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Stan Grant reveals racism and reporting life almost drove ABC journalist to take his own life

Veteran journalist Stan Grant has revealed how a lifetime of reporting on traumatic events and experiencing racism nearly led him to take his own life.

In a keynote address to the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in Sydney on Monday, ABC’s international affairs analyst said: “There were times when I felt the urge to take my own life, washing over me like a wave. irrepressible.”

”Do it now. Jump now’. So powerful, it would block everything.

“I remember one time I was standing on the balcony of my hotel room when I was doing a story…and I went up on the balcony and just stood there, with nothing to hold me, not caring if I fell.”

In his speech, Grant shared his experience of confronting racism as a young Aboriginal man, his constant exposure to negative news while reporting from the field, and his disappointment with ABC.

Veteran journalist Stan Grant has revealed that a lifetime of reporting on traumatic events and experiencing racism firsthand nearly led him to take his own life.

Veteran journalist Stan Grant has revealed that a lifetime of reporting on traumatic events and experiencing racism firsthand nearly led him to take his own life.

The ABC international affairs analyst confessed that he once thought of jumping from the balcony of his room on the 15th floor of a hotel where he was staying

The ABC international affairs analyst confessed that he once thought of jumping from the balcony of his room on the 15th floor of a hotel where he was staying

Grant said: ‘The years of reporting these stories, of dragging my story with me, took a huge toll.

‘How these things can fester and seep into us, like the frog in slowly boiling water. She was not aware that she was boiling.

‘My wife watched this unfold slowly and slowly, with each passing year…

“More reporting on the war, more reporting on the horror, the natural disasters, absorbing the stories of the suffering of others and triggering the memories and the stories that I had grown up with.”

He credited his wife and mental health services for bringing him out of the dark and overcoming his suicidal thoughts.

“Fortunately my wife intervened,” he said. ‘I got the treatment I needed. I found the right people, I took the right medication, I took the time to deal with it.

‘I remember one day standing in that beautiful golden winter light…knowing that there was a healing in the country and in the place that I needed.’

Grant recalled growing up in a rural New South Wales town and his experiences with racism as a child during the 1960s.

“Australia was overwhelmingly white,” he said. ‘To be someone like me, to be indigenous, was to be someone banished to the periphery and the margins.

Grant spoke about his mental health struggles, his experiences dealing with racism as a young Aboriginal man, his constant exposure to negative news while reporting from the field, and his growing disappointment with ABC.

Grant spoke about his mental health struggles, his experiences dealing with racism as a young Aboriginal man, his constant exposure to negative news while reporting from the field, and his growing disappointment with ABC.

Grant revealed his disappointment at how little had changed in Australia as he recalled growing up in a rural New South Wales town and his experiences with racism as a child during the 1960s.

Grant revealed his disappointment at how little had changed in Australia as he recalled growing up in a rural New South Wales town and his experiences with racism as a child during the 1960s.

Veteran journalist Stan Grant breaks into ABC

Grant, who is a proud Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi man, took aim at ABC saying the national broadcaster had failed to become more inclusive.

“Now I love ABC and I’m proud to be there, but it has completely failed,” he said.

“If I look at the shows on the air now, yes, there are some different faces, different colors, but the people running them are white, the executive producers are overwhelmingly white…

Then there is me. I know that by my very presence I am the exception. When we report on Aboriginal issues, we still do so through the lens of another.”

‘I remember sitting in class and a boy sat next to me and put his arm next to mine. He said: ‘Why are you so black?’

“It wasn’t, of course, the color of my skin, it was the color of his skin, which he actually meant, because he was white. Everyone else in the class was white.

Grant was no more than five years old when he experienced an identity crisis: he was torn between his Aboriginal heritage and how white Australians expected him to behave.

His lack of stability only worsened as he was forced to move houses regularly as his father took on different jobs across the country.

‘My father got another job, that was the pattern of our lives. Dad would get more work…working in sawmills,’ he said.

‘It meant that by the time I got to high school I had been to about 15 different schools.’

Grant, who is a proud man of Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi, later took aim at ABC saying the national broadcaster had failed to become more inclusive.

Grant, who is a proud man of Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi, later took aim at ABC saying the national broadcaster had failed to become more inclusive.

Grant was no more than five years old when he experienced an identity crisis: he was torn between his Aboriginal heritage and how white Australians expected him to behave.

Grant was no more than five years old when he experienced an identity crisis: he was torn between his Aboriginal heritage and how white Australians expected him to behave.

Grant and his friends were ushered into a room by a headmaster who told the then 15-year-old and his cohort that he had better drop out of school because he “would be nothing.”

Of the children who dropped out of school, several of them ended up in drug and alcohol abuse. Some were imprisoned and others died at a young age.

Grant revealed that racism endured well into his adulthood and ranged from blatant to more subtle forms.

The seasoned journalist has over 30 years of television and radio experience and has interviewed some of the world’s most influential and inspiring people.

Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton and Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating have been among his guests.

Grant revealed the racism he endured into his adulthood and it ranged from blatant to more subtle forms.

Grant revealed the racism he endured into his adulthood and it ranged from blatant to more subtle forms.

Beneath the surface of his career was a darker part that still rankles Grant to this day.

“When I came to journalism there was no one who looked like me,” he said.

‘We weren’t presenting news or current affairs, we weren’t foreign correspondents, we weren’t political correspondents.

‘There was no one who looked like me. The highest form of praise when I got into journalism was to be called a white man. If you did something right, they’d say, ‘Good for you. You are a white man.

‘The only stories that were made about us were about scandals or failures. In a way, we were to blame for our own situation.

Grant ended his speech on an optimistic note that change could be achieved through a common understanding of human respect.

The seasoned journalist has over 30 years of television and radio experience and has interviewed some of the world's most influential and inspiring people.

The seasoned journalist has over 30 years of television and radio experience and has interviewed some of the world’s most influential and inspiring people.

“I’ve spent my life reporting on the bereaved, trying to look through the eyes of others, to see myself,” Grant said.

‘Wherever I have gone I have taken my story with me. It has knocked me down. It has brought me back to a country I have sought to escape from, because this is the only home I could truly have.

‘And all of you, you’re the only people I could really call my own. We are here on this earth, together, responsible for each other. It begins with the realization that this is an ancient land.’

The Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists organized the 2022 Congress to build “Stronger Bridges, Safer Harbours” and enhance connection, inclusion and creativity.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 any time of the day, seven days a week for anonymous guidance and support.

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