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The XXI Commonwealth Games set the bar high when it came to inclusivity.
From start to finish, the Commonwealth Games Festivals & Ceremonies 2018 have been the most inclusive sports and athletics event ever held, anywhere in the world, especially when celebrating Indigenous culture.
Image credit - Creative Commons Griffith University
Every little piece of the puzzle was considered and thoughtful outcomes planned before the games even began. The volunteer uniforms, made by Hard Yakka, featured Indigenous designs, as did the Presentation trays at Medal Ceremonies. The riot of colour did not stop there, with vibrant rainbow-hued Indigenous designs on everything from posters, signage, and influencing event styling – even local bus stops had a makeover!
The breathtaking Opening Ceremony’s Indigenous smoking ceremony brought inclusivity to life, along with games programs where both able-bodied and athletes with a disability would compete side-by-side. This, more than anything, was a giant step in the right direction.
The opening ceremony deserves special mention – Migaloo the Whale, kombis, surf life-saving, and beach culture were the centrepiece of this stunning production, but equally, the performance of the iconic Australian song “My Island Home” by Indigenous singer Christine Anu, and the dance showcases choreographed by Stephen Page, the Artistic Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre (an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island performing arts company) was magical.
This dance featured both professional dancers, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and Elders from across the Yugambeh Nation. This was made possible by a collaboration called the Rekindling program, designed to inspire kinship, pride and strength in those who participate in the storytelling extravaganza.
The Athletics Parade of the Opening Ceremony was yet another visible representation of inclusion, with over 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth being represented with athletes of every age, colour, and gender proudly marching along.
On the artistic side, Indigenous visual artist Brian Robinson from the Torres Strait Islands was commissioned to create ‘The Parade Track’.
One of our favourite things about the Commonwealth Games 2018 was the cutest mascot ever made. Borobi, the Indigenous word for koala wears boardshots, carries a surfboard and never leaves home without the all important zinc cream!
Borobi, the blue-hued surfing koala, also gives a nod to our local Indigenous culture by featuring a design by Indigenous artist Chern’ee Sutton on his paws.
According to the GC2018 team, the patterns tell the story of the games – every Commonwealth country is represented by the ‘campsite’, the big circle on Borobi’s feet. The athletes’ journey to the Games is indicated by the lines directing to the main meeting place on the Gold Coast. This is shown as a circle, which also means ocean/water in Yugambeh language.
But the fun fact of the day is that the wavy lines on Borobi’s fingertips represent the 11 days of the Commonwealth Games competition, and the scattered dots symbolise the spectators and visitors that hail from around the globe.
We, of course, contributed to the theme of inclusion by creating a series of products – a specially commissioned mat, pod chair and cushions – in Garrima design. This design was created by the one-and-only Christine Slabb, an Indigenous artist from Fingal in Northern NSW just over the Gold Coast border.
What a magnificent sight it was to see these mats, pods and cushions on the world stage, especially bringing Aboriginal artistry to life on a recycled plastic mat product that can be used both in and outside the home.
We are just so proud of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and what it meant for the coast in terms of bringing a sense of pride and a sense of ownership to locals.
To have a world class event such as the Commonwealth Games on home turf in our little pocket of the world, and for it to be such an outstanding representation of inclusion in the wider community is priceless.