Angela Bates named Screen Australia head of First Nations

Angela Bates.

Screen Australia has promoted Angela Bates to head of First Nations following the departure of Penny Smallacombe in May.

Bates steps into the role after almost three years as development and investment manager for the First Nations department, during which time she supported titles such as Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky, the second season of Total Control, the third season of Little J & Big Cuz, as well as Indigenous initiative Cook 2020: Our Right of Reply, and the pilot of the First Nations Creator Program.

She has more than two decades of experience in the media sector as a TV producer, writer, journalist, and documentary filmmaker, with her career including multiple roles at Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA radio), Sydney’s Koori Radio, SBS’s Living Black program, and NITV.

While at NITV, she was the inaugural executive producer for NITV National News, where she set up the first nightly Indigenous news service on national television. She also initiated and set up Awaken, a half-hour weekly panel program hosted by Stan Grant, and co-produced, wrote, and presented the documentary Homelands.

In 2015, Bates became the general manager for the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network, an alliance of Indigenous television networks from eight countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, and Hawaii. Prior to starting at Screen Australia, she was a multiplatform reporter and radio news presenter with ABC Broken Hill, covering the far west region of NSW.

Bates paid tribute to her predecessors in accepting the new role.

“There’s never been a more exciting time to be a First Nations creator in the screen industry, with the global appetite for our stories growing at a thrilling pace,” she said.

“It’s a credit to Wal Saunders, Sally Riley, Erica Glynn, and Penny Smallacombe, who have all led the Department at various times over its 28-year history, that our Australian First Nations sector is in such terrific shape.

“In particular I’d like to pay tribute to Penny who pushed boundaries, strongly advocated authentic storytelling, identified, supported, and nurtured extraordinary First Nations talent and content.

“I look forward to continuing the great work of those before me, and leveraging as many opportunities as possible for our sector.”

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said the agency felt “incredibly privileged and excited” to have Bates at the helm of the First Nations department.

“First Nations filmmakers have given us some of the most distinct and acclaimed stories in our history,” he said.

“With Angela’s breadth of experience and expertise, combined with her passion for the industry, we have confidence she will continue to develop and nurture the next generation of talented screen practitioners in our country as well as ensure First Nations stories are celebrated both in Australia and shared with audiences around the world.”

Screen Australia will commence recruitment for the role of development and investment manager for the First Nations department shortly.