Larrakia Television launches in Darwin

The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Adam Giles, opened Larrakia Television at Parliament House in Darwin, during the build up to the biggest week in Darwin, the Darwin Cup carnival.

The Chief Minister pulled the switch from Analogue to Digital and Larrakia Television became part of the digital age in Darwin.

Larrakia Television joins a band of Indigenous television practitioners following the dream of Indigenous people to have localised television services, beginning with CAAMA Productions in Alice Springs, winners of countless awards. CAAMA went on to form Imparja television.  Along the way some failed, but others like Goolarri Television in Broome have become strong television production companies and media services.

But there has been failures.  NITV is seen by many in the industry as a failure. The migration to the multicultural broadcaster SBS has little Indigenous support in regional and remote Australia and there is a reluctance to engage with the SBS model.

Goolarri and Larrakia, both grassroots, have the support of the people involved in their local communities. Larrakia TV in Darwin adds to the list. People lucky enough to see one of these Indigenous grassroots channels will have an experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs: the programs depict local Australian cultural stories and not other Indigenous programs.

The Indigenous owned television enterprises are a growing, innovative and creative industry, that remain largely unsupported in content, capital, and operational funding.  They provide work opportunities for young Indigenous people in this growing industry.  People involved in this grassroots and utopian industry have a strong supporter base among the mainstream of Australia who see indigenous culture as a standalone culture of 40,000 years and not just part of  ‘multicultural Australia.’

The people involved in Indigenous television are to be commended for their unwavering commitment to cultural survival.  It’s a long hard long road for the people who came and had a go, in the true fashion of the Territory. You can do anything in the Territory, you just have to have a go, and Larrakia Television are doing that.

Following the opening, attention was focused at the week at hand the Darwin Cup carnival.  People from all over the country and Asia  flock to Darwin to let their hair down, dress up to the max, soak up the atmosphere and partake in the time-honoured Territory pastimes of having a bet and a can with your mates, catch up with family and friends and going to the night markets.

You can dress up like the crowd at Flemington, or come in “Territory Rig”.  Territory Rig sounds like a double-decker 4-dog road train, but it is a form of dress code for the Territory.  It’s for when you dress up, when you dont dress up.

During my time living in the Territory there was never a decision to make about what to wear and how you looked. Territorians accept anything really, they are an easy-going mob. You can wear a suit if you like or a pair of thongs, shorts and a singlet.  It’s all “territory rig”.  People still talk to you.

One particular fashion trend, introduced and worn by bureaucrats, seems to have had its day. Indigenous people were quick to name the fashion “long socks”.  When they say a bureaucrat come to their camp the word would go around “long socks coming”.  Their dress code was straight out of the colonial handbook; khaki shorts, long white socks, leather shoes and short-sleeved shirt.  All that was missing was the pith helmet.

The Territory is a great place, there are not to many snobs left in the Territory, they soon blend in the local species. They tend to drift in from the south some with backpacks in search of themselves, with their smartypants green inspired ideas to change the place. We used to have an open speed limit, un fenced back yard swimming pools, lot of country to dump uranium waste, until snobs from the south though we needed a change.

Good luck Larrakia television, you’ve got a lot going for you.

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