'Whitewash' tourism ad removed after social media backlash

A Queensland council’s tourism video has been pulled down just hours after it launched following complaints the “whitewash” commercial showed nothing of indigenous culture.

The Rockhampton Regional Council launched the $6000 video at a media event on Monday but critics were quick to point out how there was no recognition of the indigenous population which makes up seven per cent of region.

The commercial starts with a series of panning landscape shots, a local coffee shop and a group of women enjoying a lunch at a restaurant – but it wasn’t long before some of the commercial’s first viewers noticed something was missing.

“The first reaction I had was just how it whitewashes the history of the Rockhampton region and not only our proud Darumbal history, but also the history of the South Sea Islander people,” local resident Amy McQuire told The ABC.

The commercial was accused of being a complete ‘whitewash’. Source: Rockhampton Regional Council
The council was blasted for showing a local cafe instead of recognising indigenous culture. Source: Rockhampton Regional Council
The ad showed a group of women working out in a local gym. Source: Rockhampton Regional Council

“It was the overpowering whiteness of everything — they’re talking about [Rockhampton] being unique and being in the sunshine, and they’re showing coffee and the gym.”

As the social media scrutiny intensified, Rockhampton Regional Council responded, saying they had taken down the video.

“You are right and we should not be promoting the Rockhampton Region without celebrating the Darumbal people, the area’s long history, and our diverse community. We apologise and we will do better,” the council responded

Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow took to Facebook first thing Wednesday morning questioning the “whitewash” label, saying the video was “more inclusive then it may appear at first glance”.

The mayor said there was in fact one Darambul woman in the tourism ad. Source: Rockhampton Regional Council

She said the opening shot shows a proud Darumbal woman rowing on the Fitzroy River, while the short clip also includes a “proud Greek Australian” and a woman “clearly of Asian descent”.

While acknowledging that the images of rower do not represent the full depth of the region’s indigenous contribution, Mayor Strelow questioned social media users labelling it an “all-white video”.

“I made the decision to take the video down the moment it was pointed out that it lacked diversity. I made the call that the charge required immediate action,” she said.

Yahoo7 News has contacted Rockhampton Regional Council for comment.