SBS reveals programming for Reconciliation Week

SBS will explore indigenous stories with a special multiplatform schedule for the National Reconciliation Week

Little J & Big Cuz

In the lead-up to and during National Reconciliation Week 2017 (May 27-June 3), SBS will run a range of special programming across the network to explore powerful indigenous stories and achievements.

The network will reflect on two major anniversaries in Australia’s reconciliation journey: 1) 50 years since the 1967 referendum, which was a turning point in Australia’s history (27 May 2017) 2) Twenty-five years since the historic Mabo decision, which recognised the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional owners of their land (3 June 2017).

SBS is marking these milestones through distinctive programming across television, radio and online, including a series of daily SBS World News features on indigenous achievement in the lead-up to the referendum’s anniversary this weekend.

SBS chief content officer Helen Kellie said: “National Reconciliation Week is an opportunity for the nation to come together to reflect on our reconciliation journey. With multiplatform coverage across the network, SBS is encouraging all Australians to explore our rich indigenous history and cultures through diverse stories that not only celebrate our triumphs and achievements, but also explore the challenges that we continue to face as a nation.”

Programming Highlights

SBS News & Current Affairs

SBS World News is celebrating the achievements of indigenous Australians with a series of stories across TV, radio and online platforms in the lead-up to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum on 27 May – including features with Anita Heiss, Mark Ella and Stephen Page.

Each Sunday in May, Small Business Secrets (Sundays, 5pm on SBS) is featuring indigenous entrepreneurs, including Dreamsky: an indigenous pilot training school, Irranda Holdings: a former special forces officer who started his own manufacturing business in Darwin and Message Stick, an interview with Michael McLeod, CEO and founder of Message Stick, which supplies large corporate organisations with teleconferencing technology. On Sunday 28 May, the series includes Saltwater Dreamtime: an indigenous artist who has partnered with a surfboard manufacturer to produce a unique range featuring Indigenous art. All episodes are available to watch on SBS On Demand.

NITV News & Current Affairs

This week NITV News and Current Affairs has been coming live from Central Australia (7.25pm weeknights on NITV), bringing viewers all the latest news from the Referendum Council Gathering in Mutitjulu.

Tonight, Friday 26 May, 9.35pm, a special episode of The Point broadcasts the closing ceremony and outcomes of the Referendum Council Gathering and next Friday 2 June, 9.35pm, the program comes live from Townsville, Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands ahead of nationwide Mabo Day celebrations.

NITV is also featuring a number of documentaries and premieres throughout the week, including:

NITV commission Carry the Flag (Monday 29 May, 8.30pm on NITV) is a powerful documentary tracking the creation of the Torres Strait Islander flag and the significant story that it represents. Monday 29 May, 2017 is also the 25th anniversary of the flag officially being presented to the people of the Torres Strait Islands.

Documentary The Apology (Friday 26 May, 7pm on NITV) details the legislation and administration of successive parliaments, who participated in the removal of children from their mothers, creating what has commonly become known as the Stolen Generations. It captures the emotion on a thousand faces as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivers the apology, and also documents the reactions from around the country.

Documentary Vote Yes for Aborigines (Saturday 27 May, 6.30pm on NITV) documents the political milestone that overturned Australian constitutional law to allow Aboriginal people to be counted as Australian citizens in their own country. Covering more than the 100 years leading up to the referendum, director and indigenous Yorta Yorta woman Frances Peters-Little revisits those involved with the 1967 referendum and the social attitudes and influences that led to the event.

David Vadiveloo’s documentary Beyond Sorry (Saturday 27 May, 7.30pm on NITV) reveals the complex pressures an urban Aboriginal woman faces when she tries to return to the family that she was taken from as a child. It is an intimate story of cultural conflict, courage and generosity, and of two women from the same land trying hard to reconcile two very different worlds.

Eddie Koiki Mabo left an indelible legacy to the people of Australia, reshaping the landscape and opening up possibilities that many never dreamed of. Mabo: Life of An Island Man (Sunday 28 May, 8.30pm on NITV) is the AFI Award-winning film about the gently spoken public and private man and his inspirational triumph of justice in one of the most important developments in Australia’s history.

Film After Mabo (Sunday 4 June, 8.30pm on NITV) provides a snapshot from the period of the land justice issue as it unravelled over an 18-month period. The film dispels many of the myths about native title and uncovers political and economic agendas behind John Howard‘s Ten Point Plan.


The Feed’s presenter Marc Fennell interviews a young indigenous astronomer exploring what Australia’s First People know about the sky (Thursday 1 June, 7.30pm on SBS VICELAND). Marc heads to the top of the Mount Stromlo Observatory in the Australian Capital Territory to meet the young indigenous astronomer investigating what ancient knowledge can tell us about our place in the stars.

SBS Radio

SBS Radio, working with NITV, has produced 22 multilingual videos of the Acknowledgement of Country. Voiced by diverse SBS Radio broadcasters, the acknowledgements are featuring on screens throughout National Reconciliation Week events at Federation Square in Melbourne (Saturday 27 May to Saturday 3 June), in addition to SBS social media platforms.

SBS Online
SBS Online are publishing features across the week, including indigenous artist Megan Adams and her unique story of  painting AFL star Adam Goodes’ portrait for this year’s Archibald Prize, and a spotlight on indigenous rapper Briggs.

Available now to stream on SBS On Demand’s Walk With Us special collection:

The Feed’s documentary Young & Black explores how it feels to be a millennial and indigenous in Australia today. Presenter Laura Murphy-Oates speaks to four prominent Australians as they unpack the uncomfortable truths of being an indigenous millennial. 50 years after the birth of the reconciliation movement, this generation of indigenous youth were supposed to inherit a very different Australia – but what has changed, and what’s still the same

Directed by Warwick Thornton, Samson and Delilah (2009) follows Samson and Delilah’s small world – an isolated community in the Central Australian desert. When tragedy strikes, they turn their backs on their home and embark on a journey of survival. Lost, unwanted and alone, they discover that life isn’t always fair, and love never judges.

Beck Cole’s Here I Am (2011) is driven by three generations of Aboriginal women – Karen Lee Burden, her mother Lois, and her daughter Rosie. When Karen is released from prison, the women learn, through a series of chance encounters, that freedom is hard to find when hearts are still broken.

Directed by Rachel Perkins, Radiance (1998) follows two sisters as they return to their childhood home to reunite with their third sister in Northern Australia, following their mother’s passing. After the funeral, the sisters find themselves together in the house for the first time in years. With time to talk, drink and fight, past hurts are revealed and family secrets come out.

SBS On Demand also features an extensive collection of indigenous programming and catch-up titles, including landmark documentary First Australians, reality series Family Rules and children’s animation, Little J & Big Cuz.

Subscribe to the Mediaweek Morning Report with the form below.

Most Popular

To Top