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Sunrise Literally Covered Up An Indigenous Protest About Its Segment On Aboriginal Adoption

And played old footage of Martin Place instead.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Australia's most popular breakfast television program, Sunrise, covered its windows to hide a protest happening outside its studios on Friday morning.

Peter Rae / AAPIMAGE

The protest was against a segment the Seven breakfast show put to air on Tuesday about the adoption of Aboriginal children.

Sunrise


In the segment, the host, plus two conservative commentators, none of whom are Indigenous, were discussing a news report that claimed children's minister David Gillespie said that white families should be able to adopt Indigenous children facing neglect or abuse.

Gillespie has denied making statements about "white families", but has mentioned the possibility of open adoption where the adopted children can stay in contact with their birth parents.

The Sunrise segment sparked controversy because it didn't feature any Indigenous voices and didn't contest the notion of forced removal of Aboriginal kids from their parents and community.

Sunrise

Right-wing panellist Prue MacSween's comments in the segment caused outrage when she said that "just like the Stolen Generation" a lot of children would be taken "for their wellbeing".

Protest organiser, Wiradjuri and Torres Strait Islander woman and Fighting In Solidarity Towards Treaties member Lynda-June Coe told BuzzFeed News that the segment was "ill-informed, misguided, and not based on fact".

"It's just telling lies," she said. "Having a conversation [about Indigenous people] without including us is just dumb. It leads to that whole white saviour mentality.

"There was a blatant disregard for the Stolen Generations and the ongoing trauma that is still in our communities. To even advocate that it was for their wellbeing ... Prue MacSween doesn't even know her own history."

The Australian government apologised in 2008 to the Stolen Generations for the government's actions at the time.

Coe said the screens went up about 30-45 minutes after protesters arrived outside the Sunrise studio this morning.

Dylan Voller/Facebook

Footage of the protest posted on social media shows hundreds of people chanting outside the Martin Place studio, while speakers talk about their experience of forced removal.

Meanwhile, inside the Sunrise studio, behind the soundproof glass, and shuttered blinds, no hint of the protest was seen or heard.

Sunrise appeared to run old footage of Martin Place instead of the live footage of the protest.

Photos from the protest also show that the windows were completely covered up during the broadcast.

Peter Rae / AAPIMAGE

Coe said that protesters had tried contacting Seven's media team and received no response.

"We want the opportunity to respond," she said. "We want the opportunity to voice our concerns about our kids' welfare and the state of our community. The fact that they had panel members with no expertise whatsoever alludes to their arrogance."

Coe said that to have Sunrise not even acknowledge the protest and cover it up was an added insult.

"It was another kick in the guts, pretty much. To not even acknowledge that we were there, once again, shows their arrogance."

After facing blowback on the segment all week, Sunrise removed the clip of the segment from its Twitter feed. Seven told Fairfax Media, however, that this was due to copyright owners of the overlay footage used in the segment lodging a complaint about the use of the footage without permission.

A spokesperson for Seven said the network respects the right to protest and free speech but claimed that there were offensive signs that could not be broadcast.

"Some of the group were holding offensive signage and some began banging on the window and mouthing obscenities," the spokesperson said. "To ensure regulatory compliance, and bearing in mind the potential for young children to be watching, the decision was made to utilise a generic backdrop."

Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Josh Taylor at josh.taylor@buzzfeed.com.

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