Bringing an Indigenous voice into mainstream media
As the first Indigenous person on Australian commercial breakfast TV, Brooke Boney is embracing the opportunity to broaden perspectives.
Bachelor of Communication (Journalism), 2014
Entertainment reporter on Nine Network’s Today show
Earlier this year, journalist and UTS graduate Brooke Boney swapped the cutthroat world of news and politics for the cutthroat world of breakfast TV.
Just days into her new job as Today’s entertainment reporter, she was asked for her thoughts on Change the Date, a campaign to move Australia Day from the date of the First Fleet’s arrival in Sydney.
All smiles, Boney cut to the chase.
“This is the best country in the world, no doubt,” she said. “But I can’t separate the 26th of January from the fact that my brothers are more likely to go to jail than they are to go to school, or that my little sisters and my mum are more likely to be beaten and raped than anyone else’s sisters and mum, and that started from that day.”
The backlash was fierce and Boney, a Gamilaroi Gomeroi woman, admits it was hard to take.
“When you say something that’s important and heartfelt, you want people to really hear you. That was the difficult part: realising that you don’t have a lot of control over the narrative once it’s out there, in the world.”
If you get caught up thinking about how many people don’t want you to succeed or are standing in your way, you fail to see that there are so many who’ll give you a chance or are barracking for you.
Still, she’s embraced the chance to speak to a mass audience, even if that audience is vastly different to those who tuned in to Triple J, NITV, SBS and the ABC, where she previously held roles as a news presenter and political correspondent.
It’s part of what drew her to study journalism — the chance to be part of the conversation, rather than reading about it. But getting a seat at the table wasn’t easy for Boney, the first in her family to go to university.
“If you haven’t seen it done before, you don’t think of university as being an institution for you,” she says.
A spokesperson for the GO Foundation, which creates opportunities for Indigenous youth through education, Boney encourages others to follow her lead.
“Once Indigenous kids get through post-secondary education, we actually do better,” she says. “But we need to be able to imagine it.”
Brooke Boney is the recipient of the 2019 UTS Indigenous Australian Alumni Award.
ROLE MODEL: “Journalist Stan Grant, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, AFL General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy Tanya Hosch, and writer Aunty Jackie Huggins.”
SECRET SKILL: “I can eat a meat pie with one hand without spilling any. It comes from years of going to Swans games.”
Q&A: Brooke on leading positive change
You’re the first Indigenous person on commercial breakfast TV. Do you feel the pressure of
“Yes, for a couple of reasons. I want to do justice to all the people who’ve supported me, and to be the best possible advocate and representative from the community, but without trying to speak on behalf of everyone.”
What are you most proud of?
“I always stand up for what I believe in, whether that’s pointing out an editorial decision that goes against my values or saying to a colleague, ‘Actually, when you say that, it makes me feel really uncomfortable.’ It takes a lot — I have to rally to do it — because I know it’s sometimes difficult for people to hear.”
How do you deal with critics?
“I focus on the people who’ve helped me along the way. If you get caught up thinking about how many people don’t want you to succeed or are standing in your way, you fail to see that there are so many who’ll give you a chance or are barracking for you.”