Rockhampton Tourism was forced to pull a social media marketing campaign after it was slammed for its “overpowering whiteness of everything”.
The film features several Caucasian actors exploring the North Queensland city frequenting coffee shops, gyms and restaurants.
The video, which cost $6000 to produce, officially launched at a media event on Monday.
Speaking at the event, Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow said it was part of a wider national campaign to take “Rockhampton to the rest of the country and indeed the world”.
“The first video we’ve produced is all about the lifestyle our region has to offer and the Fitzroy River features heavily with the fishing, the rowing sports and the spectacular views,” she said in a press release.
“Our Riverside precinct also stars along with the stunning Mount Archer as well as local restaurants and attractions.”
However, just hours after the launch, residents of Rockhampton and neighbouring communities were taking to social media to condemn the tourism campaign.
Local Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman Amy McQuire said, “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.
Hello Amy, we have now taken this video down. 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.
— Rockhampton Regional Council (@RRCouncil) June 11, 2018
“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.”
She added, “To me, it’s about the history of this country and the fact that we as Aboriginal people have survived.
“We do have a diversity in our community now — we have a lot of members of the Asian community, we have a large Muslim community, we have a large African community — to me, it didn’t represent the community I grew up in.”
“But I always just wonder how they could not have seen that first?” she said.
“I wonder particularly about the diversity within Rockhampton Regional Council — why that wasn’t picked up before they actually promoted it? I think it was a good apology, but it should never have happened.”
Strelow then made a public statement about the video following the criticism.
“I’m here to say mea culpa,” she said.
— Andrea Crothers (@abcrothers) June 12, 2018
“It’s obvious that there has been a real shortage or a dearth of inclusive material, anything that really represents what our community is really made of.
“I had an email from a very dear friend who is of Asian descent, and he said it had struck him before that our marketing material didn’t represent the diversity of this region.
“So it’s high time we got that right.”
Though, Strelow omitted details of who made the video.
“Look, I’ll take ultimate responsibility, I’m the Mayor. I saw the video. Hundreds of eyes saw the video.”