Video message to the MediaMe Conference


Simon Birmingham:     Hey guys, I’m so sorry I can’t be there with you at the inaugural MediaMe Conference. It’s great to know that such a dedicated, enthusiastic group of young Australians have gathered together to talk about media, its impact on our country, our society, and on you guys in particular. I’m here in the Channel 9 studio at Parliament House and this is just one example of the many different ways that media interacts nowadays. Of course, even companies like Channel 9 reach out to you using social media platforms, using a whole range of different technologies; not just the box as used to be the case. And it’s that changing face of media that makes the engagement of young people like you so much more significant in terms of hearing your voice about how we can help young Australians to manage their engagement with the media.

I really want to thank Crinkling News for hosting this event, for providing this impetus for an inaugural conference that brings young voices together. I know they’ve done so with support from others such as Google, Facebook, NewsLab; all of those as well as the Museum of Australian Democracy,  QUT, Western Sydney University; all of them helping to shape the type of debate and voices that you guys have been engaging in. Earlier today I understand you had a debate about whether or not news is relevant to kids; now, that’s a really important topic because of course if it’s not relevant to you, you won’t be engaging with it. But relevance is only one thing. Is it indeed news, or is it opinion? How do you distinguish between real news or fake news? How do you make sure that your voice is heard in the news cycle as well? These are all very important questions that I know you’ve been debating. I’m pleased to know that my Senate colleague and parliamentary colleague Senator Sam Dastyari has been there joining with you for part of those proceedings.

You know, media can make or break people like Sam or I. They create the circumstances where we, of course, can get our voice out there, or find ourselves under attack and assault. And for us, living with the media is a day-to-day thing, but for you as consumers, but also potential future makers of media, your development of skills in this space will be central to your future engagement; whether that’s in the media or not, because media skills and knowledge can particularly help you in terms of many of the jobs of the future: science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the like.

So really, I look forward to getting your action plan, to hearing what it is you’re recommending that politicians, governments do, to help ensure that in the future, we’re actually giving you the type of assistance and policies and support you need through schools, through other fora to communicate, to engage, to connect with media, to understand it, to get the most out of it, and for some of you in the future, to help make it and shape it too.

Good luck and enjoy.