Address at the launch of NITV’s Little J and Big Cuz

Simon Birmingham: Thank you so much for that introduction and welcome. Aunty Matilda, thank you for your welcome to country, and indeed, I’d like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples of the Canberra region, and all of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, and I often – in acknowledging country and Indigenous peoples around Australia as Education Minister – observe that we continue to learn more of Indigenous culture as a nation, to learn more from Indigenous culture as a nation, and to build upon that knowledge together as a nation. And perhaps those words that I say often in my acknowledgment are particularly valid today in here launching Little J and Big Cuz. Because of course, this is a profound way in which, in a very new way, we are going to help generations to absolutely learn more about Indigenous culture, to learn more from it, and indeed, hopefully together as a nation to build on that shared knowledge and opportunities to make ourselves a richer and more successful country in the future. 

Unlike Marshall, I only have two children, but they’re not too far apart in age from Marshal’s, four and six, and so I’m very conscious of the role and significance that media, technology, and television play in terms of the lives of children as they grow up. It’s a constant battle in any household in terms of what the best regulation is of television viewing, of access to devices, and how you make sure that you’re getting a balance between the pervasive impact of media and technology and the looming opportunities that exist from media and technology. Investments like this are a way to get win-win outcomes, to ensure that we’re providing entertainment while also providing rich learning capabilities. 

And this of course has been such a well-conceived concept and will be able to help to explain how it is that the early educational opportunities of this series come together to provide benefits that are much richer than a television program. It’s high quality production. It’s relevant, and of course particularly to young Indigenous students, but indeed, to young Australians, and hopefully young people all over the world, for the very real reasons that you heard from Marshal before about the reality that young people will find entertainment from a raft of different cultures, because of course young people are open. Their minds are open, and not clouded by some of the other prejudices that might come as age impacts all of us, perhaps. They’re actually open to fresh new ideas and thinking. This is a great opportunity to push forward, and they seized that. 

And I acknowledge a number of my Parliamentary colleagues who are here today to which I didn’t do from the outset, and in particular I notice Tanya Plibersek, my shadow counterpart, has just arrived. Welcome Tanya, and thank you for coming along today too.

As I mentioned, this series comes with fully integrated learning resources. Books, with the device, the apps that can be downloaded, the resources to be able to ensure that it is much more richer than actually just watching a television series. But hopefully, as you’ve heard, it is a television series that also takes off, takes off enthusiastically, not just on NITV, but across Australia and around the world in terms of the opportunity for people to learn more about Australia, about Indigenous Australia, and about our shared culture. Australia does have a rich history in children’s television. Happily, it’s not all just been about watching Peppa Pig or Frozen in my household, or Cars in Marshal’s household, but indeed, television programs that have become as iconic as Bananas in Panamas. Hopefully in years to come, Little J and Big Cuz will be as iconic as B1 and B2 in terms of the recognition they have across young Australians and all Australians for the impact on their lives and for the lessons they learned as a result of that; lessons of friendship, lessons of companionship, lessons of country, lessons of culture, lessons of course that help in terms of development.

So my sincere congratulations. I’m delighted to be able to join you today. It is a wonderful compliment to the hard work of the thousands of Australian teachers, early educators perform fall right across the country, as well as to the hard work that thousands of parents perform right across the country as well and instilling good values, good life lessons, and hopefully this will of course help them all in their tasks. Well done, and thank you.