Ian 'Dicko' Dickson features in season two of the TV series First Contact.
Ian 'Dicko' Dickson features in season two of the TV series First Contact. Darren Purbrick

First Contact season two: seeing reality in black and white

IAN 'Dicko' Dickson's biggest fear of participating in First Contact was finding out he was a "dirty big racist".

The former Australian Idol judge and British record company executive is one of six well-known Australians taking part in season two of SBS's Logie Award-winning documentary series.

Alongside singer-songwriter Natalie Imbruglia, ex-One Nation politician David Oldfield, comedian Tom Ballard, former Miss Universe Australia Renae Ayris and actress Nicki Wendt, Dickson will confront their own deeply entrenched preconceptions and the realities of what it's like to be an Aboriginal Australian.

Cameras follow the group as they witness the ravages of alcohol, suicide, overcrowded housing and poverty.

David Oldfield, Natalie Imbruglia, Ian 'Dicko' Dickson, Renae Ayris, Tom Ballard and Nicki Wendt in a scene from the TV series First Contact.
David Oldfield, Natalie Imbruglia, Ian 'Dicko' Dickson, Renae Ayris, Tom Ballard and Nicki Wendt in a scene from the TV series First Contact. David Dare Parker

"I've been here for 15 years, enjoyed the fruits of what is a wonderful, affluent nation but one which hides a dark secret," Dickson tells APN's The Guide.

"I was keen to put myself in that situation and see what effect it had on me. I have to say it was a deeply profound experience."

Reconciliation Australia has found that six out of 10 Australians have had little or no contact with the nation's first people.

Despite his high-profile career, Dickson admits he has lived a sheltered, suburban existence without any meaningful time spent with Aboriginal people.

"Like me, most suburban Australians don't know any black people and never interact with black people," he says.

"Suddenly I was immersed in black culture and I was thrilled by it, frankly.

Ian 'Dicko' Dickson, left, in a scene from the season two of the TV series First Contact.
Ian 'Dicko' Dickson, left, in a scene from the season two of the TV series First Contact. David Dare Parker


"It was the smaller, intimate things astounded me, like a tiny, unbelievably overcrowded house full of 25 people that functioned. It was run by two women who got every kid fed, showered and on their way to school. I can't imagine having to deal with that."

The 53-year-old, who now calls Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland home, says he has been transformed by the experience.

"I think the hardest part was coming to the realisation of how ignorant I am, and how ready I was to accept the benefits of this wonderful country without understanding the tremendous debt that we owe to our first nations," he says.

"I don't think black Australia needs another white fella over promising and under delivering, but I've read a lot of books since then (filming finished) and I feel a lot more knowledgeable.

"I need to be part of the solution in some way but I still haven't found out what that is yet. I will, because I can't do nothing having seen what I've seen."

Season two of First Contact debuts on SBS and NITV on Tuesday at 8.30pm.
 


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