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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 4 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1253..

Community radio

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (6.37): I rise tonight to draw attention to the importance of community radio. Last night I had the honour of joining the El Salvadorian ambassador in awarding the participants of the Spanish language radio training program with their certificates of completion. It was a timely reminder of the important role that community radio plays in giving a voice to parts of our community that are often marginalised in the broader media landscape.

Sadly, the future of community radio in Australia is under threat. The Commission of Audit has recommended the abolition of the community broadcasting program. This would see $17 million ripped out from local stations.

The value of community radio is not only in the programs it produces but in the important message that we all have stories to tell and that there is value in sharing them. It provides a space for groups in our community who are often too marginalised to speak for themselves.

One of those shows is Friday Night Lip Service. FNLS, as it is known, is a late-night radio show run by queer women for queer women. One of its founders describes the importance of community radio better than I ever could:

Friday night lipservice creates a place for disconnected women and queer people to explore their stories and experiences with a wider audience.

It is important and empowering for them to experience and connect together—beyond age, and geography. FNLS really brings lots of people together to share their stories. I think that is immeasurably important.

They go on to say:

Community radio is also local—it is our friends and neighbours, but without social barriers. It creates connection.

The recent report of the Commission of Audit suggests that there is no imperative to maintain funding to community radio because the federal government already funds the ABC. Our national broadcaster does a great job of exploring the complexity of modern Australia but it cannot give all of us a voice. That is the promise and the role of the local community radio station.

Here in the ACT on 2XX community radio gives voice to a great range of people. It makes sure that foreign language speakers have a familiar voice in our community and that farmers, visually impaired people, LGBTIQ people and Indigenous people have a space to share and explore their experiences. By opening the door to access to media, it plays an important role in our democracy. It creates a pathway for ordinary people to move from being passive consumers to active participants in shaping their community.

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