On Monday August 4th ABC’s Q&A program was broadcast live from the Garma festival on Yolngu country in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory featuring its first all-Indigenous panel. Each week, as viewers comment en masse on Twitter, selected tweets are displayed live onscreen. This first Q&A which exclusively focused on Indigenous issues set the Twittersphere alight with tweets from around the country, and the Indigenous panelists were applauded for providing respectful discussion and honest dialogue.

@MichaelByrnes No petty sniping, party political slogans, self-indulgent questions Can every ‪#qanda please be like this

@MarkTregonning It’s painfully obvious how much more respectful & less interrupting this ‪#qanda panel is compared to old white big party male pollies

The six Indigenous panellists included two Yolngu panelists, Djawa Yunupingu (senior member of the Gumatj community) and Dhäŋggal Gurruwiwi (Gälpu Elder) alongside Senator Nova Peris, federal MP Ken Wyatt, chairman of the Cape York Partnership Noel Pearson, and chief executive of the Northern Land Council Joe Morrison. The show was the most expensive in the history of Q&A, however it seemed money well spent. Australian viewers tweeted their appreciation as topics including land rights, Indigenous education and languages, racism, walking in two cultures, constitutional recognition and welfare recommendations were yarned onscreen.

@BlackfellaFilms I applaud the ‪@ABCTV for taking ‪#qanda to ‪#Garma and providing a platform for Indigenous Australians. ‪#everyonesabc very proud!

@KayeWinnell Thank you ‪#qanda for giving me some hope for our country tonight.

@PatsKarvelas Reaction to this ‪#qanda demonstrates that Australians are desperate to engage on aboriginal culture. We need to provide more opportunities

@NedaVanovac Yolngu leaders speaking amazingly tonight, so thoughtful and articulate in what’s perhaps a third or fourth language ‪#qanda

Q&A executive producer Peter McEvoy had said prior to the show that he hoped it would provide a national spotlight on Indigenous affairs stating, “Australians tend to be a bit inward-looking and parochial and they don’t focus on international or regional affairs. Q&A is a great way to give national attention to things.”

Questions regarding Aboriginal culture and identity under colonialism, children in schools who are bilingual and bi-cultural, the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, and the loss of Indigenous languages all sparked passionate discussion and tweets from viewers at home. Ben Long, a 16 year old Darwin student who left his community to attend boarding school, shared the wishes of his parents who wanted him to have access to opportunities. Discussion moved to issues of access to quality schooling, the lack of resources in regional and remote communities, Aboriginal cultural identity and racism.

@QandA Racism hurts. It hurts to the bone. Just be proud of who you are.

‏‪@beyondblue It was a powerful discussion on the impact of racism on ‪#QandA last night

Amanda Langlois asked whether the current federal government is truly sincere about closing the gap in light of the withdrawal of funding for programs like the Deadly Awards. Senator Nova Peris, close friend of the late Gavin Jones, founder of the Deadly’s, responded with strong and emotional words regarding her disappointment toward the governments apparent lack of support for initiatives and frontline services empowering and inspiring Indigenous people in Australia. Onscreen tweets displayed many messages of support for empowerment and self-determination from Indigenous and non-Indigenous viewers.

 

‪@SimonShiekh Tonight’s panel is proving we’d be better governed if we had more Indigenous people around the cabinet table ‪#qanda

@julsandem: Walking proud & determined we must do it as victors and not victims

‪@venVirupa: ‪#qanda empowerment of the people by leadership by the indigenous elders

The all-Indigenous panel discussed the tricky walk between two worlds – their commitment to their Indigenous communities as well as to their mainstream roles, without compromising values or culture.

@ABCNewsIntern Ken Wyatt saying things that would make the rest of his party flip the fuck out. ‪#qanda

‪@sparkypossum Learners and Leaders. No silly talk of leaners and lifters.

This groundbreaking episode needs watching in full to gain a complete understanding of the topics discussed. What the show did was inspire Australian viewers to consider Indigenous issues, but more importantly, to take action. McEvoy’s hope that the show would give national attention to Indigenous issues seemed to be met.

@AretiMetuamate We need to ensure this important national conversation tonight on ‪#qanda is continued beyond the couch, Twitter & TV screen

‪@jaredhinds9: Small steps, but Australia it’s time to start walking the walk!

@Brocklesnitch hi ‪#qanda just a suggestion, instead of ‘women week’ or ‘indigenous week’ for e.g, why not feature them more each week? Okay thanks g’night

The show is available for viewing on the Q&A website at http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s4040700.htm