Sport and Queensland Aboriginal reserves in the 1920s and 1930s: ideology, revenue and exploitation

Osmond Gary, Lionel Frost

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Rugby league flourished in the Aboriginal settlements run by the Queensland government in the 1920s and 1930s, as officials relaxed policies of segregation and isolation to allow Aboriginal teams to travel within the state. Revenue from the games, at times significant sums, went to government trust accounts and not directly to the settlements. Available data on this sporting income and government spending policies reveals an exploitative system, ethically comparable to Stolen Wages and reflecting the dispossession of Aboriginal Queenslanders in this era. While sport bolstered community pride, these exploitative dimensions qualify its contribution to Aboriginal wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-72
Number of pages21
JournalAsia-Pacific Economic History Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Aboriginal Australians
  • Queensland
  • rugby league
  • sport
  • stolen wages

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