Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Online resource to raise awareness of Indigenous grieving traditions

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy - Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, and Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, today announced an online resource to raise awareness of Indigenous cultural protocols relating to media coverage of the deaths of Indigenous people.

Aboriginal cultural protocols prohibit the use of names or images of recently deceased Indigenous people.

But a lack of general awareness of these protocols means that media reports of deaths sometimes include names or images. These reports can cause enormous distress to families and communities already trying to come to terms with their loss.

The Government will develop an online resource providing information about Indigenous grieving traditions to encourage the media to observe these protocols when reporting Indigenous deaths.

“For everybody, the grieving process is an essential part of healing when a loved one dies,” Ms Macklin said.

“Different communities grieve differently. We need to be respectful of the needs and traditions people have when coping with death, including Indigenous Australians.

“Misunderstanding or ignoring these traditions can cause enormous distress and sadness at a time when people are already suffering.”

Senator Conroy urged the media to become aware of and respect Indigenous grieving traditions.

“I am pleased to note that media organisations such as the ABC, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and commercial broadcasters already have guidelines and Codes of Practice on this issue,” Senator Conroy said.

“The Government’s online resource will promote these guidelines and codes of practice. Media outlets and others dealing with Indigenous deaths will have access to important information about Indigenous traditions and protocols.”

In many areas of Indigenous Australia, reproduction of the names and photographs of deceased people is restricted during a period of mourning. The length of this time varies and is determined by the community.

When a well-known individual passes away, the local community usually issues guidelines on how the name, image, voice or video of this person can be used.

If names or images are to be used, written permission should be obtained from the person’s family or community.