‘I stand with Stan’: ABC staff protest treatment of Indigenous broadcaster05/22/2023
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ABC staff have rallied across the country in support of Stan Grant, who announced on Friday that he was standing down from hosting Q&A after being subject to a tirade of racist abuse.
Staff gathered outside the organisation’s Sydney and Melbourne headquarters, holding placards reading “I stand with Stan” and “We reject racism”, as they expressed their support for the Wiradjuri journalist ahead of his final appearance on Q&A on Monday night.
Other high-profile ABC staff, including Insiders host David Speers, RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas, former radio and TV host Fran Kelly and Melbourne radio host Virginia Trioli, also shared their support on social media.
Members of the ABC’s Parliament House bureau also took to the front of the building to show their support for Grant.
A few hundred ABC staff gathered outside the broadcaster’s Ultimo headquarters in Sydney, including Australian Story host Leigh Sales and news anchor Jeremy Fernandez. Head of Indigenous News Suzanne Dredge said her colleagues were heartbroken by Grant’s statement and his stepping back from hosting duties.
“We have thick skin. It’s OK to scrutinise us in our work if we get it wrong. But it’s not OK to come at us with personal attacks,” she said.
Stan Grant is standing down from hosting Q&A over the racial abuse directed at him on social media.Credit: Chris Hopkins
Dredge described a fresh ABC review into how the broadcaster handles racist attacks against its staff as a landmark opportunity.
“I really hope we learn a lot from this process. We have the right people to … turn the lens back on ourselves and look at what we’ve done and what we can do better.”
Grant’s children were also at the rally, and NITV journalist Lowanna Grant cried as she thanked the gathered crowd and said her family had struggled with the “disgusting filth online” directed at her father. High-profile Indigenous journalist Karla Grant, Stan Grant’s former partner, also spoke.
Speaking to this masthead, Rhoda Roberts, the first Indigenous presenter of a prime time current affairs show in Australia, said: “What’s happening with Stan now has been this enabling that it’s okay to beat people up by bringing race into the debate. The sort of terminology being used by the right… it enables people to be more toxic because they think that you can speak to Aboriginal people like this.
“I think in any organisation, executives or any non-Indigenous staff don’t actually understand the kind of lateral violence you receive, not only from the right out there, but also within your own community, and then across your own working environment. I don’t think anyone totally understands what we cop.”
The snap protest was called following a meeting of Indigenous ABC staff, in response to Grant’s announcement that he was stepping down from his duties.
Grant explained his decision in a column published on Friday, specifically citing the uptick in abuse he had received following his appearance on an ABC TV panel discussion focused on the legacy of the British crown in Australia, held before the coronation for King Charles III.
“On social media my family and I are regularly racially mocked or abused,” he wrote in the column. “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.
“I don’t even read it, yet I can’t escape it. People stop me in the street to tell me how vile it is. They tell me how sorry they are. Although I try to shield myself from it, the fact it is out there poisons the air I breathe.”
In the column, Grant expressed frustration at what he perceived as a lack of support from senior management in the fortnight since the coronation.
“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.”
After Grant’s announcement, ABC managing director David Anderson issued an apology to the journalist in an email to staff, and announced a review to investigate and make recommendations about ABC responses to racism affecting staff.
In 2022, ABC director of news Justin Stevens apologised to staff who had experienced racism or bigotry in its newsrooms after a number of Indigenous staff detailed their experiences of racism to an internal staff advisory group. The review into those complaints, which led to the apology, was never made public.
With Jack Latimore.
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