A photo of a musician

CBAA new National Cultural Policy submission

Frieda Lee, 31st August 2022

The CBAA has made a submission to the consultation on a new National Cultural Policy. The CBAA emphasised the unique and transformative role played by community broadcasters in supporting creative and cultural industries to find an audience and build a platform for growth. We highlighted the incredible work that stations are doing to champion local arts and artists. We called for the new policy to recognise community broadcasting as an integral part of the arts and culture ecosystem in Australia.

Read our submission below or on our submissions page.


August 2022

Community broadcasting is a critical enabler of art, entertainment and cultural industries in Australia

Submission on a new National Cultural Policy


Gotye, Baker Boy, Courtney Barnett and thousands of other Australian musicians had their first airplay on community radio. Community radio is the springboard that jumps artists from the sheds to the charts. Community radio producers, many who are dedicated, music-loving volunteers, are the tastemakers of Australian music across all genres and subgenres.

Comedians, choirs, dancers, theatre-makers, filmmakers, authors, opera singers, painters, puppeteers, playwrights and poets use community media as a platform to share their work and reach their audiences. Stations offer touring artists a way to connect with the local community. The sector offers employment, training and pathway in media, music production, songwriting, podcasting, tech, event management and arts critiquing. Community media organisations act as producers, publishers, promoters, curators and recording labels. Community broadcasters partner with artists and arts organisations to organise festivals, events, exhibitions and live performances. 

Community broadcasters welcome the Government’s efforts to swiftly re-establish an arts and culture policy for Australia. The former Creative Australia policy acknowledged the investment in community radio’s Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap) and the Community Broadcasting Program. But Creative Australia failed to recognise the unique and transformative role played by community broadcasters in supporting creative and cultural industries to find an audience and build a platform for growth. Community broadcasting is an integral part of the arts and culture ecosystem in Australia.

The impact of community broadcasting

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia is the peak body for over 450+ licensees deliver over 500 community radio services on AM, FM and DAB+.

  • Community radio stations broadcast nationwide to an audience of over five million people per week.
  • 25% of Australians living outside of metropolitan areas listen each week.
  • One third of people who regularly speak a language other than English in their household listen to community radio each week.
  • One third of community radio stations are First Nations Media with four out of ten of people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander listen to community radio each week.
  • 35% of people tune in to hear music not available on other stations and 33% tune in to hear Australian music and local artists.
  • On average, community radio stations broadcast 37% Australian music each week[1] exceeding the 25% required under the Community Broadcasting Codes of practice. Many stations well exceed this quota.
  • The CBAA’s Amrap is a community radio initiative that distributes and promotes contemporary Australian music to community radio stations nationwide promotes sharing to other markets like the USA. Amrap helps get new Australian music airplay, and supports community radio broadcasters to promote new Australian music on air and online.
  • First Nations Media Australia's indigiTUBE project gathers First Nations stories from the desert to the sea, connecting and sharing culture from extremely remote to urban regions; from fresh new talent to archived histories. indigiTUBE is a digital meeting place for First Nations song, dance, language and lore. It livestreams 27 different radio stations.
Community media champions First Nations voices

Community broadcasters strongly support the new National Cultural Policy’s prioritisation of First Nations voices as the policy’s first pillar and the centre of arts and culture in Australia.

First Nations media organisations are essential champions of First Nations music, stories and culture. They nurture and support First Nations artists and are a conduit for the production and a promotion of their work. Just over 30% of community broadcasters are First Nations media organisations. They provide access to First Nations arts and culture to around 320,000 First Nations people, including around 100,000 very hard to reach people in remote Indigenous communities, or nearly 50% of the First Nations population.[2] Four out of ten of people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (38%) listen to community radio during a typical week.[3]

Community media has launched the careers of many well-known First Nations artists. Brisbane singer-songwriter Emily Wurramara’s first EP ‘Black Smoke’, sung in both English and Anindilyakwa, had 10 weeks in the CBAA’s Amrap charts and over a period of six months was played on 112 community radio stations. Arrernte/Gurindji artist Dan Sultan’s connection to community radio was so strong he became the first CBAA’s Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap) Ambassador in 2014. Baker Boy - aka Danzal Baker – is one of the biggest artists in Australian music and a long-time supporter of community radio. In 2022 Baker Boy co-hosted the final episode of Global Beat: Australia – a community radio led partnership showcasing Australian music to a US audience.

80 new and emerging First Nations artists and 97 deadly tracks have hit the radio airwaves through FIRST SOUNDS a series of music compilations curated by a panel of eminent First Nations music professionals and distributed to community radio stations via CD, Amrap and indigiTUBE (an online media platform by and for First Nations people.)

The sector spearheads countless initiatives to support First Nations artists e.g. Koori Radio presents the annual Yabun Festival, a diverse line-up of music, dance, speak-out panelists and stallholders. First Nations media organisation PAW Music has teamed up with MusicNT's Regional Areas Music Program and 8CCC community radio to run remote workshops on PA Setup, mixing, rehearsing for a gig and running a concert. Radio 3KND (KoolNDeadly) annually curates a top 100 Indigenous songs of all time list. The Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) in Alice Springs is also Australia’s oldest Aboriginal record label - recording, supporting and promoting Indigenous Australian music for over 40 years.

Community broadcasting provides a place for every story

Providing a place for every story is one of the guiding principles of community broadcasting. The sector gives voice to artists, musicians and creatives from communities that are underrepresented in the Australian cultural landscape – including First Nations Australians, communities in regional and remote Australia, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, faith-based communities, youth and seniors’ communities, the LGBTQIA+ community, people with a disability, and diverse arts and music sub-cultures. In doing so it promotes the diverse and unique identities of Australians that enriches the social and cultural fabric of Australian society.

Here are some examples of community radio initiatives promoting diverse cultural activity and creative industries:

  • 4EB Brisbane’s Ethnic community station supports local artists with diverse backgrounds through projects like Music Masala a compilation of 13 artists with backgrounds ranging from Latvia to Thailand recorded at the 4EB studios; Van Jam which re-imagines an outdoor broadcast van as a mobile performance stage for bands; and Radyo Palaro a radio play series presented by youth members of the Filipino community to teach them about their culture and audio content creation.
  • Vision Australia Radio partnered with Arts Access Australia to better promote the incredible contribution of artists who are blind or have low vision across Australia and connect them with hundreds of thousands of listeners nationwide via the Vision Australia Radio network.
  • Christian Media & Arts Australia has an Emerging Artists Playlist which profiles artists of Christian faith to Christian radio stations. This year Christian radio listeners can vote for the Australian Artist of the Year in the Annual Christian Media & Arts Australia Excellence in Media Awards People’s Choice Award.
  • JOY 94.9 in partnership with Monash Gallery of Art, Monash Council created ‘Being a voice’ an opportunity for LGBTIQA+ young people aged 15-25 to share their experience of being part of the rainbow community in photographs accompanied by audio recordings in the Monash Gallery of Art’s Atrium Gallery.
  • In partnership with Creative Victoria the CBAA’s Amrap brought together artists like Cable Ties, Dirty Soles and That Gold Street Sound for five live music events curated and produced by five regional Victorian community radio stations 3MDR (Belgrave), 3WAY (Warrnambool), 3MGB (Mallacoota), 3 HOT FM (Mildura) and MAIN FM (Castlemaine).
Community broadcasting supports artists as workers

For musicians, comedians, theatre makers and visual artists, community radio plays a key role in the monetisation of their art enabling them to work towards a sustainable career as an artist.

Comedians transition through community radio to public and commercial radio and television. Comedy dup Ben Harvey and Liam Stapleton met volunteering at Adelaide’s community radio station Fresh 92.7 went on to host shows on Triple J and Nova. Tom Ballard was a presenter for Warrnambool's 3WAY FM community radio station. Sam Pang started out on Triple R Melbourne Independent radio and is a regular feature on Australian TV shows.

Many locally and internationally successful Australian artists get their first airplay on community radio. Gotye – as a self-funded, self-recorded artist, Wally De Backer first submitted music to 2SER under the Gotye name in 2002, well before his international success in 2011 with ‘Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)’. His 2002 recording ‘Boardface’ was subsequently an album of the week on 2SER before the album got wider release through De Backer’s first record deal. The only interview De Backer did after he won three Grammy Awards in 2013 was with 2SER. Melbourne artist Courtney Barnett who is now one of the biggest independent artists in the world who received strong initial support from community radio and continues to do so as her music gets wider notice. Australian Christian rock band Newsboys have been played on community radio from early on in their careers and have gone on to international fame with nominations for four Grammy Awards.

Independent and professional live performance, exhibitions, museums, films, books, festivals, gallery openings and sculpture walks are supported through ticket giveaways, interviews, reviews and profiles on community radio. These events often start small with support of localised promotion on community radio before they can grow to become bigger features on the cultural calendar. Right now on Radio Adelaide you might hear about the Prospect Art Walk, the SALA Festival, or listen to the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra talk about supporting their work through the Musical Chairs program. On RTR in Perth you can find out what’s on at the Blue Room Theatre, hear about the latest Australian book release on Bunch of Books or hear how Regional Arts WA Artist of the Month Chloe Flockart reaches people through puppetry. On youth community media organisation SYN Media you can hear reviews of acrobatic performance On by Circa, Damien Power’s stand-up show Regret Man, and No Hat, No Play! The Cabaret. On Armidale 2ARM you might discover a new Australian author with Writers on the Road visiting the studio as part of Byron Writers Festival. On Eastside Radio you can listen to the curator of The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards Arts Wednesday.

Community broadcasters provide training and skills development

Community broadcasting is an important conduit for skills, training and employment in the creative and cultural industries and is a launchpad for Australian creatives, arts workers, broadcasters, composers, songwriters, performers, critics and producers to expand their reach and launch their careers.

Community radio stations provide training and mentoring programs for diverse musicians and artists e.g. FBi Radio runs Dance Class to support the next generation of female, non-binary and trans talent in electronic music. Fresh 92.7 helps launch careers through songwriting development programs, a monthly residency program and open house forums hosting conversations with established musicians. The Koori Radio Music Residency offers 6 opportunities for NSW based, First Nations musicians to access $5K in-kind support + $5k in cash toward recording an EP. SYN Media gives young people 15-25 a voice in the Australian media, providing training and development to 300+ volunteers and 3,500+ students annually in radio production, television, podcasting and online content. They also operate a successful social enterprise, SYN Media Learning, which trains and hires young facilitators to deliver educational media programs to schools and community groups."

The Community Media Training Organisation offers media ready training for artists and musicians covering skills like writing press releases, interviewing, and promoting your content on social media. They also deliver a course on arts reporting, reviewing and Interviews that foster the tastemakers of Australian culture and creativity.

Artists meet their audiences via community broadcasting

Through community radio, Australian artists are introduced to their first audiences. The local and diverse nature of community radio means that are an accommodating incubator for artists. Collectively, the community radio sector helps artist access millions of people who tune in specifically to get their culture-fix or hear what’s happening in their local community. Community radio provides a platform for music makers, playwrights, poets, storytellers and stand-ups to share their work and get noticed. And when artists make work that can’t be broadcast through the airwaves community radio supports them by promoting their work with local audiences to get bums on seats and people through the door.

5 million people aged 15+ tune in to community radio each week. 25% of Australians living outside of metropolitan areas listen each week. One third of people who regularly speak a language other than English in their household listen to community radio each week. Four out of ten of people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander listen to community radio each week. 35% of people tune in to hear music not available on other stations and 33% tune in to hear Australian music and local artists.[4]

On average community radio stations broadcast 37% Australian music each week exceeding the 25% required under the Community Broadcasting Codes of practice. Nationally, 16,166 hours of Australian music is broadcast by community radio stations collectively each week.[5] Many stations set higher Australian music targets. 4ZZZ averages 60% Australian music and 32% local music. FBi often exceeds its quotas of 50% Australian music with half of that from Sydney, 50% of songs added are by people of colour, 50% by women and gender diverse people and 25% by women and gender non-conforming people of colour.   

Fostering and facilitating the sharing of art is critical to the vibrancy of a cultural landscape. Community radio connects artists with their audiences. It provides a platform for great art to be discovered, great music to be heard and great stories told to help us grow and learn as individuals and as a community.


Community radio is a critical asset in Australia’s cultural landscape. For artists, getting played on community radio is often the first step on the pathway to national and international success.

The tenets of community radio align very strongly to the pillars of the 2013 Creative Australia policy. However, the role of community broadcasting was not well recognised in this policy.

The transformational role of community radio for artists must be recognised in the new strategy and leveraged for impact in the new National Cultural Policy.


The new National Cultural Policy should recognise and refer to the critical, unique and transformative role played by community radio in nurturing Australian artists, strengthening creative and cultural industries, and launching Australian musicians onto the national and international stage.


[1] Community Broadcasting Sector Programming & Technology Survey (2018) www.cbaa.org.au/sites/default/files/media/CBAA%20Programming%20Technolog...

[2] Above and Beyond Broadcasting: A Study of First Nations media and the COVID-19 pandemic (2022)  firstnationsmedia.org.au/sites/default/files/files/Submissions/Above_and_Beyond_Broadcasting%20(1).pdf

[5] Community Broadcasting Sector Programming & Technology Survey (2018) www.cbaa.org.au/sites/default/files/media/CBAA%20Programming%20Technolog...


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The community broadcasting sector has welcomed the launch of a new national cultural policy – Revive: a place for every story, a story for every place.


In it's latest round of Linkage projects, the Australian Research Council has awarded $218,000 for a three-year study of Australian community radio's contribution to the Australian music and creative industries.


The deadline for First Nations artists to be considered for the inaugural First Sounds compilation, due out early 2020, has been extended to Saturday 14 December 2019.