First Nations Media Conference – Converge

There was a wonderful moment at the First Nations Media Conference (Converge) when Miriam Corowa was presented with an award for her achievements in journalism.

You might know Miriam from her appearances on the ABC News channel, or from other work she has done in the media, including at SBS. It’s been quite a journey from her time doing Year 11 work experience at the ABC in Lismore!

She had just been on a panel of Indigenous journalists talking about the joys and challenges of working on stories about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands. In the midst of important stories about deaths in custody and closing the gap, they also spoke about the joy that comes from seeing positive stories, too.

Miriam spoke with passion and emotion about covering these stories, and about being “back home in Lismore”. Though born in Adelaide, she grew up here, and her mum still lives locally.

Miriam Corowa at Converge, the First Nations Media Conference

The other woman in the photograph above is also from Lismore, the renowned broadcaster and arts worker, Rhoda Roberts.

Rhoda was one of two key-note speakers at the conference, along with Pat Turner. Rhoda also spoke with passion and emotion about her career in the media and the arts. And with humour, too.

“Does anyone here know what a candy-striper was”, she asked the audience. I put my hand up. “Ah just the old people with glasses”, she replied with a laugh.

I’m pretty sure my aunty, Meg Webb worked with the candy stripers (domestic assistants) at Lismore Base Hospital. My dad also worked at the hospital as a plumber/boilermaker. Their sister-in-law Eileen (Crummy) O’Brien (my aunty) was a Widgabal/Bundjalung elder.

So I had a bit of an understanding of the story as Rhoda talked about her “expectations” as a young Aboriginal woman growing up in Lismore during the 60s/70s. “You were quite good as a candy striper, so you could become a nurses’ aid”, she told the audience she was told. As an FYI, my own careers adviser at the same school Rhoda attended told me I would never have a chance of getting a job at ABC Radio, and that maybe I should become a librarian :)

Rhoda spoke with passion about her father, Pastor Frank Roberts who encouraged her throughout her life and career. With passion, she spoke about how proud he was when she hosted the first anniversary of The Koori Mail. “He died the next day”, she told us.

But you get the idea Frank has always been on her mind throughout her career, as she has gone on to great achievements, including the Sydney Olympic Games, her work at the Sydney Opera House, etc. And now she’s back home, “back on country” and working at NORPA.

It was so terrific to be able to attend part of Converge. There were so many interesting discussions, and it was awesome to catch up with some current and former colleagues. But, being local and parochial for just a moment, the highlight was seeing these two great Bundjalung women being recognised for their work.

Miriam spoke on ABC North Coast

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