Home Trending BBC apologises for misleading documentary on ‘drunken’ Aboriginal community

BBC apologises for misleading documentary on ‘drunken’ Aboriginal community

75
0
SHARE

Wilcannia residents accuse presenter of unethical behaviour, including filming people drinking heavily at a wake, but presenting it as a drunken party

The BBC has apologised for a misleading documentary on an Aboriginal community in regional Australia, after angry residents accused presenter Reggie Yates and the crew of unethical behaviour.

Yates and the independent production company, Sundog Pictures, spent some time in the New South Wales town of Wilcannia, filming the documentary Hidden Australia: Black in the Outback.

Among the accusations, Barkindji man, Owen Whyman, told the ABC the crew filmed members of the community and others drinking heavily at a wake, but presented it as a drunken party.

We like to have a beer because we dont know when were going to see each other again, and we were all in mourning, and he never said anything about that in the documentary, said Whyman.

A spokesman for the BBC told the Guardian it had spoken with Sundog Pictures about the incident, and it now understood the footage of the wake was edited in a way which is misleading.

This clearly falls below the standards we expect of program makers and for this we would like to apologise.

The BBC was speaking with everyone at Sundog Pictures who was involved with the scene to find out what happened and remind them of the BBCs editorial standards, he said.

A still from Hidden Australia: Black in the Outback showing a wake. Photograph: BBC

Residents said Yates told them he wanted to tell a positive story, but then unfairly emphasised the towns problems, particularly with alcohol.

What we saw being videoed and what we saw being played are two different stories, Brendon Adams told the ABC.

BBC said it took seriously any suggestion that its standards of accuracy and fairness had not been met.

The program aimed to show what life is like for the local community and whilst we cant include everything we film, the program did feature the work of the youth centre and a traditional hunt, the spokesman said.

Sundog has told us that at every stage those featured had consented to being filmed and were given a clear understanding of the programs aims and where appropriate contributors were visited after filming as well.

Wilcannia is a small town in the north-western region of New South Wales. In 2015 it was named one of the states most disadvantaged communities. It has a predominantly Indigenous population and has had widespread issues of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unemployment, but a number of community-run programs have worked to improve conditions for the Barkindji people and the reputation of the town.

Jenny Thwaites, chief executive of the Wilcannia Aboriginal Land Council, said she had seen the documentary and was also offended at the way the community was presented.

Yes we recognise that the town has a problem with alcohol but theres a lot of really positive things happening, she told the Guardian.

Small good things are happening. Reggie didnt come anywhere near the land council, she said.

Thwaites noted the local mens group, womens safe house, a jobs program, Indigenous-run business ventures, and the Maari Ma Aboriginal health service which employed five Indigenous people as just some examples the documentary could have mentioned.

He didnt go to any of the areas where positive things are happening. I thought: thats the sort of thing that 20 years ago got the media totally barred from the town. It makes it sound like nothings change, but I know it has.

Thwaites said she was disappointed the BBC let it go to air.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us