Indigenous Games looking far-fetched for UOW students

University of Wollongong students are likely to miss out in the annual Indigenous Games due to a lack of funding support from the university. according to would-be competitors.

Indigenous students from UOW have competed in the inter-university run competition for Indigenous students for numerous years. Hosted by the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane, this year’s games run over four days at the end of June.

In previous years, the games have been held close enough to avoid paying for flights, and the  the students were able to raise the money through fundraising events. This year, the students will need to pay for flights and accommodation.

Student representatives Brooke Higgins and Kiara Small will rely on outside funding to attend the games.

“We don’t receive it (funding), we didn’t receive it last year where we weren’t even allowed to apply to get funding,” Higgins said.

“If we were to take a team of ten, $5,000 would be the minimum, the very minimum.”

Higgins and Small are trying to remain positive despite the heavy costs.

“Hopefully we can get some funding from somewhere, maybe a faculty or different people within the University that want to donate money. That would probably be the only way we could get there at this point,” Small said.

The students had previously received university funding unitl a few years ago when an ‘incident’ occurred. Since then, the games have had no financial support from the university.

“There was a chance, but we would have to sit down with a board from the university and have an interview with them in order to receive it (funding) and even then it’s unlikely,” Higgins said.

The University does provide funding for other Indigenous programs and activities, including the Woolyanguh Indigenous Centre.

The Indigenous games consist of four sports: volleyball, basketball, netball and touch football. The games are mixed-gender, played in a round-robin format, and have a day dedicated to each sport.

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Recognise

The Recognise campaign has sparked controversy within the Indigenous community, with some excited by its possibilities and others nervous at its potential failure. The Recognise campaign, which calls for indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution, has been included in Reconciliation Week activities this year, and is featured in the NRL and AFL’s Indigenous rounds.

Josephine Bourke, a proud Torres Strait Islander and ex officio expert panellist on the board for the Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians (Recognise), likes the idea, but is skeptical of its execution and implications. The PhD candidate said if a referendum goes ahead next year, and there is a ‘yes’ vote for constitutional recognition, it could be a step back for the progression of Indigenous rights in this country.

“If we are given symbolic recognition, imagine how the Australian people will feel, they’ll feel great,” she said.

recognise-thecon
An anti-recognise banner.

“It’s harder then to fight for the rights based stuff. I feel like we are creating a nation that is ticking boxes.”

Ms Bourke said the nation needed to be educated about what the planned referendum is about and why it is happening.

“If it was an education campaign yes, because we need it, but what they’re doing now is creating a lot of confusion,” she said.

The campaign uses athletes from NRL and AFL to promote the idea of constitutional recognition.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5PXZsvF6Wg%5B/embedyt%5D

“It’s a growing fear inside me about what they’re going to sell to the other 97 per cent of Australia.”

The Recognise campaign is a now government-run campaign that is hoping to change the national Constitution to recognise Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders as Australia’s first people. The campaign also wants to eliminate section 25 and 51 (xxi) from the Constitution as they allow racial discrimination from the government. The planned referendum will allow constitutional recognition to occur if more than 50 per cent of the nation vote yes, and the majority of the States vote yes. Ms Bourke is worried about the implications if the vote doesn’t pass.

“I think it won’t be successful. Just sit back and imagine, what that would do to a nation, what kind of damage would that do to Australia?” she said.

“We still never get what we need to thrive, we are surviving.”