The ABC will undertake a review into its response to racism following comments from journalist Stan Grant who said he had been subject to “relentless racial filth” and would be leaving his role as the host of Q&A.
The comments from Grant came last week, following his appearance on a panel about the coronation of King Charles. He said he had felt unsupported by the ABC and its leadership as he faced racially-charged backlash online and in the media.
“Since the King’s coronation, I have seen people in the media lie and distort my words. They have tried to depict me as hate filled. They have accused me of maligning Australia,” Grant wrote in a piece published by the ABC on Friday.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. My ancestors would not allow me to be filled with hate.
“I was invited to contribute to the ABC’s coverage as part of a discussion about the legacy of the monarchy. I pointed out that the crown represents the invasion and theft of our land. In the name of the crown my people were segregated on missions and reserves. Police wearing the seal of the crown took children from their families. Under the crown our people were massacred.”
Grant said one of the reasons he decided to write the article was because of the absence of support he had received from the ABC.
“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,” Grant 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.”
On Sunday afternoon, ABC managing director David Anderson issued an apology to Grant and said a review would take place.
“Stan Grant has stated that he has not felt publicly supported. For this, I apologise to Stan. The ABC endeavours to support its staff in the unfortunate moments when there is external abuse directed at them,” Anderson said.
Co-chair of the Australian Republic Movement, Craig Foster, who appeared on the ABC’s coronation coverage panel alongside Grant, said that he would never be subjected to the same abuse.
“I, too, was part of the ABC coronation coverage for which Stan has carried a heavy burden and yet I would never suffer the same criticism, abuse, twisting of words or intent and racial vilification as a First Nations person courageously opens themself to,” Foster wrote on Instagram.
“Consider that reality for a moment. On that coverage, I said that Ausralians have been taught that the Crown is beyond reproach, immune to accountability, and now important conversations have opened about historical justice and that every contributor to Australian history is accountable.
“When a First Nations person enters that conversation, however, just like for the past 253 years, they are flogged, massacred. Physically or psychologically it is the same.”
Meanwhile, CEO of Media Diversity Australia, Mariam Veiszadeh, offered her support to Grant.
“Stan Grant speaks without fear or favour on behalf of the many journalists of colour who cannot,” Veiszadeh wrote. “And for that, he bears the brunt of abuse, from all angles.”
“This is literally why Media Diversity Australia exists. There are deeply entrenched issues that need addressing across the entire media landscape and doing so requires some uncomfortable conversations.”
Elsewhere, Indigenous broadcaster NITV has just announced it will step back its presence on Twitter, because of the racially-charged abuse on the social media platform.
“You may have noticed we haven’t been using Twitter much lately. We’ve decided to take a break from it,” the broadcaster said in a statement. “We’ve had enough of the racism and hate that we see and experience every day on this platform. It’s just not a place we want or need to be, particularly during a time when things are heavy enough.”
The conversation raised by Grant about the racism and his experiences at the ABC comes as Australian federal politics is focused on the upcoming referendum to the Voice to parliament. If there’s ever been a more appropriate time to confront the racism that underlines Australia, this would be it.
As Craig Foster wrote, “the Uluṟu Statement and Voice is the beginning of the path to equality, to confronting racism and to a just Australia”.