examples of completed work can be viewed on https://firstnationsmedia.org.au/.

Despite the recent rain along much of the Eastern Seaboard, just a couple of hours inland our farmers and regional communities are still in the midst of a crippling drought. FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT) program was launched last year to help communities across most of Queensland and the New South Wales Northern Tablelands to access the resources they need to support community based activities that both help to relieve current stressors and symptoms, but most importantly, build capacity and resilience for the future.

TTTT Wallangra festival performance
Photo: The Inverell Times
Festival demonstrates community resilience

The Wallangra Recreation Reserve Trust secured a $50,000 TTTT grant funded by the Yulgilbar Foundation to run the ‘Not Quite Baroque (Broke!) festival in Wallangra, 650 km north of Sydney in northern New South Wales. The two-day event celebrated the resilience of several small bush communities, involving a series of creative art and music workshops for local school children, workshops for adults and a music concert for the whole community.

The Inverell Times reported that the money was used to transform the Wallangra Hall into a fresh performance venue, triggering a series of art and music workshops, host a TED talk series and put on a concert of immense local talent.

A positive outlook for the future

The festival has now been declared inaugural, with all organisers and participants firmly committed to making this happen next year.

Event co-founder Helen McCosker felt the community had been energised and encouraged pursuit of events to re-invigorate people. 

“They just need to come together and really work out a real plan, and real way of pushing their community to a point that there needs to be changed, and it needs to happen,” she said.

“And it can be done; it’s all possible. And we did it. It’s amazing. And we’ll keep doing it.”