As 2021 draws to a close, triple j is about to say goodbye to three of its presenters. One of them is To hack host Avani Dias, who is preparing to travel to New Delhi, India, as ABC’s correspondent for South Asia.
During his time with To hack she has won five Walkley nominations, including one nomination in 2021 for public service journalism.
Media week spoke to Dias about his departure To hack and what the future looks like.
“It’s really special to be able to have this kind of access to young people,” says Dias of his time at To hack. “There is no other media area that I have worked in where people are so willing to tell you their stories. and talk about some really dark and traumatic times in their lives. It has been a real privilege to have this access, especially in the last two years of the pandemic, where we have seen young people really affected more than other age groups. “
Having the trust of an audience is an essential part of any news and current affairs program, and that trust is not something Dias takes for granted.
“I am really grateful that people trust To hack, and felt comfortable reaching out. Every day on the show, we get so many people calling, and so many texts, and we get a lot of them on our social media as well. It’s really unbelievable.
“It is also a testimony of To hack as a brand, it’s a bit of an institution. There is nothing else like it in Australia which does daily, cross-platform media for young people, so I think people feel very connected that way.
Working through the Covid
When the Covid-19 restrictions were first introduced, there was a lot of confusion over the details, especially among young people. For Dias, the pandemic has highlighted just how much people have turned to To hack.
“When the pandemic happened, the great number of people who came forward to us. We had hundreds of people contacted because the restrictions weren’t aimed at young people, at the very beginning they were aimed at nuclear families. People would ask us if they could visit their partners or people they were dating, there was just a small blind spot for the lives of young people. Obviously nobody wants a pandemic but see how much the young people relied on To hack was pretty amazing to see.
Investigations all over the place
In addition to working behind the microphone on To hack, Dias has also worked with Four corners to defend investigations like Tinder: the predator’s playground and TikTok: Data mining, discrimination and dangerous content.
“We have such a great idea of what young people in Australia think,” she said. “We poll our audience every two years, and these are issues that have emerged as things that have affected young people over the past couple of years that were areas that weren’t really looked at by other media, necessarily.
“Seeing some of these trends emerge around sexual assault or eating disorders on TikTok, and some of the discrimination issues on TikTok, these were all issues that came up over and over again on the show. as something that we should study further, and obviously there was a lot of stuff below the surface that people hadn’t looked at.
“It was amazing to see double the influence that Four corners has on decision-makers and companies, then the influence that triple ja on young people. “
On the way to South Asia
With the South Asia Correspondent based in New Delhi, Dias is preparing for a big change. She says what drew her to the South Asian region was a sense of connection as well as a feeling that it’s a region that people should hear more from.
“My family is from Sri Lanka, so I have traveled a lot throughout the region. We have many migrants coming to Australia from India – Indians are the second largest group of migrants in Australia.
“People are very interested in news in Southeast Asia, but I don’t know if we have enough here. I think there is a lot more we could do to represent the issues in this region and our connections from Australia to South Asia. That’s what really attracted me there. I’ve always dreamed of taking on this role, and it’s pretty amazing to be able to go there next year and do it.
Life in New Delhi will be busy and Dias is excited to start.
“The ABC sets you up, you live in the center of town, the office is nearby. There is a really amazing local producer that I will work with every day, a driver who will accompany me in the stories and an office manager who drives the operation forward. The ABC has had an office there for decades, so this is a place where the ABC has taken hold.
“There are a lot of important political developments, amazing stories about the people on the ground and technological developments. I’m already drowning in the stories that might be incredible to say for an audience here.