Our own Koori Mail 20 years young
Twenty years ago the first edition of The Koori Mail hit the streets from its office in Lismore.
From 24 pages and a readership of 25,000 The Koori Mail has gone from strength to strength, while remaining independent and 100% owned by five Bundjalung corporations (Bundjalung Tribal Society, Lismore; Kurrachee Co-operative, Coraki; Nungera Co-operative, Maclean; Bunjum Co-operative, Cabbage Tree Island; and Buyinbin Co-operative in Casino). It now has a circulation of more than 9500 copies per fortnight and readership of over 115,000 in all states and territories.
Russell Kapeen has been the chair for 18 years.
Editor Kirstie Parker, a Yuwallarai woman, said from a local perspective, 20 years of success meant a lot to the Bundjalung board of directors and the community organisations they represent.
“On a practical level, because The Koori Mail is a successful business, it provides scholarships and other means of support within our community, as well as dividends to our owning organisations. This means that each of these organisations is able to continue their good work in all kinds of areas within the Bundjalung area,” Kirstie said. “More than that though, it’s a matter of enormous pride that something that started very small and humble has become so well-known Australia wide, loved within our community and regarded as a real community and publishing icon.”
The Koori Mail recently celebrated 500 editions, which equates to 50,000 stories over 20 years, letters to the editor, poems and other reader contributions, and photos.
Recently the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) scanned every page of every edition up to number 492, and put them on the web at www.aiatsis.gov.au/koorimail with free access (they have a lag of 8-12 weeks).
“We are really, really proud of the new AIATIS Koori Mail online exhibition,” Kirstie said. “We consider it important for the nation, students, politicians, anybody with an interest or responsibility in Aboriginal affairs, to have access to viewpoints from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and we consider it our gift to the nation.”
The Koori Mail is dearly loved by its loyal readers.
“Nowhere else to you get the breadth and diversity of Indigenous perspectives; as our chairperson Russell Kapeen said, ‘we’re here for the little fella and the big fellas amongst our mob’,” Kirstie said. “So where we may profile the many high achievers in our community in every sphere, we also chronicle the life and times of everyday people in our grassroots communities.”