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From his early association with Radio Redfern in Sydney in the early 1980s, Tiga Bayles has been one of the key drivers of the growth of the nation’s highly successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media sector.
Tiga was born on 6 October 1953 in Craco, Queensland. His mother is well-known poet and storyteller Maureen Watson, winner of the prestigious Red Ochre Award for Indigenous arts and United Nations Leadership Prize.
From the start, Tiga had a strong involvement in his cultural background and a key role as a senior figure within his family. By the age of 10, he was caring for his four brothers when his mother was unwell.
Living in Sydney in the 1970s, he became more and more prominent as an outspoken activist and supporter of Aboriginal land rights. He was one of the key figures in the establishment of the Aboriginal tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972, and serves as Chairperson of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council.
He was one of the founders of Koori community radio station, Radio Redfern in Sydney, giving Aboriginal people in New South Wales their first opportunity to have their views and music heard on the airwaves. A highlight of the Radio Redfern broadcasts was their coverage of the 1998 Bicentenary, with Tiga and his team covering the event from an Indigenous perspective and providing a forum for the many Indigenous protestors whose voices were marginalised in the mainstream media.
Tiga moved to Brisbane to Radio 4AAA to work with his Uncle Ross Watson, taking over as general manager and guiding the station to its current position as the largest Indigenous radio station in a capital city in Australia. Tiga’s commitment to passing on skills to the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has resulted in the establishment of 4 Triple A Training, a nationally recognised training organisation that gives certificate level training in communications and broadcasting to the Indigenous announcers and journalists of the future. Tiga was also one of the key figures behind the establishment of a national network of Indigenous broadcasters. He is currently the general manager of Chairman of the National Indigenous Radio Service, which services over 120 Indigenous radio stations the length and breadth of the country and provides hourly news updates with an Indigenous focus.
He has now been at 4AAA for 13 years, spending the last seven as General Manager. During this time the station has won a “Deadly” award for Broadcaster of the Year in 1998, established a registered training organisation, and become a successful media operation employing over a dozen Indigenous staff members. Tiga also managed a radio national broadcast of the Corroboree 2000 reconciliation event and live coverage of the Sydney Olympics for the Indigenous radio network.
Tiga has eight daughters and 10 grandchildren. He lost his wife Kath in 2001 and many of his daughters and grandchildren live with him, as well as a number of children with no families of their own. Tiga cares for them all equally, and his commitment to family values resulted in his being recognised as Queensland Father of the Year in 2003.
He is a tireless worker for the Indigenous community, does an enormous amount of voluntary work as Chairman of the Brisbane Aboriginal and islander Independent School (known to all as ‘the Murri School’).
He has become a mentor for young Indigenous people and travels Australia regularly in his role as an ambassador for the National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy, giving motivational talks to Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, schools, teachers, principals and Government agencies.
Now in his fifties, he continues to dedicate his life to his work, his family and the community.
Biography sourced from:
Discussions following the Treaty Talks gathering in Brisbane 18th & 19th May 2913.
Michael Anderson, Conveyor of the Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia, spoke about the Australian First Nations Sovereignty Campaign and the Treaty Talks with Tiga Bayles, 98.9 Radio, Brisbane Indigenous Media Association.