Diversity is Australia, but is it Media?

What we see on Australian television is a clear representation of the society that we live in. Hardly.

The diversity of nationalities and cultures within Australia are severely underrepresented in the television shows shown on Australian broadcasting networks.

Dreher (forthcoming 2014) mentions that media matters because it not only reflects, but are players in key public debates, providing representations and frameworks which shape understandings and action. People care about what is in the media, it is the basis on how we view society. If the ‘white bread media’ framework continues to exist, how will the true multicultural aspect of Australian society ever be fairly represented?

Not only is what we see in different forms of media a misrepresentation of society, the producers and networks are ignoring the potential for reaching a far wider audience in both advertising and television.

Capel reports, that big brands such as Nike, McDonald’s and Apple have been tapping in on reflecting diversity for years and now these labels have become the go-to for people of every different nationality.

Why this largely open area of the market is being ignored is interesting. The potential for inclusivity and, money which it mostly comes down to, is huge. Why wouldn’t networks want to showcase diversity, it would be stupid not to.

Another example is the US television show on ABC (US), Grey’s Anatomy, which used a colour-blind casting technique to cast the roles in the show. The series creator used this technique back before 2005 when the show was first aired, where the characters ethnicities where not specified. Allowing for people of any nationality to audition for the roles, which resulted in a wide variety to be cast, such as people from african american descent, asian descent and so on.

Never once does the show refer to race which aids the elimination of racial stereotyping.

We have seen a slight change in the Australian mediascape in recent years, for example, the inclusion of an Indian family on the long running series Neighbours. This small step is encouraging but it is still not enough, when will we see a true reflection of Australian society as it is today?


Dreher, T (forthcoming 2014) ‘White Bread Media’ in the Media and Communciations in Australia eds. S Cunningham and S Turbull, Allen and Unwin.



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