In solidarity with Stan Grant

The decision by Stan Grant to step aside from Q+A, after being subjected to shameful racist vitriol, is a wake-up call for all in the media. First and foremost are those who wrongfully singled out Stan to continue a long-running campaign of hysterical snipings about the ABC, and in doing so fed social media trolls with an appetite for deplorable personal invective. Then there’s the ABC management which was too slow to come to his defence. Inevitably, this has come at great personal cost to Stan and we hope that his courage in calling out malicious racism and unwarranted personal attack will be a catalyst for positive change.

We stand in solidarity with Stan Grant

By Helen Grasswill / 23 May 2023

The racist vitriol to which our ABC colleague Stan Grant has been subjected, especially over the last few weeks, says a lot about Australia’s media. And it’s not pretty.

While some journalists quickly rallied to Stan’s defence, others – notably in News Corp outlets – chose to continue an ongoing sniping attack on the ABC by singling him out for particular condemnation over what they purported was an inappropriate appearance on the ABC’s coverage of King Charles III’s coronation in early May.

It wasn’t.

News director Justin Stevens addresses a staff rally in Sydney in support of Stan Grant.

This was a night of history. The ABC ran a positive documentary on the new king, followed by a relatively short panel discussion, prior to handing over to the BBC commentary for the bulk of the night’s coverage – the several hours of coronational ceremony.

Stan was invited to take part in the panel discussion to give a First Nations’ viewpoint of the monarchy and colonisation. He is eminently qualified to do so, not simply because he’s a Wiradjuri man from the Griffith region in NSW, but he’s penned respected books examining the subject. He spoke on the night, not with venom, but with thoughtfulness and authority.

The ABC’s coronation night panel, L-R: Co-chair Australian Republic Movement Craig Foster, Liberal MP Julian Lesser, presenters Jeremy Fernandez and Julia Baird, and Stan Grant.

Some critics have said the inclusion of Stan in this role, and his commentary, was ‘disrespectful’. Really. Disrespectful to whom? Certainly not to First Nations Australians. Nor to those of us who understand the importance of truth-telling about our troubled colonial history if the nation is to truly achieve reconciliation and an Aussie ‘fair go’ for all people.

It does not automatically follow that acknowledging the ugly realities of colonisation is a condemnation of everything else that has since been achieved.

Stan himself has always been very clear: he loves Australia – and loves even more the Australia we could be:

I speak of truth, not grievance.

Truths. Hard truths. Truths not told with hate – truths offered with love. Yes, love. I repeatedly said that these truths are spoken with love for the Australia we have never been.

The singling out of Stan for criticism because of his historical perspective is disgraceful in another way. Craig Foster, co-chair of the Australian Republic Movement, was also on the panel, advocating for Australia to become a republic – a future possibility that is surely a greater threat to the monarchy than a benign acknowledgement of the past. But he pretty much escaped attention and one can only conclude that the difference is that he is non-Indigenous.

As the old adage goes: “If you’re white you’re right, if you’re black step back.”

If this issue were confined to some sections of the media, it would be bad enough. But it’s more insidious.

As Denis Muller of Melbourne University’s Journalism Centre has pointed out in The Conversation, the treatment of Stan is a case study in how content in the professional media can fuel social media toxicity:

It does not require the professional mass media to be overtly racist to accomplish this, but to send signals of intense disapproval that trolls then use as the basis for their racist attacks.

Grant himself clearly sees this. In his statement on ABC Online announcing his decision to step away from hosting Q+A on ABC television, he wrote:

“Since the King’s coronation, I have seen people in the media lie and distort my words. They have tried to depict me as hate-filled. They have accused me of maligning Australia.”

The reality is that Stan has never been hate-filled.

Nothing could be further from the truth, my ancestors would never let me be filled with hate.

His eloquent and deeply moving farewell comments at the end of Monday’s Q+A were typical of his depth and the deep humanity that drives him. He spoke of his love for Australia and Australians, and with humility of the Wiradjiri concept of Yindyamarra and his sorrow at whatever he may have done to inspire the level of hatred he’s endured:

It means that I am not just responsible for what I do, but for what you do.

The truth is, Stan didn’t do anything that could possibly warrant such acrimony.

Stan received unanimous support from both audience and panel on his last appearance on Q+A.

He is a man of stature with an eminent career in the media, both in Australia and internationally. His contribution to public debate on a range of issues must not be lost.

It’s no wonder he received a standing ovation from the studio audience, who like so many of us are repulsed by the malign use of media and social media to spread vitriol and prosecute vendettas.

Stan Grant on his final Q+A.

ABC management has apologised to Stan Grant for its failure to properly support him in the current dispute and is reviewing internal systemic issues, including complaints about a legacy of inhouse racism affecting ABC staff. This is in addition to work already underway through its Diversity, Indigenous and Inclusion leadership. Earlier this year ABC also lodged an official complaint with Twitter over previous abuse of Stan on its platform.

Helen Grasswill is Deputy Chair of ABC Alumni.


  1. I wasn’t going to watch at all until I switched to the ABC
    and saw Craig Foster and Stan Grant, it was very interesting,I enjoyed it.
    I’m not a monarchist, I want a republic,I will vote Yes for the voice.
    So of all the channels that showed the Coronation the ABC was the only one
    giving those of us that want a republic, want to hear the truth about Australian Colonialism a balanced view.There were 4 or 5 other channels they could have switched to, to get the BBC coverage. This is Australia not the UK

  2. Exactly right, I was glad to see Stan and Craig on the panel prior to BBC coronation broadcast – it was a very good input of correct balance. Stan Grant was (and forever will be) the jewel in the crown of the ABC, he is intellectually unsurpassed. Alison

  3. Just wanted to send admiration for Stan Grant in how he handled this, the grace and power of his speech on Q&A with a very different understanding of how we are connected, and his refusal to stop being loving, or to be aggressive back at those dismal cowards who had been attacking him. He is a most admirable and special Australian, and example of the masculinity we so need, to turn around a dying world and find a path of life again. So glad to have this way to send support.

  4. For me the situation is as follows.
    I was in the ABC (Religion) for 25 years. I know about programming pomp and circumstance occasions (Popes and Kings etc). My wife and I are both musically well educated and performers. We love watching and hearing ceremonial occasions with music, from whatever tradition. The ABC Coronation coverage was an irritating shock, and we went to Channel 10.

    I am a Republican straight up. I see no future relevance for us and our governance for the English (not British) Monarchy. But we still have the link and a certain nostalgic attachment to, and curiosity about, ancient rites and traditions. This was the first coronation for 70 years. Lots of people were curious.

    Whoever decided to program the discussion, from indigenous and republican viewpoints, right before and OVER the lead up to the Coronation, with some vision in the background, but no sound, made an egregious error. This was totally inappropriate and very irritating.

    It would be like have a discussion before the ANZAC Ceremonies by a fierce anti-war campaigner accompanied by a reminder that indigenous soldiers were ignored and forgotten after the trenches, all important issues which must be acknowledged, but not before the ceremonies that honour sacrifice.
    Or maybe a documentary about brain damage straight before the football grand final. Fair Go!

    Whoever made this placement decision should be sacked. They should also be sacked for exposing Stan Grant to the abuse he suffered, by their stupid placement of the commentary. Don’t try to hide behind the reaction to Stan’s predicament. Own up to a piece of incredibly stupid program placement.

    I also generally agree with the opinion(s) of Stuart Littlemore and David Salter in the SMH Opinion piece – May 21 2023
    May Stan find the place his skill deserves in a more balanced media outlet.

  5. I have such deep admiration for Stan Grant! His ability to transcend the hateful racism and media trolls is a credit to him. His love for Australia and Australians is heartfelt and we need to show love and respect in return. I imagine he needs time out to connect and to heal his heart. We should honour that and step back.

  6. I respect Stan Grant as a former Lateline colleague and as a Wiradjuri man, whose voice we need as a nation. May I please just share his moving Q & A speech once more?

    May I also share the WoodyGuthrie song Stan sang with Billy Bragg ‘I Ain’t Got No Home’? Stan introduces us to his childhood, to his family, to police clearing actions and to his grandfather Keith so well.

    I stand with Stan.

    Jeanne Walker

  7. Well done Stan. You are a wonderful human and I wish there were more people like you in the world. Caring for others, caring what words come out of our mouths or our pens/computers, having empathy for others. Not everyone has it and it takes people like you Stan, to show us what is right.

  8. I stand with Stan Grant and anyone else who will call out racist vitriol and the small minded people who utter it. Take care Stan you are appreciated and your talents respected. I look forward to hearing your considered opinions and insightfulness again in the future.

  9. Dear Stan, I stand with you. Your truth integrity and transparency stand firm regardless of those who would attempt to bring you down.
    I hope that these racist attacks inflicted upon you and your family can be seen as yet another illustration of the urgency for the YES vote to The Voice to Parliament.
    Warmest regards Stan

  10. Thank you for this thoughtful article. An excellent reflection on all that has happened. Yes, I thought the Coronation panel discussion was very welcome and was dismayed at the appalling reaction against it and the tragic fallout.

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