SBS and NITV have launched a new nationwide documentary initiative.

UPDATE: Applications for Curious Australia have been extended until Monday, August 9 in consideration of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions experienced across states and territories.

SBS and NITV have announced the launch of a new one-off documentary initiative designed to reflect the diversity of people and experiences within Australia.

Created in partnership with Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, Screen Tasmania, Screen Territory, Screenwest and the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), Curious Australia invites submissions of standalone, half-hour documentaries from people from under-represented backgrounds in the sector.

Successful documentaries will be commissioned for SBS platforms, including SBS Viceland, NITV, and SBS On Demand.

Criteria for Curious Australia applications include two key creative roles on a project being held by people from an under-represented background, including those identifying as First Nations Australians; women; people of diverse age backgrounds; people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds; people living with disability; people of diverse sexuality and gender identities including LGBTQIA+; people from under-represented locations (including regional and remote areas); and people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

Projects must be standalone unscripted documentaries suitable for a half-hour television slot and explore issues relevant to contemporary Australia in an innovative way.

SBS has previously partnered with the Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF) for doco strand Australia Uncovered, which called for feature-length documentary proposals that explored diversity and equality.

SBS commissioning editor for documentaries Susie Jones said the latest initiative was an exciting new addition to the network’s factual offering.

“Through Curious Australia, we’ve partnered with Screen Australia and screen agencies around the country to seek out documentaries which put the spotlight on those things that make Australia unique, the people that inspire us to see things from a different perspective, and authentic stories that spark curiosity, enlighten and engage audiences in powerful and entertaining ways,” she said.

“[Curious Australia] is a unique opportunity for documentary-makers to tackle contemporary Australian stories and issues while also supporting the development of diverse creative talent in the sector.”

NITV head of commissioning and programming Kyas Hepworth said the network was excited to see the submissions from those who had a story to tell.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing bold and unique stories from First Nations documentary makers across Australia uncovered through this initiative, exploring and reflecting the diverse experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today,” she said.

Applications can be made directly with relevant state screen agencies, and close Monday, August 9.

The successful submissions will be announced in September.

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