Category: Indigenous

Not everyone is enamoured with the G20 process.  Activists in Brisbane, frustrated with the continual failure of the G20 leadership to focus on real solutions to issues such as Poverty, Employment, Climate and Environment, have taken it upon themselves to offer alternatives.   Not just protesting, but implementing a series of thought provoking and uplifting events that will reverberate long after G20 in the hearts and minds of those working towards change.


First Nations Decolonisation Before Profit Program:

This is the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy (BASE) response to the G20 summit.  BASE activists have worked to gather First Nations people from around Australia and the World to meet at Musgrave Park for a week of discussions and activities. An expected 3000 people will converge on Musgrave Park over the week.

More info:


BrisCAN-G20 Peoples’ Summit:

BrisCAN is a loose network of activists and community groups from Brisbane who are presenting a three day alternative to the G20 Summit.  A Peoples’ Summit, bringing together speakers and experts in alternative economics, environment and labour from around Australia and the World to explore alternatives to the G20 ‘profit at all costs’ agenda.

More info:


Along with these two showcase events, are many small events.  To keep abreast of what’s on, visit





Brisbane Blacks & Aboriginal Embassy In less than a month 20 representatives from the biggest economies of the world will meet in Brisbane. The summit is set to bring Queensland and Australia into the world’s spotlight—at least it will if Tony Abbott makes good on his President Putin shirtfront declaration. However, we won’t see much of what is really happening in the meetings as they are not open to the public, despite most of the member countries claiming to be democracies

During the summit the city will be patrolled by 6,000 police officers, access to the city will be highly restricted, and the Friday has been named a public holiday to reduce the volume of people. In fact the security operation is set to be one of the biggest in Australian history. Much Brisbane city council is preparing cultural celebrations in the lead up to the summit, but not everyone in the city is happy with the G20 summit. In fact a lot of the security preparations are in anticipation of the large numbers of expected protesters who are also organising their own events.

BRISBANE BLACKSWe met up with some of the main groups organising the G20 protests to find out what they’re planning. We met BoeSpearim the organiser for the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and Callum Clayton-Dixon the co-editor of Brisbane Blacks at Musgrave Park, an important site for Brisbane’s Aboriginal community and the centre of the events they are planning for the G20, and talked about world politics and environment.

The G20 have stated that their main focus is economic growth, one at odds with the protester’s and much of the publics concern over issues around the environment and human rights. “Economical growth is basically exploiting the land of Indigenous people.. It’s the clash of two worlds and it is the rise of the economic benefit of the few,” Boe says.

Boe and Callum are not overly concerned with catching world leader’s attention, but rather see the G20 week as an opportunity for Aboriginal people and the broader community to engage. The protests at the 1982 Commonwealth games in Brisbane made history as Aboriginal people came all together from all over the country for the abolition of the Aboriginal Protection Act and the Apartheid Legislation. The G20 protests have the same potential, there are buses coming from Cairns and Melbourne to support the protests, “the whole idea of putting up these events is to galvanize the movement, to put us into the next stage of the movement, to inspire and give motivation to our own people, to get as all active again,” Callum says.

BRISCANLater in the day, I met with BrisCAN-G20 spokesperson Robin Taubenfeld and a handful of individuals from activist groups the Occupy movement, Friends of the Earth, Socialist Alliance, and the West End community. They also believed the G20 representatives won’t be solving the world’s real problems, “We are in a time when corporations and decision makers are putting an agenda of growth which is in direct opposition with the planet and the climate and for human rights here in Australia and globally,” Robin says.

When asked if they felt suitably represented by Tony Abbott on the world stage they literally laughed. “We are not going to get our freedom from the people that have been oppressing us but from the people that feel the same way that we are feeling,” Boe said. While Robin and the BrisCAN-G20 crew said the Prime Minister had a “political agenda for intentional disregard for the community and the planet as a way of showing force.”

Abbott’s declaration that the G20 won’t focus on climate change has the community concerned, as has the current government’s decisions to support mining and fossil fuel industries despite the US committing to reduce their own carbon emissions.

Musgrave Park2The list of issues is understandably long, but all the protesters agree that the international attention can be a positive tool for change. For the Aboriginal community it would be an opportunity to speak about their history and connect with others around the world, “at the end of the day it’s not world leader we want to speak to, it is the other Indigenous and oppressed people around the world we want to open a dialogue with.” BrisCAN-G20 and the Aboriginal community are committed to broaden these communications with various talks, symposiums, concerts and workshops that can bring grass-root based solutions to the problems that are not being addressed by the G20’s decisions, that would affect not only Australia but the world’s non-privileged population.

Follow Laura on Twitter@laurarc91

The Keep QLD Nuclear Free network hosted a conference today to welcome Naoto Kan to Brisbane and to ask Mr Kan about his position on nuclear power. Mr Kan was Prime Minister of Japan during the Fukushima Nuclear disaster.

Mr Kan spoke of the failure of TEPCO and authorities to contain the disaster and of the affects on the prefecture of Fukushima. He described the Fukushima disaster as without precedent and without any technology yet capable of cleaning up the site. The cores of several reactors continue to melt down without any real ideas on how to stop the process, and top soil removed from the site will have to be stored for thousands of years.

When asked about his position on Nuclear power now compared to before the disaster, Mr Kan said his view had changed 180 degrees. As of today, no nuclear power plants are operating in Japan, having been mothballed while a decision is made about how or if the plants can be operated safely.

Earlier this week Mr Kan visited northern Australian Indigenous communities to talk with Elders about the issues of Nuclear power and nuclear mining.

Below are photos from the conference:

Naoto Kan Brisbane (1)

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In the year 1982, Aboriginal groups fed up with the lack of land rights and the continual disenfranchisement of Indigenous people saw the coming Commonwealth Games as an opportunity to bring attention to their plight on the world stage, and to hopefully shame the government into bringing about change.

Thousands of protesters converged on Musgrave Park and set up camp in a grassroots movement intent on making the voice of protest heard.

The Queensland Bjelke-Peterson  government of the day responded by making all street marches illegal.  A state of emergency was declared.  Apart from two approved marches, no other protests were to be tolerated.  Nevertheless protests were organised, and over the period of the games close to 500 protesters were arrested at several illegal marches.

The protests put land rights, and other injustices that Aboriginal people have been (and continue to be) subjected to, into the international media and informed debate and protest actions for years after.  The protesters at these marches embodied the spirit of all the great protest movements of history.  Not long after the Games, the various Aboriginal Protection Acts (which served to discriminate against and exploit Aboriginal people) in QLD were finally abandoned, and changes to Land Rights were enacted.  The Hawke government, in light of the Commonwealth Games protests, and in an effort to avoid escalating protests, introduced some changes to Indigenous policy such as changes to the hated Department of Aboriginal Affairs (which became ATSIC, with Indigenous representation) and the establishment of a Reconciliation Commission, both moves which were largely cosmetic or tokenistic and enacted without due consultation, but nevertheless showed the seriousness with which the government was taking Aboriginal activism.

In commemoration of these events, starting in 2012 the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy has been holding Anniversary celebrations in October of every year.  The event includes Rallies, Music, Movies and other entertainment and activities.

The event is particularly poignant in light of the recent activities by Brisbane City Council and the QPS to suppress the Sovereign Embassy.  See here for photos of the Embassy eviction involving over 200 police in May 2012.

Below are some photos of the 31st Commonwealth Games Protest Anniversary that was held this weekend (11-13 October 2013).  Photos by Embassy photographer Brendon Qu.

(more photos can be seen on the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy facebook page.)

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

Singer Teila Watson. 31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

Forum discussion group. 31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

Singer Andrew Paine. 31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

Singer Phil Monsour. 31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

2 Black! 31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer




Media release (Via BASE)

 28 July 2013

 Brisbane Aboriginal Embassy to host Freedom Flotilla to West Papua

The Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy will be hosting travellers in the Freedom Flotilla from Lake Eyre to West Papua at our meeting place. The Freedom Flotilla will be welcomed to Jagera country at the sacred fire on Tuesday evening from 4pm on the 30th of July. The flotilla is expected to stay in Brisbane for a few days.

 The flotilla’s purpose is to bring attention to ongoing genocide in West Papua since the Indonesian invasion in 1971. A media blackout prevents foreign journalists from entering the country.

Jacob Rumbiak, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Federated Republic of West Papua, as well as Uncle Kevin Buzzacot of Arabunna country, a long time leading elder in the fight against uranium mining, are the forefront of the campaign and will be among the inspirational speakers at the ceremony on Tuesday.

 “We have a responsibility to care for our brothers and sisters from across the water. We must bring the water and the fire, the love and the music to heal the country and move in solidarity,” said Buzzacott.

Water ceremonially gathered from the sacred mound springs in Arabunna country south of Lake Eyre is travelling with the flotilla to be united with its head waters.

“We work for world peace and justice, we start from our region, the Pacific,” said Rumbiak.

The Flotilla departs from Cairns in a few weeks, making its way up to the Torres Strait and across to West Papua.

Supporters in Brisbane are encouraged to come and pitch a tent with the convoy during its stay at the embassy. There will be music (courtesy of the travellers’ mobile PA), food via Food Not Bombs, and Chai, during their time in Brisbane.

For more info contact:

Uncle Kevin Buzzacot 0417 838 906 (Freedom Flotilla)

Boe Spearim 0424 610 492 (Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy)

For more details about the plight of West Papua and updates on the progress of the Flotilla goto: