CQUniversity Australia

Engaging Indigenous people within Higher Ed

CQUniversity's Office of Indigenous Engagement recently hosted a visit from the Oodgeroo Unit of Queensland University of Technology (QUT), at Rockhampton Campus.

Professor Anita Lee Hong, Director of the Oodgeroo Unit, and Lone Pearce, Project Officer, met with Office of Indigenous Engagement staff to discuss employment issues and best practice models for engaging Indigenous people within the higher education sector, including governance matters.

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Hunt unearths treasure trove of regional history  

CQU doctoral researcher Christina Hunt has unearthed a treasure trove of regional history thanks to the ABC enabling access to 2 decades of TV videotape archives of local news and current affairs stories.

The archives span the period from 1963 to 1985 when a significant amount of broadcast material emanated from the Rockhampton studios including some before the advent of a microwave link from the south.

PhotoID:4987, Christina Hunt (front) with project supporters (from left) Margaret Rogers, Ross Quinn, Mike Tregaskis and Martin Powley
Christina Hunt (front) with project supporters (from left) Margaret Rogers, Ross Quinn, Mike Tregaskis and Martin Powley

With active support and involvement from the ABC through TV Production Officer Mike Tregaskis and ABC Capricornia Manager Martin Powley, Ms Hunt has now started to document the stories and recollections of people who worked for ABC TV Rockhampton over that period.

The ABC Board recently viewed highlights of the archive material during its board meeting in Rockhampton.

Tragically, among the stories covered were the 1983 plane crash that killed 4 members of ABC Rockhampton staff, followed a week later by the death of another in a motorbike accident.

Some of the many key stories covered included: devastating floods, the new Pilbeam Theatre, meatworks disputes, electricity disputes, royal visits, the crocodile farm development, Aboriginal land rights, the opening of Rockhampton Mall, the development of Iwasaki's Capricorn Resort and the protest and bombings that ensued and the search for shale oil near Gladstone.

There were also visits by Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Bob Hawke, Wayne Goss, The Village People and Peter Garrett, as well as stories on local people Vince Lester, Keith Wright, Doug Everingham, and Aboriginal rights campaigner Father Frank Brennan.

"Some significant milestones include the story of the ABC's 50th anniversary in 1982, when local ABC invited community members to join in celebrations and fly around the region in a DC-3 plane showing onboard interviews with Rockhampton citizens during the flight," Ms Hunt said.

The project mentor is CQU Adjunct Professor Ross Quinn, who recently retired after lengthy service as manager of ABC Capricornia and CQU's Dr Margaret Rogers is the project administrator.

Ms Hunt has produced a background overview of her project which explains the context for her study:

"With co-operation between the ABC and Central Queensland University, this research project began in 2006, and looked to unearth the history and community connection of ABC Television in the Rockhampton region, and to document the stories and recollections of those who worked there from its inception in December 1963.

"Revealed from behind the walls of the ABC Rockhampton studios, in one of the many National Trust buildings on Quay Street, is a highly valuable archival videotape collection, consisting of nearly 400 local news and current affairs stories from 1975 - 1985. The collection as a whole, documents a time in which ABC Television once had a major presence in the Rockhampton and Central Queensland region, and is a visual record of not only the people and events that shaped the Central Queensland region, but also of a significant period in the history of regional ABC Television.

"The collection is comprised of 290 News tape items (including 36 Library tapes), 36 Camera Three tapes, 35 Insight tape items containing 109 current affairs stories, and 6 Farmline stories, as well as several year-ender and goof tapes. There are also 81 further yet to be identified videotapes that have just been located in the special collections section of CQU's Library. Earlier 16mm news stories dating from 1965 onwards that have been located in ABC Brisbane Archives complete the story.

"Television was first introduced into Australia in 1956, and it took 9 years before it reached regional Rockhampton audiences in September 1963.

"ABC Television Rockhampton officially opened on December 21, 1963. Although not the first Rockhampton television station to open (which was RTQ7 on September 7, 1963), PMG technicians began work laying the conduit cable for ABC Television on August 2, 1963.

"This cable enabled transmission from the ABC's Quay Street studios to be sent to a microwave link terminal situated on the clock tower of the Rockhampton Post Office, and from there to the Mt. Hopeful transmitter. The race to be ‘first' heightened at this point, when RTQ7 announced their test pattern broadcast for August 19, 1963.

"Community concern at the time is reflected in local newspaper articles about possible aircraft hazards caused by TV antennas, or the detrimental effects of television on children, and about Australian content in television programs.

"Local businesspeople understood the impact television would have on their profits and began promoting television. Local sales of television sets boomed at the prospect of its coming, with more than 3000 television licences issued by November 22, 1963. In preparation for their opening, ABC test patterns began transmission on November 30, 1963. The ABC announced a 57-hour transmission week, and without a local film-processing department, all 16mm film shot locally was sent to Brisbane for processing.

"Rockhampton, Townsville, and Darwin alone gained a local TV presence in the 60's with many other similarly sized regional cities around Australia having radio only.

"In the first few years, all ABC TV output emanated from the Rockhampton studios before the advent of a microwave link from the south.

"Network program tapes had to be flown in on a daily basis and the ABC had an elaborate system in place where network shows such as, for example the BBC crime series Z Cars, went to air in Rockhampton one night, in Townsville on another, in Brisbane on another and so on. Considerable logistical challenges were experienced particularly when tapes were delayed. Before the advent of a networked program feed from the south, both local and networked programs were introduced by local evening announcer 'hosts', which personalized and added a real local feel to the ABC's output.

"From 1963 onwards, over the next 22 years until 1985, ABC Television in Rockhampton covered all news and current affairs issues and stories involving or affecting the Central Queensland region and its people, on film or videotape.

"However, the end of an era in regional television news and current affairs began on November 23 1984, when the closure of ABC Television Rockhampton was announced. Plans were to phase out ABC CQ TV by May 1986. This decision was made because of ABC policy changes, and technological developments and advances, such as the launching of a telecommunications satellite, and the introduction of a new current affairs program The National. The National went to air March 4, 1985."