ASSI 150 PROJECT
In 2013 it will be 150 years since the first South Sea Islanders were brought into Australia to work as indentured labourers on plantations that were part of the opening up of the new colony of Queensland. Robert Towns had a cotton plantation at Townsvale (now Veresdale) near Beaudesert. This was the destination of the first Islanders brought into the country. They arrived at Redbank and walked 45 km to Townsvale stopping to break the journey at Jimboomba station. Other local plantation owners soon followed with the importation of South Sea Islander labour. After the failure of cotton growing on the Logan River, South Sea Island labour was used extensively to develop the sugar, pastoral and beche-de-mer industries in Queensland. During the period of use of South Sea Islanders as indentured labour up to 30,000 islanders were brought to this country. A change in government policy during the White Australia Policy days meant that most of these people were shipped back to Melanesia. Some Islanders managed to stay in Australia and many moved to Northern NSW. Their descendants are scattered across Queensland and NSW but have made significant contribution to communities across Australia
The arrival of South Sea Islanders is a significant part of the history of the Scenic Rim, Logan, Ipswich, the Gold Coast , Redlands, Morton Bay and the Tweed districts. It is a significant Queensland and Australian story and most importantly an Australian South Sea Islander story. The project will focus on the South East Queensland and Northern NSW region
This is a collaborative project involving local governments of South East Queensland and Northern NSW, Museums and Gallery Services Queensland, heritage groups, individual artists and the Australian South Sea Islander community.
Commemoration events will take place August 2013.