Remembering the protests of the ‘82 Games

State Library of Queensland is marking the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Commonwealth Games with a social history exhibition of political protest.

Open from 30 September until 19 April, the State of Emergency exhibition will portray a time in Queensland history when Brisbane came alive with political demonstrations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander civil liberties, drawing attention on the world stage.

State Librarian Janette Wright said that after Indigenous activists threatened to interrupt the Commonwealth Games, Queensland’s then Premier, Joh Bjelke-Peterson, declared a ‘State of Emergency’ and proclaimed street marches to be illegal.

“The State of Emergency exhibition shows the heated political climate during this period in our history,” Ms Wright said.

“The lead-up to the Commonwealth Games was marked by condemnation as activists achieved their goal of international headlines to highlight policies of both Queensland and Federal governments.”

“The exhibition comprises original footage, photographs and personal stories from activists at the forefront of this revolutionary movement.”

“Visitors can reflect on the events that took place in Brisbane, the political climate of the time and the history of land rights for Indigenous Australians.”

A program of events will also be held featuring people involved in the 1982 protests.

Sam Cook, founder of the artist management and apparel company KISSmyBLAKarts, columnist for Tracker and founder of Australia’s Blak History Month will host A night by the fire on 6 November.

Tiga Bayles, a social activist and supporter of Aboriginal land rights, will talk about his life, experiences and views about Indigenous politics and protests at Yarnin’ time on 10 October. Descendent of the Wirri clan and the Birri Gubba Nation, Tiga was one of the original Aboriginal Tent Embassy members in 1972 and was involved in the Commonwealth Games protests in 1982.

Uncle Bob Weatherall, a Gumulray elder who works for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action, will host a second Yarnin’ time on 14 November. Uncle Bob had a lead role in establishing the Tent City in Musgrave Park in 1982 when Brisbane hosted the Commonwealth Games.

The Library Café is also hosting BL.INK: black ink, a night of performance each month as Indigenous creators share their stories. This Thursday, 20 September, the topic will be 82: a year of HINDERpendence, voicing the writings of a strong and political Black Australia fighting for equal rights.

Visit for more information.

State of Emergency
Open daily 10am–5pm, 30 Sep 2012 – 19 Apr 2013
kuril dhagun, level 1, State Library of Queensland

Media enquiries: Amanda Edwards, SLQ Communications
07 3842 9803 |

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