Penny Smallacombe to depart Screen Australia

After six and half years, Screen Australia head of Indigenous Penny Smallacombe will depart the agency in June.

Smallacombe joined Screen Australia in 2014, and during her tenure has helped shepherd to screen some of the Indigenous Department’s most high-profile projects, including ABC series Mystery Road and Total Control, feature films Sweet Country and Goldstone, and documentaries Maralinga Tjarutja, Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky and She Who Must Be Loved.

The highly-regarded executive also stewarded “The Next 25 Years” – the Indigenous department’s new strategy, the culmination of extensive consultation that occurred throughout the department’s 25th anniversary year (2018).

While at the federal agency, she has also overseen numerous initiatives, including Bunya Talent Hub LA, Songlines on Screen, Pitch Black Shorts, Shock Treatment, State of Alarm, [Black Space] and the Producers Initiative.

“Heading up Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department for the past six years has been one of the best jobs I’ve ever had and an absolute privilege,” Smallacombe tells IF.

“I’ll deeply miss the brilliant members of my team. I’m immensely proud of the content the department has supported during this time including Sweet CountryMystery RoadTotal Control and Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky to name but a few, and the numerous initiatives developed to uncover new talent. The breadth of content being created by First Nations filmmakers here in Australia is world class and truly inspirational. I’m looking forward to starting the next producing chapter in my life.” 

Smallacombe is a Maramanindji woman from the Northern Territory, and prior to joining Screen Australia worked as senior programmer at NITV.

With a background as a producer, her credits include A Change of Heart and The Forgotten Ones. She also worked as producer/director with the ABC’s Indigenous Programs Unit producing numerous stories for the long-running Message Sticks program, and produced the ABC’s Yarning Up series one and two.

Smallacombe will reflect on her time heading the department at Screenwork’s upcoming Regional to Global Screen Forum, including the challenges that the industry and screen culture collectively face in the years ahead.

Upcoming projects supported by the Indigenous department include Jub Clerc’s debut feature Sweet As and Nakkiah Lui’s ABC comedy Preppers.

Screen Australia is currently advertising for the head of Indigenous role, for a three year contract. More info here.

An announcement about Smallacombe’s next move will be made in due course.