It’s time to end the whitewash of Australia’s screens, according to Santilla Chingaipe.

The award-winning Seddon journalist and documentary filmmaker is the creative force behind an event designed to open up pathways into film and television for young people from diverse backgrounds in Melbourne’s west.

The West Writers Forum Film and Screen Day, to be held at Footscray Community Arts Centre later this month as part of the three-day 2018 West Writers Program, will be a day of workshops, activities and networking for young people from low-income, Indigenous, migrant and refugee backgrounds.

A report by Screen Australia found that more than one third of local TV dramas screened over the past five years had all-white casts, a far cry from Australia’s true multicultural make-up.

Disability was also starkly underrepresented, with only four per cent of characters identifiably living with a disability, compared with almost 20 per cent of the Australian population.

Ms Chingaipe said proper representation of all Australians on screen is vital to an inclusive society, yet too few on-screen characters – or writers and crews working behind the scenes – reflect the country’s diversity.

“Although there are many initiatives seeking to create opportunities to have more diverse storytellers, few, if any, explicitly target young people in Melbourne’s west,” she said.

Ms Chingaipe spent nearly a decade working for SBS World News, reporting from across Africa and interviewing some of the continent’s most prominent leaders.

She presented SBS documentary Date My Race and explored the perception of beauty and race in Australia in her latest film, Black As Me.

Ms Chingaipe is curating the upcoming Film & Screen Day, an event supported by Screen Australia and Film Victoria.

It will feature masterclasses with leading industry professionals including writer Benjamin Law and director Robert Connolly.

Online applications to take part in the July 29 event close July 20.

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