Australian Children’s Television Foundation Celebrates 40 Years


The Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) is celebrating its 40th anniversary, commemorating the first time its board met on March 30, 1982.

The foundation was established in response to concerns about the quality of existing children’s television. Its mission to this day is to make Australian children’s lives better through content that demonstrates inclusion, diversity, resilience, imagination, having fun and striving to be our best.

Since 1982, the ACTF has developed, produced, distributed and invested in series such as My Place, Lift Off! and Round the Twist. Its catalog features more than 60 series, movies and telemovies and includes preschool-aged animation, factual series and live-action drama and comedy programs for children to young adult. Recent titles include More Than This, The PM’s Daughter and MaveriX.

Over the years, the ACTF has contributed to policy development for the children’s television production industry, was instrumental in the establishment of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s children’s channel in 2009 and has contributed to Australian education, with a team dedicated to developing teaching resources that support its content.

The 1982 ACTF board members included Chair Ken Watts, a pioneer of Australian television current affairs; political activist, feminist and philanthropist, Dame Beryl Beaurepaire; broadcaster Phillip Adams, who played a key role in establishing the Australian film industry; and academic Quentin Bryce, who would go on to serve as Australia’s first female governor-general. The founding director of the organization was Dr. Patricia Edgar.

“When I joined the board of the ACTF many years ago I couldn’t have imagined what an amazing journey it would be,” said Janet Holmes à Court, current chair of the board. “What an enormous body of work—from Winners, Round the Twist and Lift Off through to Dance Academy, Little Lunch and MaveriX, which premieres on the ABC this week. Each show goes out into the world, delights audiences everywhere, and lives on in the dreams and aspirations of each generation watching.”

She continued, “The shows we support reflect our Australian values, the diversity of our community and our sense of humour, but they are watched by children in more than 170 countries as well as children here. The world has changed and the way we watch television has changed, so we’ve had to evolve and adapt to keep up. Australian children’s television is such a precious and valuable gift to our culture, I do hope it goes on forever.”

Actor and writer Olivia Feeble, who began her career with the ACTF, commented, “I love the ACTF. I loved everything they were involved in growing up: Nowhere Boys, Mortified and especially Dance Academy. I was lucky enough to be in Little Lunch, which changed my life. I am so honored that they supported a 17-year-old who basically walked in and said, ‘I want to show what it is really like in high school for teens today. It has to have LGBTQI+ characters, teen actors have to play the parts, the dialogue has to be authentic and it has to cover these issues…’ They [understood] how important these issues were.”

CEO Jenny Buckland added, “Right now, the ACTF is busier than it has ever been, supporting shows that continue to break new ground and capture the hearts and imaginations of today’s children. It looks like the best is yet to come.”