Calls for government to Commit to Community Radio

Panorama, SYN Radio, May 7, 2013

Australia’s community radio workers are calling for the Federal Government to provide the sector with more funding.

The 2012 federal budget allocated $2.2 million per year for four years. However, this delivered a funding shortfall of $1.4 million per year, leaving

This comes after the Federal Government provided funding to launch digital radio services for 37 community radio stations in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth in 2011.

Panorama looked at the importance of community stations in their community and how the $1.4 million shortfall will affect their future.

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Community radio will face an uncertain future if the Federal Government doesn’t commit to funding the sector’s $1.4 million shortfall in this year’s budget.

The government has already allocated $2.2 million to the sector each year for the next three years. However, community stations have been left to find alternative ways to cover the ongoing costs of producing radio content.

Without the additional funding, community station workers say they will have to substantially reduce services and some close their doors to make up for the funding gap.

One of Victoria’s programs set to lose out if the Federal Government doesn’t deliver the required funding as previously promised, includes the Youth Empowerment Program in Horsham.

The program aims to integrate young people into the community and teach them skills in areas such as creative arts and media.

Participants in the program will learn how to create news content and broadcast it with Horsham’s community radio station triple HHH.

The program’s director and Coordinator, Nkandu Beltz, says a lack of funding for community radio would put her skills-based program at risk.

NKANDU BELTZ: If we can’t have SYN media, for example, coming to help us with training for young people, as a not-for-profit we cannot afford to give that opportunity to young people, so that means they’re missing out.

Ms Beltz founded a similar program in the West Australian town of Kununurra last year.

She says the program has not only proven to be successful but is also essential in broadening young people’s career opportunities in the media.

NKANDU BELTZ: With radio we’re also able to break cultural and social barriers between young people. It’s a great platform for us and its easier, it’s fun and kids get so much out of it.

As well a providing young people with the opportunity to express their opinions, Ms Beltz says the program also helps foster positive relationships between young people in the community.

NKANDU BELTZ: being in a remote area we have half of the population is indigenous and the other half in non-indigenous so we’re also promoting integration so young people coming together and working together for the benefit of the community as well as learning practical skills.

However, the funding shortfall wouldn’t just see several similar programs across the country cut.

3way FM president John McInnes says if the government doesn’t deliver the required funding as previously promised, some stations would be forced to close their doors.

JOHN MCINNES: As for regional trials and progressing to digital in the future I suppose one would have to think that’s under a cloud now…because for it to filter through to regions and smaller regional and rural areas like ours may never have another,  we wouldn’t have the budget ourselves to afford it without that. If analogues shut down, the old terrestrial FM that we’re on shuts down we’re gone, simple as that.

Minister for communications Stephen Conroy declined Panorama’s request for an interview.

Meanwhile, Mr McInnes says the nation’s community radio stations will continue to put pressure on politicians and hope for good news when the Budget is announced next week.

He encouraged Australians to support the Commit to Community Radio Campaign by visiting

JOHN MCINNES: We just hope people treasure what they’ve got and don’t let it slip away because once it’s gone it’s very hard for them to get it back. So we hope they commit and give us plenty of support.

Brianna Piazza, SYN Radio

Categories: news, politics, youth issuesTags: , , , , , , ,

Brianna Piazza

Journalist and travel writer.

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