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Australian Children’s Television Foundation: Inspire, Entertain, Engage

I think that it’s important that through
shows, kids get exposed to the different elements of Australian culture. We want to be sending out the right messages. It’s important for them to see that the way
their family is, and the way they live is no different to what’s projected on TV. Get out of that bed of yours! What? I’m being supportive, that’s what mates do. It gives kids a cultural identity. A lot of the role models that kids get are from TV shows. Once they were near the Opera House, and in the background you could see the Sydney Harbour Bridge. That was awesome. When I’ve used the My Place program in class, at the beginning the children tend to be drawn
in by it because it’s so different. Straight away as a teacher, you sort of jump on it and go “ahh, that’s brilliant!” That’s exactly what I want to see, that’s
exactly the way it needs to be projected to the children. Sometimes, it may be educational, but they don’t even realise that. So when they see these shows, they can put a real life perspective on what it is they’re actually understanding and learning about in class. If you can have shows that are exposing them to different ideas, but at the same time drawing them in, allowing them a window into other situations, that entertainment value is important. Because if they’re not going to be engaged
by what they’re watching, then any of that value goes out the window. The Australian values that are projected are often to do with a “don’t give up” attitude, or that we persevere. I like it how you actually have a role
model to look up to, and you actually have a chance of seeing them, maybe, on the streets and stuff. I wanted to make a film for my kids.
I’ve got twelve and eleven-year-old daughters. And I realised that they hadn’t seen a film
where the heroes were Australian kids. I thought “Hey, come on!” They’ve got to have heroes that are like them, not just American kids. It was a new thing for us, kids TV. But we thought it would be fun. So it was just blind naivety and stupidity I suppose, that was the original motivation. With teen drama, and especially something different, I think there were different challenges. There is the need to have international marketplace attachment. There’s certainly a bigger burden on this sort of programming. My Place is a really important story. It’s a great history of Australia, told through the eyes of kids. but it was really hard to finance, because it is so Australian. We got as far as the international finance,
and then it ground to a halt. With the potential of it to sell to overseas,
the view of the market is that people haven’t seen these sorts of shows before. So there were some challenges in meeting the market. I really needed to assure the networks that I would be able to deliver on what we promised. And I went to the ACTF and asked for their help. So when we actually took the idea to the ABC, they were a little bit dubious because it wasn’t in their normal landscape. So then we went to the ACTF. They immediately saw the potential. They’ve got a history of making films for
kids and making TV for kids. They understand that audience. Rocking is about to commence. We needed another partner, someone to make it happen. The ACTF were those people. They came
on really early. Once we’d got the scripts and proved that this was a really exciting show, they certainly came in with full production support. That really got us across the
line. There’s so much good international television which we are absolutely flattered with, But you do want to reflect your own environment, and the ACTF are the biggest advocates for that. And in fact, they do the reverse of that, because they tell an Australian story, and then they’re selling to 100 countries. They embraced it. In a way that I felt I had
a great partner. If it weren’t for the ACTF, those kinds of
programs would never get made. That shows everybody that kids and families want to see Australian content on our screens. It makes (the students) feel part of it. They know that they’re just as important as every other individual. It’s actually an extraordinary thing. Now that I stop to think about it. I think I’ve taken them for granted! Like all good relationships.

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