David Hill was born in Eastbourne (in the UK) in 1946, into a poor family - resulting in him spending time in a Barnardo's children's home. He migrated to Australia in 1959, and attended Fairbridge Farm School in New South Wales. After a variety of jobs - including a hardware shop assistant, a labourer on building sites, a refuse collector, a tutor at the University of Sydney, journalist, and accountant - he was appointed an Associate Commissioner of the Public Transport Commission in 1978, and in 1982, he was appointed as the Chief Executive of the State Rail Authority, serving until 1987. He then became Chairman and Managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 1987 to 1995
Hill has since written an autobiographical book (The Forgotten Children) about the experiences of the child migrants at Fairbridge Farm School, as well as a number of later books on Australian history.
David was interviewed at ABC headquarters in Sydney, where he was the Managing Director at the time.
You don’t want tokenism, where you’ve got white television film-makers pretending to represent the interests and the needs on Aboriginal matters.
CAAMA and Imparj[a] have set the agenda a bit, and have set I think a pretty challenging example for all of us.
We started the Aboriginal Programme Unit because the ABC, as Australia’s national broadcaster, should have Aboriginal people making Aboriginal programmes.
I think that you’ve got to recognise what we’ve done in a very few, short years, is to build up a very good skills base of Aboriginal television producers. The last series of Blackout was exceptionally good. I thought the series before that was good – so every time we make a series it gets better and better.
We want to move ultimately, that Aboriginal people are responsible for all Aboriginal programming, and that means all staffing positions, and we should get there as soon as we possibly can.
Certainly commercial television will not – in prime time – ever contemplate running programmes about Aboriginal issues. Now the interesting thing is, that one of the bonuses, because of our preparedness to do it, is Blackout – the Aboriginal television series – actually was a commercial ratings winner. Now perhaps if we chalk up more successes like that, we’ll change the conventional wisdom in the commercial media. But it’s certainly…there’s no sign of it yet.