ABC boss Ita Buttrose criticised for using the term ‘Aborigines’ in speech

ABC chair Ita Buttrose has been accused of failing to comply with the broadcaster’s own editorial style guide in a major speech where she referred to First Nations people as “Aborigines”.

Ms Buttrose used the term in Sydney on Friday night as she delivered an annual media lecture in honor of distinguished journalist Andrew Olle, who died in 1995 at age 48.

While speaking about Mr Olle’s work, she said “he’d tell the stories of Aborigines, the mentally ill, the poor and the powerless … stories, at that time, with no assured place on the mainstream media’s agenda”.

ABC chair Ita Buttrose has been criticized for using a term considered offensive to First Nations people.
Camera IconABC chair Ita Buttrose has been criticized for using a term considered offensive to First Nations people. Credit: supplied

Former ABC, SBS and NITV journalist Jennetta Quinn-Bates took offense at use of the term “Aborigines” and she took to Twitter to highlight it was not in-line with the ABC style guide.

“She’s still calling us Aborigines and basically reminding First Nations people we’re lucky for any airtime at all,” Ms Quinn-Bates wrote.

“Message received loud and clear. Sincerest apologies to my former ABC indigenous colleagues.”

After her initial comments, Ms Quinn-Bates posted screenshots of the ABC editorial style guide, which directs staff to “avoid Aboriginal outside of quotes”.

Ms Quinn-Bates said while Ms Buttrose could argue it was “only a guide”, she called for “some respect please”.

“You would think one would be familiar with the policies and standards of the organization they chair,” Ms Quinn-Bates posted.

Responding to comments on her Twitter post, Ms Quinn-Bates said “speaking this way sets a terrible example”.

“Leaders are meant to be admirable, not ignorant and borderline racist,” she said.

“This is unacceptable.”

According to Amnesty International, the term “Aborigine” is considered insensitive because it has racist connotations from Australia’s colonial past.

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