African-Australians communities in Victoria remain seriously concerned about unfair, unbalanced and unjustified negative reporting about their communities in many mainstream Australian media outlets. Several Africans from the African communities’ leaders’ forum (AACLF) met Professor David Weisbrot, the Chair of Australian Press Council (APC), in Melbourne on 30 November 2016 to discuss ways to combat the misrepresentations of their communities in the media.
Professor Weisbrot listened to the concerns expressed by various attendees to the meeting. He informed the group about the role of APC, the regulatory framework governing Australian press and the available processes enabling individuals with grievances regarding media publications (newspapers and online press) to register formal complaints with APC.
After the meeting, AACLF members expressed their satisfaction with the discussions that took place. Fred Alale, the President of the Nigerian Society of Victoria, one of the organisers of the meeting stated: ” I think I can say in behalf of all who attended the meeting that it was a great success and a useful and informative gathering. As a community we have to lodge complaints with the Australian Press Council whenever we come across negative stories about the African community.
Kot Monoah, a lawyer and young leader of the South Sudanese Association of Victoria was also satisfied with the meeting and stated: “in order for us to put pressure on media organisations such as the Herald Sun and other Murdoch papers we must act! We can no longer just be angry. We must complain, complain, complain! ”
Reacting to the meeting with APC chairperson, Clyde S. Sharady, CEO of Africa media Australia, said that ‘People need to lodge formal complaints when they are unhappy with any given published media story. While outcomes of individual complaints are rarely very significant, the sum of all complaints will gradually provide data to help APC (Australian press council) and ACMA (regulator for broadcast media), including any political letters to take action that may eventually lead to change.
“The laws of this country give freedom to the media and many media outlets abuse of this liberty. They take every opportunity they have available to propagate their anti-migrant and racist philosophies and the African communities are bearing the brunt of what is simply irresponsible and unethical reporting from many right-wing media outlets”, he added.
Professor David offered to arrange some training sessions to help people within African-Australian communities to be able to lodge complaints against media organisations when they are unhappy about any given publication in the papers or online. Complaints against radio and TV publications need to be lodged with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).