Memories from a Forgotten People: 150 years of Australian South Sea Islander contributions to Queensland

Memories from a forgotten people

This event is now in the past.

Australian South Sea Islanders have a special place in Queensland's cultural diversity and history. They are the descendants of South Sea Islanders brought to Queensland from 1863 to 1904 from 80 Melanesian islands to work the state's cotton and sugar plantations. The 62,000 men, women and children were considered a source of cheap labour with many being kidnapped, tricked or 'blackbirded'. By 1908, many had been deported under the ‘White Australia’ policy and those who remained suffered harsh treatment and discrimination. Today, Australian South Sea Islanders have a unique identity in Queensland which is embedded in a rich heritage and vibrant culture.

To mark the contribution of Australian South Sea Islanders to Queensland over the past 150 years, State Library of Queensland, Queensland Museum and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art will present a range of exhibitions, projects and events from June to November 2013.

Join us in recognising this important anniversary with a weekend of workshops, discussions, tours and music at the Cultural Precinct, South Bank from 16 – 18 August, 2013.

Download the Anniversary Weekend Program

Visit the Australian South Sea Islander blog.

Various throughout the Cultural Precinct, Stanley Place, South Bank, South Brisbane

Program of events

Portrait of two South Sea Islanders from the Pioneer Sugar Mill, Brandon, Queensland, 1880s, negative number 9925, John Oxley Library.

A night in the JOL: Bittersweet Queensland

John Oxley Library Reading Room, level 4, State Library
Starts 21st Aug 2013, 6pm - 8pm

 Hear personal and professional experiences of telling sensitive, confronting and powerful stories of Australian South Sea Islanders.     
Memories from a forgotten people

The Australian South Sea Islanders

The Studio, level 1, State Library
Starts 27th Jul 2013 10:00am-5:00pm, then Every day, until 28th Aug 2013

Revealing the hidden and difficult stories of Australian South Sea Islanders in Queensland and showcasing a resilient and vibrant community today
Labour vessel, the Heath, arriving in Ross Creek, Townsville, Queensland, ca. 1878. SLQ negative number 100161

Symposium: A Time for Telling

SLQ Auditorium 1, level 2
Starts 17th Aug 2013, 10am - 3pm

Join in a compelling conversation with Australian South Sea Islanders about their remarkable history and contemporary identity 
Australian South Sea Islanders 1880s SLQ Negative number 158127

Australian South Sea Islander research discovery workshop and white gloves experience

John Oxley Library Reading Room, level 4, State Library
Starts 18th Aug 2013, 11am - 12:30pm

Discover and engage with Australian South Sea Islander heritage resources

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