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.



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.

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.


“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.”

Indigenous ‘Education’

Coming from 12 years of Education there was only one term that I really learnt the about issues forced upon Indigenous people. In primary school we were taught about the dreamtime and the Indigenous creation stories, which stemmed my interest in this area. As I got older as I assume all of us Australians did we learnt about the ‘marvellous’ Captain Cook, who did ‘no wrong’ and ‘settled’ Australia. Then finally in grade 10 we were taught about the atrocities that occurred against the Indigenous people, focusing on the Myall Creek massacre. This was a real shock to me at the time as I really had no idea that Indigenous people we treated so dreadfully. I have always been extremely interested in Indigenous people but this gave me a newfound reason and passion to learn more about the treatment and discrimination against this nations first people.

I remember hearing in the first seminar that during the 1800s there were ‘experiments’ conducted on the Indigenous people. The most confronting to me was they would bury Indigenous babies alive with just their heads above the surface. The men conducting the experiments would then measure how many kicks it would take to kill the baby or if I remember correctly till the head comes off the body. This sickening act was actually recorded in these men’s notebooks.

I found that a lot of the time whilst studying this subject I would feel aggravated and upset due to the disgusting things that occurred still and still do occur today. There is such a big issue of discrimination towards Indigenous people in this country and Australia is hiding behind it. For me the only way to change this inbuilt attitude of racism towards the Indigenous people that not all but a lot of people possess is education. I am generalising but from my experiences I have found some people acquire the undertone of the idea that ‘we are better than them’ referring to white and Indigenous people. During school we should be taught about our own history, no matter how confronting or how damaging it is to Australia’s perception of itself, the only way to move forward is to educate.


Image: Wet Sand by Zac Bennett-Brook

Contaminated Media

The media is where we find out about what is going on around us. Where we read opinions and form our own from doing so. Thus the importance of media ownership and diversity is great. In Australia there is a lack of diversity in media ownership as there are only nine people that control the Australian media. This is something that needs to be monitored because the media is an extremely powerful industry and can have large affect on the way people think. In this piece I’m going to look at how media can negatively affect large audiences, therefore highlighting the importance of diversity in ownership. (I apologise in advance if this is one-sided) I do this through looking into the media and Indigenous Australia.

Indigenous Australia a lot of the time isn’t represented correctly in the media. A prime example of this came up recently when the Invasion vs. Settlement debate hit Australia again. Channel 7’s Sunrise decided to bring up the issue and interview two different people on the issue, a Herald Sun Columnist and a well-known 2GB radio host Alan Jones. Alan Jones previously stated, “we needed stolen generations”, so bringing someone like this to speak on this topic was deliberate and planned. The popular morning show decided to pick two people with the same views, that Australia was colonised. This gives a completely one-sided view and gives people watching from home one way of thinking. There was no Indigenous representative or anyone for that matter with a conflicting view. Also the fact that it was two respected writers makes it even more convincing. An issue as important as this should have a fair, balanced argument rather than the one provided.

On the other hand, the ABC provided a more balanced look at the issue on a show called, ‘The Drum’ where they highlight both sides of the issue fairly. Although there was no Indigenous representative and the views are quite light, the members were fair and reasonable. Much different to that of Channel 7’s Sunrise.


I’m sure you’re asking how does this tie in with media ownership. Well I used this example to highlight how powerful the media can be. If an owner wants a certain angle or point driven, that owner can do it over multiple mediums. Thus it is so important to keep the media diverse in ownership so we aren’t all thinking the same way.

Media’s Social Anxieties

Media is a result of human demand. The media is a constantly changing and adapting machine due to the wants, need and beliefs of society. That means the anxieties that are believed to be created by the media are created by the problems facing society at that certain point in time. For example, if there is an increase in violence it is common that violent video games are put to the blame. Throughout this piece I will focus on the anxieties that face social media as its now something that my generation has grown up with and to be frank is hard to imagine life without it. At this point in time the main anxiety in this facet of media is intrusion of terrorist brands into the medium.

The Islamic State (ISIS) have used social media to spread their message of violence and propaganda. ISIS do this through videos, posters and general hate spreading messages across numerous social media mediums. This is the most serious anxiety in the media today as it is one of the most prominent issues facing the safety of basically the whole world. This creates more angst for the already criticised form of media. Social media has been under fire since the day it began, due to issues such as cyber bullying, laziness and even blamed for decline in social skills. ISIS have utilised social medias ability to reach all corners of the globe to be able to recruit members simply over a Facebook conversation. This potentially gives ISIS soldiers all around the world. We have proof of this through the recent tragedies in Paris and Brussels but also there are been a number of young Australians devoting their faith to radical Islam.

Although this is the major anxiety at the moment there are underlying problems that are caused by people using the power of social media for bad. Another major issue is older men using social media to take advantage of vulnerable children using fake profiles. As mentioned before cyber bullying is a direct side-effect from social media. Causing depression in primarily teenagers and in extreme cases caused suicide.

Social Media if used in the wrong way creates many problems facing today’s society. The members of the so called ‘online generation’ have been brought up in an online reality, which can make things like cyber bullying and brainwashing from ISIS feel a lot more real.