Australia’s National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council (NEMBC) has launched a National Multilingual News Service (MNS) and is producing daily news bulletins in six languages with plans for expansion.
According to NEMBC Executive Producer Director Russell Anderson, “The MNS is produced by ethnic community radio broadcasters in Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Punjabi, Pacific Islander English and Mandarin, with plans to include Indonesian, Vietnamese and an Asian English program.”
The daily five-minute news bulletins are available for free to any ethnic community broadcasters wishing to play them on their programs. Broadcasters can listen to the programs on Soundcloud or request an MP3 file via email@example.com to receive bulletins daily before midday from Monday to Saturday.
“The NEMBC was concerned that non-English speaking people were not receiving the necessary news and health information during the coronavirus pandemic. Research shows that ethnic communities are the highest rated group feeling the stress (79%) of this pandemic compared to those people with English as their first language (61%),” said Mr Anderson.
Australia is a country known for its media diversity and multilingual community broadcasting plays an important role connecting ethnic communities on a local level; reaching at least 2.3 million listeners on an average per week” said Mr Anderson.
“It’s important for the ethnic broadcast sector to produce their own programs in a style that reflects the connectedness of those communities and provides news, health information and empowering stories of diversity.”
“The MNS is an initiative that demonstrates how ethnic community broadcasting can take the lead in a time of crisis. The MNS shows how dynamic and responsive the sector can be by establishing this news agency within a matter of weeks,” said Mr Anderson.
“The MNS is now rolling out in most capital cities across Australia, with more towns and cities coming on board this week. At its full capacity producing 16 languages a day this service has the potential to reach 1.7 million non-English speaking people on a weekly basis,” said Mr Anderson.
While Australia is now in the process of easing lock-downs, the MNS will play an important role for vulnerable communities to reconnect, address ‘spikes’ or new ‘waves’ of the coronavirus and to alleviate personal stress during post-crisis recovery. Returning to work, the economic downturn, border and migration issues will be some of the problems addressed.
“Rather than wait for external funding, the NEMBC is funding the pilot service to show its viability and value. The NEMBC will continue to seek government, non-government and philanthropist support to maintain the service beyond the next few months,” said Mr Anderson.