Many years ago, we had this idea about lands rights. A return to the land, a "homeland movement" began which gave people the opportunity to live on their ancestral land, to continue traditions that have endured for centuries. We began to negotiate with the government for the return of the control of our land. We wanted the land, where our families used to work and live before the whitefellas came, returned to the people who have lived on those lands for thousands of years.
Even before the homelands and land rights movements, people had their own two-way radios allowing them to communicate between their home and the communities, where there were stores, clinics and other support services. Every morning everyone would get up and turn on the HF radio before they did anything else. They would tune in to any number of the conversations taking place. If someone was sick they would listen and then pass on the information to the doctor or nurse.
When discussions about land rights began in 1977, radio was already there. We started using the radio to send out messages to everybody. It was like sending out faxes to every community or homeland about the meeting to be held somewhere. The radio had even started broadcasting the Pitjantjatjara Council meeting at Ernabella, from next to where EVTV was born, in the old clinic.
The mission used to have an old clinic in the building where EVTV was born. Donald Fraser started using the radio to broadcast news when he was chairperson of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Council. Later, Yami Lester, a Yankunytjatjara elder, became the chairperson of the Council and took over the radio responsibilities. He delivered the "Pitjantjatjara News" every morning. Radio gave out news across the land. People across the Lands were listening to the news, and public discussions about Freehold Land.
A lot of people would come and join the meetings. Lots of people from Western Australia: from Warburton and that area; from the Northern Territory: from Mutitjulu and Docker River, Imampa, and Finke. People from all over the Lands would come to the meetings to join in and talk about lots of issues concerning the land rights struggle.
It went on and on until we got our land back in 1981. It took us four years to fight for our land.
After we got the land, the radio news went on for a little awhile, but then it faded away. Nobody was interested in listening to the news. They were more interested in talking. Everybody used to be very busy talking about a lot of things.
The government threw many issues at us to think about and talk about. The government, instead of moving away and letting us think about and plan our own future, continued to interfere. Straight away, we were talking about things like mining. A company from Canada negotiated mining rights with us. Those discussions provided some understanding about how the mining business worked. While that first mining effort failed, there were other mining negotiations going on at the time.
In short, the executive was very, very busy dealing with issues with government and from local people. Because, the radio news service broke down, things were getting out of control. Community governance was suffering. Because there was no news, people were not happy with their representatives. We would go to meetings and end up talking about communication because people didn't know what we were doing.
Responding to the problem, Donald Fraser began to revisit some of his earlier dreams and ideas about radio. Perhaps radio should be revitalised and upgraded so that people could hear what's going on throughout the Anangu Pitjantjatjara (AP) land. During an executive meeting or general meeting, a radio telephone system could be hooked up and networked to all the communities. People would be happy listening to the discussions. In that way, everybody would know what the meetings would be all about and what they could hope to achieve. Radio would be for the benefit of the Anangu tjuta and the traditional owners.
To follow-up on the radio idea, Mr. Fraser went and saw a man called Ushma Scales (the "Bush Ranger"). They discussed the idea of starting up the radio. At first, they started talking about broadcasting on the AM band so that everybody could listen all day. Somebody might do music, another news, and there would be the broadcast of announcements and discussions.
After a few years of discussion and planning, Radio 5NPY was inaugurated in May 1998. In keeping with the times, it follows a different format. Radio 5NPY became FM satellite radio, which has technological distribution advantages over AM for broadcasting to the people living on a remote and diverse land.
On July 1st, there was an annual general meeting of the PY Media Board of Directors. Donald Fraser was elected as the director. Under the PY Media umbrella, there will be radio transmission from nearly every community on the AP homelands and from major communities along the border in the Northern Territory. People will not have to travel to be heard. They can talk, play music, and give information from their home communities. Lots of people are really happy with this new radio in the communities.
First EVTV and now Radio 5NPY celebrates Anangu owned and controlled media on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands.
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