An ABC News Breakfast host has urged the public broadcaster to be faster and more effective in denouncing racism following Stan Grant’s departure from Q+A.
Michael Rowland made the remarks on Tuesday following Mr Grant’s powerful exit speech during his final appearance as host of the popular current affairs talk show on Monday night.
Mr Grant said he was taking a break from the media following racist abuse hurled at him online and intensified after he appeared in coverage of the King’s coronation and a perceived lack of support from ABC management.
“It’s not just been weeks and months, it’s been years since Stan has faced this. Racism is a scourge,” Mr Rowland said.
“We all need to do better and so does the ABC to call it out and call it out faster than in this country,” he said.
News Breakfast’s Michael Rowland (left) urged the ABC to be better at expressing racism
Stan Grant said during his last Q+A ‘for a while’ that he felt like he was part of the problem and wanted to take a break to think about how he could do better
Mr Rowland’s comments followed an appearance on the program by First Nations Foundation President Ian Hamm.
“Stan does his job very well. I think he took on the role of poking Australia’s bear where it’s awkward from time to time,” Hamm said.
‘There is a risk in that. The backlash from those who don’t like it and who might want Aboriginal people to be more accommodating and nicer.’
“That has taken its toll.”
“Stan isn’t running away. He’s just taking a break, as everyone should in this situation.”
Mr Hamm said this year in particular, with Australians voting for an Indigenous vote in parliament in November, continued tensions would arise.
“Australia has race relations issues and all it takes is to scratch the surface and some very unpleasant sores can be exposed.”
“I have great hopes for my country, but I am also realistic enough to know that this is not an easy journey.
“He’s not alone and the rest of us are behind him and like him, we’re not running away. And we intend to pursue the right place for our people in this country.”
First Nation’s Foundation chairman Ian Hamm (pictured) said Mr Grant had ‘prodded the bear’ when he discussed the hardships of Indigenous Australians during the coronation coverage
In his latest episode of Q+A “For a while,” host Stan Grant gave viewers an insight into Yindyamarra, a Wiradjuri ethic that includes respect.
“I’ve had to learn that endurance isn’t always strength, sometimes it’s knowing when to stop.”
Grant thanked those who sent messages of support.
And he had a message for those who abused him and his relatives.
“If your goal was to hurt, then you succeeded—and I’m sorry,” he said.
“Yindyamarra means that I am not only responsible for what I do, but also for what you do.
‘It’s what it means to be Wiradjuri. It is the core of my being. It’s respect… it comes from the earth we were born in, from God, Biame.’
In a column for the ABC on Friday, Grant criticized the broadcaster for not publicly supporting him during his ordeal.
ABC staff gathered outside offices in Sydney and Melbourne on Monday after the renowned broadcaster said abuses had accelerated following his critical remarks about the monarchy’s role in colonialism and that he had had enough.
“It’s really hard to see him struggling and having to deal with the racism and disgusting filth that has been put online,” daughter Lowanna Grant said at the Sydney rally.
“I’m so thankful everyone here today is supporting him… and all the other First Nations journalists.”
ABC employees protested this week, calling on the national broadcaster to more effectively address racism against its public-facing staff
ABC news director Justin Stevens said so “Unbelievably sorry that he felt let down by our organization (and) that we could have defended him better.
“We’ll do everything we can to make it right.”
The ABC pledged to review its response to racism affecting staff, in line with a recommendation from its internal Indigenous advisory committee.
ABC executive David Anderson apologized on Sunday for not publicly supporting Grant.
“The ABC tries to support its staff in the unfortunate times when external abuse has been directed at them,” he said.
In an email to staff, Mr Anderson said anti-ABC messages from some commercial media outlets were “persistent and vicious”.
“This has real consequences for ABC hosts and journalists who are personally attacked and defamed,” he wrote.