The Community Media Training Organisation’s founding Chairperson and much-loved leader, Tiga Bayles, passed away in Brisbane this week after a long illness. Tiga was instrumental in the establishment of the CMTO and continued to lead the organisation until the end of 2015 despite his illness.

tiga baylesTiga began his broadcasting career at 2SER in Sydney where he joined his mother, actress and story-teller Aunty Maureen Watson who had started a fifteen-minute program at the station. At the same time he was running an indigenous arts agency, Murri Jama, which saw him travelling on the road with new indigenous bands such as No Fixed Address and US Mob. He even managed the national tour of Jamaican reggae star, Peter Tosh in the 80’s.

Recognising his talent as a broadcaster, Tiga was soon offered a positon in the 2SER newsroom where he learnt radio production and journalism. It was in this newsroom that he worked with current CMTO Chairperson Dr Christina Spurgeon and the CMTO’s CEO Nicola Joseph.

“It was truly a gift that Tiga, Christina and I all got to work together again after 30 years.” Nicola Joseph said. “It felt like we really brought some of the positive energy from being in that newsroom in our twenties to the CMTO in its first year of operation.”

In the years in between, Tiga had made his name on the national media landscape, as well as an Aboriginal activist and leader. He held prominent positions on national organisations in the field of both the media and education. Tiga was the Chairperson of Radio Skid Row- Radio Redfern in the 1980’s and was a founding chairperson of the National Indigenous Media Association- the first national organisation which was established in the early 90’s. He went on to chair AICA – an expanded version of NIMA which included independent producers and filmmakers. Tiga also founded the indigenous satellite service, NIRS, which provides a first-class news service and other content to stations around the country. He was awarded the Michael Law Award for his personal contribution to community broadcasting in 2013. He has won numerous other awards for his radio show, Let’s Talk which is broadcast on 98.9 FM in Brisbane.

“While he was a great strategist and leader, I think Tiga’s real achievement was that he remained a popular broadcaster for most of his working life. There was a time where he was taking the studio with him and broadcasting from where he happened to be for a meeting or conference. It was amazing that he could keep the focus to do an outstanding daily current affairs program.” Nicola said.

In the field of education, Tiga was the head of BIMA media training and the founding chair of Brisbane’s highly successful Murri School. He also held the position of Chair of the National VET Equity Advisory Council during which time he was responsible for a ground-breaking report on social equity in VET. Tiga firmly believed that strong, independent Indigenous education and media systems were central to the success of Aboriginal and Islander self-determination. His life’s work reflected this.

“Tiga was fearlessly honest regardless of where he was speaking. He never watered down ideas or softened the message for the sake of not offending people. This could be scary if you were on the receiving end but if you actually got over your fears as a non-indigenous person and listened to what he was advocating – you soon realised how much there was to learn.” Nicola Joseph said.

The CMTO sends its condolences to Tiga’s daughters and grandchildren as well as his brothers, sister and aunties and uncles. Rest in Peace.