OAM ‘owed’ to interviewees

Declan BushAugusta Margaret River Times
Broadcaster and oral historian Bill Bunbury was yesterday awarded the Order of Australia Medal.
Camera IconBroadcaster and oral historian Bill Bunbury was yesterday awarded the Order of Australia Medal. Credit: Declan Bush

Broadcaster and oral historian Bill Bunbury has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to the broadcast media and the indigenous people of WA.

Bunbury spent 40 years travelling the State making radio features and documentaries for the ABC.

The Murdoch University adjunct professor of history and media has written 12 books and records interviews for the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Bunbury said the advent of portable sound recorders at the start of his career let broadcasters do interviews in the field, creating richer stories which resonated with people around the country.

“I decided quite early in my career at the ABC that writing scripts about farmers and their life was absolutely pointless when you could go and talk to them directly,” he said.

Bunbury said hearing the diverse, heartfelt experiences broadened his perspective.

“When you realise that your life has been comparatively comfortable and you hear the story of someone who went through the depression, or came out of the Vietnam War, you just realise how complex life has been for people,” he said.

Bunbury said people had told him stories of abuse, hardship, and disadvantage, as well as transformation and change.

“When you hear stories of Aboriginal non-acceptance and coming to terms with a culture that’s imposed on you, that is very good for you… it widens your empathy, I think.”

The Cowaramup resident said he was pleased to receive the OAM, but felt he had the reward already.

“I’m very honoured to have it, but I owe it to the people who talk to me. I owe it to the people who gave me their stories,” he said.

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