Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Protests over ‘stolen wealth’

Many Australians see the Commonwealth Games as a sporting celebration but for Aboriginal activists they symbolise invasion, dispossession and a culture shunted to the sidelines.

Hundreds of protesters made their presence felt at the Games’ host city, Gold Coast, where three people were arrested in scuffles just before Wednesday’s opening ceremony.

Demonstrators also disrupted the baton relay and more action is planned during the tournament, which was hit by protests when it was held in nearby Brisbane in 1982.

This time around, the Games are taking place during a period of heightened awareness for indigenous rights, following large-scale protests on Australia Day in January.

“We call this the ‘Stolenwealth Games’ because we deserve more,” protest leader Wayne Wharton told demonstrators on Tuesday.

At the 1982 Games, about 2 000 people marched through Brisbane demanding recognition of Aboriginal land rights and an end to discriminatory government policies.

Three decades later, they say little has changed.

“What we are saying to the Commonwealth countries that are coming here is that it is a damn shame that they are willing to share in the crime scene of Australia,” said Wharton.

Aboriginal culture stretches back tens of thousands of years before the British began colonising Australia in the late 1700s.

Today they are the most disadvantaged Australians, with higher rates of poverty, ill health and imprisonment than any other community.

Aboriginals were believed to have numbered about one million at the time of British settlement but now make up only about 3% of the national population of 24-million — meaning there are fewer Aboriginals now than when the first Britons arrived.

Tens of thousands of people marched on this year’s Australia Day, January 26, in “Invasion Day” protests calling for a rethink of the national commemoration.

Australia Day marks the arrival of the first British settlers in 1788, which, protesters say, heralded the beginning of colonial oppression. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Daniel De Carteret
Daniel De Carteret
Journalist covering Australia and the South Pacific for Agence France-Presse. Formerly in SE Asia.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

R350 relief grant will be paid into bank accounts or...

There are concerns that post office branch closures will make it difficult for beneficiaries to access the grant

South Africa at risk of spillover from international inflation, economists...

Higher international oil prices, for example, could affect local transport costs through second-round effects

More top stories

No action just yet on Digital Vibes report, Ramaphosa signals

‘I will come out and explain to the nation exactly how I will deal with [the SIU] report,’ Ramaphosa said during a walkabout at vaccine sites in Gauteng

Zuma children call for his unconditional release

The Zuma family also urged people to continue to desist from destroying infrastructure, adding that it opposed the arrest of Ngizwe Mchunu

EFF and Mkhwebane welcome high court judgment slamming some of...

The public protector has called for the impeachment process against her to be halted with immediate effect

Do South Africans prefer prayer to vaccines?

According to an Afrobarometer survey of 1 600 people, the majority of people do not trust the government to deliver safe vaccines
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×