When I started researching the State of Emergency exhibition, Uncle Bob Weatherall was one of the names that everyone mentioned.
Bob Weatherall, a Gumulray Elder, has worked for many years at the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action. He is currently the chair of the Centre for Indigenous Cultural Policy in Brisbane and is a high profile Aboriginal activist who had a lead role in establishing the Tent City in Musgrave Park in 1982 when Brisbane hosted the Commonwealth Games.
Uncle Bob was generous with his time and shared many stories of his days as CEO of FAIRA. He travelled interstate and abroad to educate people about the treatment of Australia’s first nations people and mustered international support to boycott the Games. His story and photographs are featured in the State of Emergency exhibition.
The Indigenous population of Queensland were still living under the conditions of the controversial Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protection Act 1971, known as The Act, where they were denied the civil liberties that the rest of the population took for granted. The Prime Minister drew criticism to ‘clean up his own backyard’ in relation to Queensland policies because of his strong public stance against South African policies of apartheid. Australia was accused of having double standards as the policies were so similar.
He remembers the community uniting for the cause. The Brisbane community was strong and had international support thanks to FAIRA. A large number of Aboriginal groups travelled from interstate to join the protests and support came, both financially and physically, from an array of unions and groups including the gay community, University student unions, the Uniting Church, the International Socialists and even Motorcycle Clubs.
Tomorrow Uncle Bob Weatherall will be our guest speaker for Yarnin’ Time. He will be talking further about his experiences regarding the politics and protest surrounding the 1982 Commonwealth Games.
For more information, visit the SLQ website : www.slq.qld.gov.au