It was after a segment from tennis legend Pat Cash on his Australia Day “awakening”, that she felt compelled to say what the day meant to her.
“I’m a Gamilaroi woman, my family is from northern NSW, been there for about 60,000 years or so,” she said.
“This date, I know it comes up every year and I’m not trying to tell everyone else what they should be doing …
“But I can’t separate the 26th of January from the fact that my brothers are more likely to go to jail than they are to go to school.
“Or that my little sisters and my mum are more likely to be beaten and raped than anyone else’s sisters or mum. And that started from that day.”
Recirculated footage of the powerful on-air moment soon went viral after it broadcast in January.
Ms Boney, who joined the Today show following Karl Stefanovic’s messy departure, copped racist abuse for her views, but she was also inundated with support.
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, she has now revealed why she said what she said.
Firstly, she explained that her message wouldn’t have been controversial with audiences she addressed during her stints on Koori Radio, NITV and Triple J, but because she said it on the Today show, it reached people who hadn’t considered opinions like hers before.
Despite the backlash from some, she said she spoke out because that’s what she has always wanted to do as a journalist — a career she had specifically chosen because of the racism she encountered earlier in her life.
Growing up the eldest of six children in housing commission in Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, she said a boy at school called her the “n-word and slammed (her) against a wall”.
“I remember the principal telling me, ‘Look, we know this guy is a troublemaker, but would you mind just dropping it.’ And that’s what I did,” she said.
“I don’t think they were being malicious or anything; the school just really didn’t know how to deal with it. It was easier to pretend it didn’t happen.”
That moment inspired her to stick through her schooling, head to university and make a career in journalism, specifically so she could add her voice to the conversation.
That was why she was compelled to deliver such a powerful message on the Today show, just days into her new job.
“If I can contribute to that conversation in any way, that’s my goal,” she told the Herald. “That’s why I wanted to be a journalist, that’s why I’ve worked so hard to get to this position. To have that conversation happen in my first week on the show, I just felt like this is why I’m doing it.”