Dorcas Maphakela is the founder, producer and host of OzAfrican TV and has been making waves in the community since graduating from Swinburne with a Master of Arts (Writing) in 2014.

Dorcas has carried her passion for storytelling, mindfulness and empowerment of others through shared experiences, throughout her career. She has also won a number of awards and has been recognised for her work in promoting cross-cultural understanding and collaboration.

Her interest in Film and TV has seen Dorcas fulfil an array of roles within the industry from production, to head of the costume department, to acting. She also worked in the costume and digital department on the set of one of Australia’s biggest TV shows, Neighbours for seven years!

We caught up with Dorcas to find out about what she has been up to since graduating from Swinburne. 

How are you creating impact in the world?

I am creating impact in the world through my passion for storytelling. On a visible level, I do this through OzAfrican TV (OATV) as the founder, producer and host of the show.

OATV is a lifestyle show about people of African descent living in Australia. It links birth, interest and heritage, highlighting positive stories with a focus on socioeconomic contribution and the impact this has on the community. It is well received in Australia and overseas, attracting a licensing agreement with a Zambian station, Fresh TV Zambia who broadcasted Season 1 during 2017.

OATV is a multicultural platform that showcases the inspirational achievements of African people in Australia and provides a narrative that positively challenges the barriers that recent media events have created. It engages the viewer in interesting and contemporary information about their community, their neighbouring communities, or their diaspora further afield. The platform introduces the viewers to artists, community workers, creatives, entrepreneurs and professionals in an informative ‘African-style’ presentation. 

At the 2017 Multicultural Awards for Excellence, alongside three SBS reporters, I was recognised for my work on OATV. My Media Award from the Victorian Multicultural Commission acknowledges “outstanding reporting on issues of importance to diverse communities and reporting which contributes to Victoria’s cross cultural understanding”. I was so happy to receive this award, acknowledging my work!

Dorcas Maphakela, Master of Arts (Writing) alumna, and founder, producer and host of OZAfrican TV

How central is innovation to your work?

Innovation is everything. Usually people think of innovation at a technological level, but we know that it goes far beyond that, particularly in a global society where while it’s important to embrace the contemporary culture within spaces, it’s equally important to bring with us our rich cultures that our ancestors gifted us.

How do I work towards this wholesome innovation? By ensuring that while we keep up with the evolving technology and revolutionising our stories, we continue to produce storytelling that is culturally sensitive and inclusive.

In what way did Swinburne prepare you for the challenges you face in your work?

While studying at Swinburne, I was surrounded by not only like-minded people but I found myself in a space that - first and foremost – nurtured me as a human. Through my course (Master of Arts in Writing) I was given the opportunity to not only explore my growth as a person but to also begin a very personal healing journey.

This process has taught me that in a professional or work environment being human is the crux of all our activities and that kindness (to self and others) and thriving within a chosen avenue are mutually inclusive.

I feel lucky to have connected with the students and lecturers at Swinburne in the way that I did.

What advice would you give to current Swinburne students?

Firstly, take a minute to acknowledge how privileged you are to be a university student, as not everyone is afforded this incredible opportunity. Realise that you hold power to create change that matters by building bridges of equality through education within your family, community, country and ultimately the world. 

Take every opportunity presented to you. Build networks among students from your faculty, other fields and your lecturers or university staff - you’ll never know where future collaboration opportunities lie!

Lead with kindness and always remember to do things that fill your soul with happiness. 

Where do you see yourself in 2025?

2025 is actually not that far away when I think about it. On a personal level, I would have published my first book and first film and at a community level, I see OATV as the hub of African Australian and African diaspora media. 

OATV is broadcast on FOXTEL (Aurora, 173) and will return to C31Melbourne (channel 44 on free to air) late 2019 or early 2020.

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