Updated: Apr 24
Bulgarian Community in Distress asking for Your Help regarding SBS decision to decommission the weekly Bulgarian Language Radio Program from 1 May 2023
On 1 March 2023, SBS announced the closure of its audio content offering in six Languages: Albanian, Bulgarian, Finnish, Romanian, Slovak and Slovenian. The SBS Radio Language Services are reviewed every five years in order to reflect contemporary Australia.
The Bulgarian community in Australia is seriously concerned about the SBS decision to close the radio program which has been on air for 46 years with only two months’ grace. Established as one of the first SBS foreign language radio programs, the Bulgarian Language Radio Program is the only existing Australian national media in the Bulgarian language. Throughout the years it has played a vital role in informing, entertaining, uniting, creating a sense of community and preserving the language, cultural identity and heritage of different generations of Bulgarians, especially older and younger Bulgarian Australians.
The spontaneous actions of the Bulgarian community, as outlined below, unequivocally show that the program is much needed:
· A petition in protest against the intended closure of the Bulgarian Language Program https://chng.it/YxpFDZyQhg has been signed by 1300+ people who are united in their desire to keep the program. If you haven't signed the program and would like to do so please follow the link
· Protest letters by representatives of Bulgarian community organisations and by individuals were sent to the SBS Director of Audio and Language Content David Hua and the SBS Managing Director James Taylor asking for a revision of the decision and seeking a mutually acceptable solution.
· A community information session was held by the SBS management on 14 March 2023 with David Hua, SBS Director Audio and Language Content and other SBS representatives, and representatives of the Bulgarian groups in NSW, VIC, ACT, QLD and WA. No alternative solution has been found so far.
· Support from trusted medical professionals, including Dr Bilyana Konstantinova, а Senior Physician and Geriatrician, FRACP, Gosford Hospital, CCLHD and Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle and Dr Maria Staykova, neuroimmunologist from the Australian National University, who expressed high concerns for the 800+ Bulgarians over the age of 70 who are dispersed over the whole continent who will be pushed aside and deprived of an essential service.
· Community language schools also voiced their serious concerns. The Director of the Sydney-based Petar Beron Bulgarian Community Language School Marina Mileva and the Head Teacher and Bulgarian Language Coordinator at the Victorian School of Languages Vanya Dyulgerova expressed their, their students’ and parents’ concern that the closure of the only Australian media in Bulgarian is depriving children of the possibility to connect with their mothers’ and fathers’ tongue presented professionally. This will be a lost opportunity in maintaining their cultural heritage, participate in topics of interest and enrich Australian society. The NSW Federation of Community Language Schools Inc. also expressed concern about the closure of the Bulgarian Language Program in a letter to the SBS Managing Director, Mr James Taylor. NSW FCLS is the top body for 220 after-hours community language schools in 515 locations across NSW with over 26,000 students taught in 72 languages by 2500 teachers.
· Bulgarian remote workers employed in the mining, gas and oil sector also expressed their concern that the closure of the Bulgarian radio program would deprive them of the only source available for obtaining regular information in their own language about events in Australia, Bulgaria and overseas. This could further contribute to feelings of isolation and distress.
We understand that the Bulgarian community falls under the category of small community,
however, we hold the view that the Census data might not have captured the high need of
the Bulgarian speaking communities to have access to SBS language program.
We hope that helping minority and endangered language communities remains a social
responsibility and is a priority for both Federal and State Government in Australia.
A language is a way of preserving history, customs, and heritage. When a language is
preserved, it allows a whole culture to remain alive. We would like SBS Bulgarian to remain on air, in its current form, however if this is not possible the Bulgarian radio program to be included on SBS On Demand.
We will have updates from community leaders and representatives each week in here and we will be able to share any developments on this very problematic topic for us.