Sport, Stories and Survival: Reframing Indigenous Sport History

ARC Future Fellowship

Sport helped create identity in Australian Indigenous communities during the 20th century amidst great social and cultural upheaval, nowhere more so than in institutionalised communities such as Government settlements and religious missions.

This Fellowship aimed to engage members of these communities in Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands in the history-making process to reveal untold stories about the sporting past, to revisit existing histories for new meanings, and to conceptualise new approaches to Indigenous sport history that emphasise positive memories around survival, pride and identity while not disavowing tragic and traumatic dimensions.

Funding Body

Australian Research Council -  Future Fellowships

Project outputs and outcomes

  • Involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members in yarning, story-telling and research guidance.

  • Creation of comprehensive Omeka databases on sport events and descriptions for each community – Palm Island, Thursday Island, Woorabinda and Yarrabah.

  • Contribution to community museums, knowledge centres, commemorative events, and to radio, print and social media sites.

  • Extended collaborations on behalf of communities with Queensland State Archives and State Library of Queensland

  • 19 journal articles and other publications.


The collaborative and consultative research approach modelled in this project highlighted the importance of centring Indigenous voices and perspectives in sport histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and has provided a template for similar collaborative projects between community and academic researchers.

For the communities involved, the project has inspired new, independent projects beyond the terms and life of the Future Fellowship.


Image: Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 8 April 1928, p. 1. Image courtesy of the State Library of Queensland.

Project members

Associate Professor Gary Osmond

Associate Professor
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences