(Photo credit Paul Wiles - CAAMA)
A Great Warrior and ambassador for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights Uncle James Daniel Remedio passed away peacefully yesterday surrounded by family and friends. Uncle Jim was 79 years old.
Uncle Jim Remedio was a proud Torres Strait Islander man and a well-respected Elder with a lifelong dedication to developing, sharing and promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, culture and knowledge through the media. In Victoria he has worked hard to highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and community development.
Uncle Jim was born in 1944 in Cairns, Far North Queensland to Torres Strait Islander parents. His mother Marcellina Pearl Remedio has kinship connections to Murray Island in the Torres Strait. Growing up in Cairns, Jim attended St Joseph’s Primary School and Cairns State High School. Jim left high school at the age of 14 in 1957 to begin a five-year apprenticeship as a Fitter and Turner and completed night school as part of this apprenticeship. Once qualified, he undertook a wide range of jobs across Northern Australia and quickly gained a reputation as a highly skilled and hardworking tradesman. At the age of 21 he started his first company, taking on a range of jobs in the construction industry. After moving to Victoria, Jim worked in construction roles in the power generation, oil, gas, aluminium and ship-repair industries before purchasing a farm and becoming a successful primary producer for over twenty years.
Uncle Jim had over 40 years’ experience in community and national radio media networks throughout Australia. He became involved with Local Community Radio in Bendigo and quickly saw the potential of this medium to give a voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. He was instrumental in the production and delivery of Indigenous Radio across the country. He, highlighted the land rights movement and human rights as well as connecting, informing and inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through news, current affairs, community information, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music to a larger national audience.
“I really loved it. I remember those days as being really active; the days of the Aboriginal Movement. We used to put on a lot of what was happing in the Aboriginal communities. In the days of the Marches we were very active. It was good because we were at the cutting edge of what was happening in Aboriginal Affairs.”
In addition, Uncle Jim was working at the same time in Bendigo as a Cultural Officer for the Dja Dja Wurrung Association and later became its Manager. His work as a Cultural Officer and assisted with the return of Aboriginal remains back to Country. At that time, his eldest daughter Teresa Remedio was a producer at the ABC and helped the local group setup the license and help with programming. This was instrumental in establishing the South Eastern Indigenous Media Association. Uncle became a broadcaster on the then 3CCC Colours Aboriginal Music show in Bendigo. He was a founding member of the National Indigenous Media Association of Australia, the original Board of the National Indigenous Television network (NITV), and also became a Community Broadcasting Foundation Grants Committee member for over twelve years.
Uncle was the Chairperson of many Indigenous Broadcasting peak bodies, including National Indigenous Media Association Australia. He also managed the establishment of the National Indigenous Radio Service and Remote Indigenous Media Services. His life and work experience provided Indigenous media across Australia, with management and strategic media development.
Uncle Jim has held a wide range of roles in the struggle for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and development. He was engaged by the Victorian Trades Hall Council to work on the Commonwealth’s Working Nation Employment and Training Strategy. Jim served on the Museum of Victoria’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, became an Inspector under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protection Act Part 2. He also was closely involved in setting up Aboriginal Community Justice Panels in Victoria.
As an experienced consultant, he was approached by the University of New South Wales’ Faculty of Law, as a Trainer for their Diplomacy Training Program and the Fred Hollows Foundation’s Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and Advocacy Training program for advocates. He was also engaged by Vision Stream and Telstra to provide land access agreements for rollout of broadband networks across Australia, which required extensive negotiation with Traditional Owner groups. In addition, he was Vice President Oceania for the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) a United Nations sponsored international community radio group that provided training for Indigenous Radio broadcasters in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
In the 2000s, Uncle moved into management of Indigenous Radio Stations, beginning with two years at Radio Larrakia in Darwin, followed by two at Yamatji Media in Carnarvon (Western Australia). Recruited because of his strong management reputation, Jim then moved to Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) Radio Alice Springs where, over seven years, he oversaw the growth of the station’s investment in technology and training to lift capacity and productivity, making CAAMA one of the premier radio stations in Australia.
In 2000, Uncle was awarded the Centenary Medal for Services to the Community. He was inducted onto the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll in 2019 and awarded the CBAA Michael Law Award in 2022.
In 2015, he took on the management of Melbourne Indigenous station Kool N Deadly (3KND), Melbourne’s first Indigenous owned and managed AM/ DIGITAL radio station. Uncle Jim brought a wealth of industry and governance experience with him. He had worked to develop a regional network to increase its sustainability, capacity and impact to reach a Victorian-wide audience and continues to support many other radio stations, including Queensland Remote Aboriginal Media (QRAM). Uncle Jim over the last few years returned to CAAMA as CEO and only recently left to pursue other adventures.
Uncle was a strong and proud warrior who has dedicated his life to supporting and advancing rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. He continued to use his platform to highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, culture, knowledge and rights. He was an important voice and extraordinary leader for his community.
He is survived by his daughters Teresa, Jane, Marcella and wife Dianne.
“We won’t close the gap in the country until we close the gap in media services – and that’s got to be a priority of primary concern for the government.” – Jim Remedio.