Residents of Yirrkala Aboriginal community and Channel Seven head to mediation in defamation case

Media Release – 16/09/2019

Members of a Yolgnu community in Arnhem Land will attempt to mediate their defamation and racial discrimination case against Channel Seven later this week.

Parties will engage in a mediation conducted by the Honourable Stanley Jones AO QC, former jurist of the Supreme Court, in the remote Aboriginal community of Yirrkala.

“We are committed to the mediation process and are hopeful that the matter can be resolved without recourse to further court time and expense” said Peter O’Brien, O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors.

The firm represents 15 plaintiffs, including 6 children, who have sued the Channel Seven network in the Federal Court for defamation, breaching of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975(Cth), and breaches of confidence, privacy and Australian consumer law.

The defamation lawsuit arose after the Sunrise Breakfast program broadcast footage of Indigenous Australians during a controversial panel discussion segment entitled, “Aboriginal Adoption, Proposal for White Families Should Take in Abused Kids”. The background footage, featuring Yolngu people, had been recorded for a different purpose, namely a community health promotion, and no permission had been given by those depicted for the use of the footage by the network.

Mediation is a standard feature of Federal Court disputes, and Mr O’Brien said it was the desirable form of resolution, “We have accepted this process in an attempt to avoid unnecessary and costly litigation.”