Malarndirri McCarthy

Award Winning Indigenous Journalist, Speaker & MC

Malarndirri McCarthy is a Yanyuwa woman from Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory. A multi-award winning journalist, she has produced and/or presented news and current affairs programs for ABC television and radio, SBS and NITV news.

Malarndirri McCarthy has also been a successful Australian politician with the Northern Territory Labor government. During her time in government, she had responsibility for ministerial portfolios including tourism, women’s policy, Indigenous development, regional development, local government, families and children and statehood.

Malarndirri joined the ABC under the Aboriginal Journalist Cadet program her career as a journalist as a cadet in 1989 before working across Australia as a news and current affairs television and radio reporter. In 1993, after a trial run at presenting the late news from Sydney, Malarndirri became the weeknight newsreader for ABC News in Darwin. Additionally she worked on the award winning documentaries Stolen Children and A Dying Shame.

Malarndirri co-established Borroloola’s first community radio station, B102.9FM The Voice of the Gulf in 1998 with assistance from the ABC, and also set up the Lijakarda Cultural Festivals & Media, Arts and Training Centre for Yanyuwa, Kudanji, Garrawa and Mara people from Borroloola. Over the years she has participated on the Australia Arts Council’s Community Development Fund, contributed on behalf of Indigenous women on the Federal Government’s Office of Women committees, was patron for SIDS & Kids NT for 12 years and a member of Emily’s List and Women’s Network NT.

In 2005, Malarndirri, then known as Barbara McCarthy, became the Member for Arnhem when she was preselected to replace the retiring member Jack Ah Kit. She received 73.9% of the two-party preferred vote, a 12.5% increase on Ah Kit’s result and became one of ten women in the 25 seat assembly, considered at the time to be in the top 10 in the world in male to female ratio in a parliament.

Malarndirri’s first term was highlighted by crossing the floor, with two other ALP members, to vote against the government’s decision to divert the McArthur River to allow more mining developments, on spiritually cultural and environmental grounds, in her home country of Borroloola.

In 2008, following unopposed re-election, she was promoted to the ministry and was the Minister for Children and Families, Child Protection, Statehood, Women’s Policy, Senior Territorians, Young Territorians and the Minister Assisting the Chief Minister on Multicultural Affairs. As Minister for Children & Families, she recommended a Board of Inquiry to conduct a broad-ranging public inquiry under the Inquiries Act into the Northern Territory’s child protection system.

At the 2012 election she was defeated by Country Liberal Party challenger Larissa Lee amid Labor’s collapse in the remote portions of the Territory.

Malarndirri returned her focus to the media, producing and presenting Week in Review and Point In Review on SBS & NITV, and presenting The Point alongside Stan Grant. In 2013 she won the Deadley’s Inaugural Award in Journalism for her breaking story on two Indigenous brothers in Saudi Arabia. Also that year she received two Walkley nominations for her story about a car company advertisement filmed on the culturally significant site of Wave Rock in WA.

In 2014 Malarndirri won the Multicultural and Indigenous Media Awards 2014 Journalist of the Year and was a part of the NITV teams’ Walkleys nomination in 2014 for NITV’s coverage of the Bowraville families.

In 2015 she received Logie nominations for NITV News coverage of a NSW Police raid on a Moree family to remove eight children, and for 2015 National & International Cultural Media Coordination on Cairns funeral of eight children.

An inspirational woman, Malarndirri McCarthy is passionate about seeing Indigenous young people stay at school through to Year 12, and on to tertiary study and work. She works closely with Sydney schools to foster the educational development of Indigenous students, and with her insightful stories about her Aboriginal culture as well as her career in the media and politics, is a highly sought after MC and speaker.

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