Press release from Access PR
SBS has scooped six awards at the 2011 United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Awards, including two awards for its highly acclaimed documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From.
Winners on the night also included Dateline, World News Australia and World News Australia Radio.
Michael Ebeid, SBS Managing Director, said: “It’s testament to the calibre of our news and current affairs team that SBS had a clean sweep of the broadcast categories at the awards. I congratulate everyone involved on their well-deserved wins.”
In the Best Television category (news), SBS Senior Correspondent Brian Thompson picked up the award for ‘Unfinished Business’, his reports from the Papua New Guinean island of Bougainville for World News Australia, which aired in June 2011. Thomson reported on divisions over plans to re-open the mine that sparked a civil war in PNG. Rio Tinto and the Bougainville Government hope to reopen the highly profitable Panguna mine but as Thomson discovered, while there is considerable support for this in the capital, that support diminishes as you get closer to Panguna itself. Thomson gained rare access to the mine and spoke with former rebels who still control the area. They want their demands met and to be compensated properly before even considering reopening the mine. SBS also exclusively obtained an affidavit written by PNG’s former Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare in 2001 in which he claimed that Rio Tinto had played an active role in military operations during the Bougainville war – revelations that are further complicating attempts to re-open the mine.
In the Best Television category (current affairs), SBS Dateline video journalist Yaara Bou-Melhem was awarded for her series ‘Struggle for Freedom’ (Freedom's Call & Bahrain's Dark Secret). Bou Melhem travelled to Syria and Bahrain to investigate the hard line stance being taken by governments there to people speaking out against the oppressive regimes.
Syria has long been an island of stability in a troubled region but the appearance of calm has come at a high price – the price of freedom for those who oppose the regime. In ‘Freedom’s Call’, broadcast in February 2011, Bou Melhem reported on the people’s democracy movement in Syria and found a largely unreported struggle between dissidents and President Bashar al-Assad's hard line government.
Compared to the reporting from Egypt or the coverage of the Libyan uprising, at the time of this investigation very little had been reported on the Gulf state of Bahrain. In Bou Melhem’s report ‘Bahrain’s Dark Secret’, broadcast in April 2011, anti-government activists there were being brutally attacked by government security forces. She found a regime determined to keep protesters quiet and out of the media and reported on the persecution and fear of those wanting to speak out, but who face violent attacks for standing up for democracy.
In the Best Television category (documentary), SBS won for its ground-breaking documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From, made for SBS by Cordell Jigsaw. The series also scooped the prize in the Special Award Categories for Promotion of Multicultural Issues.
Broadcast in June 2011, Go Back To Where You Came From is one of the most ambitious documentary series ever made. Six participants agreed to challenge their preconceived notions about refugees and asylum seekers by embarking on a confronting 25 day journey. Tracing in reverse the journeys that refugees had taken to reach Australia, they travelled to some of the most dangerous and desperate corners of the world.
In the Best Radio category, SBS’s World News Australia Radio won the award for its report in April 2011, ‘Two Decades, Too Little, Too Late for Many: What became of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody?’
The 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody exposed the widespread failure of Australia’s justice system to protect indigenous prisoners. It investigated the deaths of 99 indigenous people and made 339 recommendations, but 20 years later, more than a quarter of Australia’s prison population is indigenous, and the number of deaths in custody still far exceeds that of other prisoners. SBS reporters from around the country examined high profile Aboriginal deaths in custody, including the 2004 Palm Island death of Cameron Doomadgee and Kalgoorlie man Mr Ward who died in the back of a prison van during a heatwave in 2008.
In the Best Online category, SBS Online received a special commendation for its interactive documentary Africa 2 Australia made in conjunction with Indian Ocean Productions.
Africa 2 Australia presents a collection of personal and inspiring first-hand stories from Africans on their journey from their homeland to Australia. Beautifully presented using video, photography and text, each story explores and shares views on topics such as refugees, racism, injustice, family and their struggle to belong in a new place. Africa 2 Australia also picked up an award in the Special Award Categories for Promotion of Multicultural Issues.
The full list of SBS finalists included:
• Brian Thomson, SBS TV – ‘Unfinished Business’ Current Affairs
• Yaara Bou-Melhem, SBS TV Dateline – ‘Series: Struggle for Freedom (Freedom's Call & Bahrain's Dark Secret)’
• Fouad Hady, Geoff Parish and Melanie Morrison, SBS TV Dateline – ‘Breaking Point’ Documentary
• Cordell Jigsaw Productions for SBS – ‘Go Back to Where You Came From’
• Electric Pictures and Doclab Srl, Electric Pictures – ‘Skin Deep’
• Sacha Payne, Stefan Armbruster, Ron Sutton, Jennifer Curtis, Karen Ashford, Greg Dyett, Michelle Lovegrove and Lindsey Arkley, SBS – ‘Two Decades, Too Little, Too Late for Many: What became of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody’
• Luke Waters, SBS World News Australia – ‘A “PM”… a dinner party and a legacy’
• Matt Smith, John-Paul Marin, Nick Doherty, John MacFarlane and John Connell, SBS Online and Indian Ocean Productions – ‘Africa to Australia’
Special Award Categories
Promotion of Aboriginal Reconciliation
• Natasha Gadd, Rhys Graham, Phillipa Campey and Sarah Bond, Daybreak Films – ‘Murundak – Songs of Freedom’
Increasing Awareness and Understanding of Children’s Rights and Issues
• Jenny Brockie, Jane Worthington, Kym Middleton and Sarah Alleyly, SBS TV – ‘SBS Insight – Gay in School’
Promotion of Multicultural Issues
• Cordell Jigsaw Productions for SBS – ‘Go back to where you came from’
• Dan Fill, Frank Verheggen and Chris Sullivan, Chocolate Liberation Front commissioned by SBS Online – ‘Asylum: Exit Australia’
• Matt Smith, Nick Doherty, John Connell, John-Paul Marin and John MacFarlane, SBS Online and Indian Ocean Productions – ‘Africa to Australia’