Sunrise host Sam Armytage, crowing moron Prue McSween, and Channel Seven itself, are collectively being sued in Federal Court for racial vilification, stemming from the morning show’s absurdly ill-conceived 2018 segment that effectively advocated for a new stolen generation.
Settlement negotiations in a previous Group Racial Discrimination Complaint that was filed with the Australian Human Rights Commission have reportedly collapsed, leading to the case being taken to Federal Court as of today. A group of Indigenous elders, award-winners, and young leaders is pushing the case forward, and have been at the forefront of the legal battle against Armytage, McSween, and Seven since September 2018.
A media release posted to social media a short time ago confirms that, owing to the breakdown in settlement negotiations, the Complainant Group has no alternative but to file suit in Federal Court on the grounds of racial vilification.
BREAKING: Channel 7, Samantha Armytage and Prue McSween to be sued in Federal Court for Racial Vilification pic.twitter.com/HR4q9IbvXt
— IndigenousX (@IndigenousX) June 11, 2020
The segment, which was broadcast on March 13th 2018, featured Armytage, McSween, alongside radio host Ben Davis. During the widely-panned discussion, both Armytage and McSween aired broad false statements about Indigenous children, with Armytage at one point claiming that Indigenous children could not be adopted by white families.
Armytage asserted “Post-Stolen Generation, there’s been a huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they’re being neglected in their own families.” McSween dug in further during the segment, stating “just like the first Stolen Generation where a lot of children were taken because it was for their well-being, we need to do it again.”
The segment attracted protest action outside the Sunrise studio in Martin Place, and was ultimately found to be in breach of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice. A September 2018 ruling from the Australia Communications and Media Authority asserted that the segment contained “strong negative generalisations about Indigenous people as a group.”
Following that, legal action was launched against Seven, Armytage, and McSween, lead by Aboriginal Elder Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor, and co-signed by a group of fellow Elders and young Indigenous leaders, including Lynda-June Coe and members of the Fighting in Solidarity Towards Treaties (FISTT) group who organised the initial protests outside Martin Place.
The segment was previously the subject of a separate defamation case filed by members of the Yirrkala Aboriginal Community, who were featured in unrelated file footage during the segment. That case reached Federal Court-approved settlement in December 2019, with Channel Seven paying out undisclosed compensation to the group and agreeing to issue a public apology.
Of this new case, Aunty Rhonda stated “This is a very important time for our people, with tens of thousands of Australians standing up to call for recognition, justice and reconciliation. People are standing up around the world calling out system and entrenched racism and saying ‘Enough!’ We have been fighting for so long for justice and to end racism in Australia – we just want accountability and equality.”
Aunty Rhonda’s statement continued “This nation-wide broadcast by Channel Seven in March 2018 was another symbol of national shame and another appalling example of the deeply entrenched virus of racism that still plagues white platforms of privilege in this country.”
She stated that Sunrise had “platformed wealthy white women calling for a Stolen Generations 2.0 as a means of salvation for our young people. This shameful, profoundly hurtful and devastating display of racism was broadcast by a commercial television station into homes right across Australia.”
“Channel Seven’s subsequent disingenuous downcast eyes and ‘we’re so sorry’ murmurs, after we protested and their racism was called out, mean nothing to us when they refuse all reasonable requests for proper reparation of the pulverising hurt, humiliation and distress we feel every single day of our lives.”
Channel Seven has yet to issue a formal statement in response to today’s developments.