Stephen Hagan

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Stephen Hagan
Born 1959
Cunnamulla, Queensland, Australia
Nationality Australian
Citizenship Australian
Education Marist College Ashgrove
Known for Writing, Aboriginal rights activism
Spouse(s) Rhonda Hagan

Stephen Hagan (Jnr) is an Australian author and activist.[1] He is also a newspaper editor, documentary maker, university lecturer and former diplomat.[2]

Early life[edit]

Stephen Hagan was born in 1959 in Cunnamulla in South West Queensland, Australia. His father, Jim Hagan, belonged to the Kullili people of the region, while his mother was from the nearby Kooma. Hagan spent his first seven years living on a camp on the outskirts of the town, before moving into a new house nearby – an experience that helped shape his perceptions of the socio-economic inequalities between the aboriginal population and white Australians.[3]

Success in high school led to an opportunity to attend boarding school at Marist College Ashgrove in Brisbane. From there he undertook training to become a teacher, but he reports that he became disillusioned with the system after being required to teach with "racist" texts.[3] As a result, he left teaching to work with a number of Indigenous organisations, and it was through them that he met and worked under Charles Perkins. From there he moved into the Department of Foreign Affairs, gaining a diplomatic post to Colombo in Sri Lanka.[3]

Upon returning to Australia he worked in both the public and private sectors, the latter including venturing into cultural tourism. More recently he lectured at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba while undertaking a doctorate.[3] In July 2010, Hagan became editor of the National Indigenous Times.[4] After promising to fix problems with plagiarism at the paper, Hagan left in December 2013. His suit for unfair dismissal was part of the reason the paper went into administration in 2015.[5]

E. S. "Nigger" Brown Stand[edit]

In 1999, Stephen Hagan visited the Clive Berghofer Stadium in Toowoomba, Queensland, and noticed a large sign declaring the name of the E. S. "Nigger" Brown Stand, which had been named after the 1920s rugby player Edwin Stanley Brown – also known as "Nigger" Brown, possibly in response to his pale skin and blond hair.[6] This prompted a long campaign to have the stand renamed to remove the offending nickname.

Hagan unsuccessfully pursued the case before the High Court and the Federal Court of Australia, both of which rejected his claim.[7]

In 2003 Hagan v Australia was heard before the United Nations' Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Hagan, the complainant, claimed the naming of the stand was discriminatory against him.[8] The committee recommended that Australia "take the necessary measures to secure the removal of the offending term from the sign".[9]

In 2008, the stand was demolished and the issue was resolved, and Toowoomba Sports Ground Inc agreed not to use the term in the future:[10] indeed they had given a similar undertaking in 1999.

As the dispute went through the courts Hagan was brought close to bankruptcy and received threats, according to his wife.[11] – including letters claiming to be from the Ku Klux Klan.[12] As a result of these threats and for the sake of his family, Hagan says, he decided to move house.[13]

Toowoomba labelled most racist city in Australia[edit]

On 1 December 2016 Hagan caused controversy when he labelled Toowoomba the "most racist city in Australia"[14] after a display of nine golliwog dolls were placed by a Terry White Chemists shop underneath a sign[15] inviting shoppers to "Experience a White Christmas". The controversy began when a Toowoomba man spotted the dolls unfortunately placed beneath the sign[16] and circulated a picture of it on Facebook[17] and Twitter.[18] The store's manager apologised and said they would not stock the dolls in the future.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Stephen Hagan is married to Rhonda Hagan; they have two children.[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]



  1. ^ "Indigenous activist Stephen Hagan". The Law Report. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 10 February 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Stephen Hagan". ABC Online Indigenous: Your Voice. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Stephen Hagan". Stephen Hagan (Personal website). Archived from the original on 28 August 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  4. ^ "USQ academic heads National Indigenous Times" by Jo-Ann Sparrow, University of Southern Queensland (14 July 2010) Archived 14 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Andrew Burrell (13 February 2015). "Push for National Indigenous Times". The Australian. The NIT's parent company, Destiny Publications was placed into voluntary administration last month over mounting legal bills sparked by an unfair dismissal case brought by former editor Stephen Hagan and a defamation case launched by former Fortescue Metals Group executive Michael Gallagher. (subscription required)
  6. ^ O'Shea, Ben (ed) (14 January 2009). "Big wind over a little word". The West Australian. Osborne Park, Western Australia. Archived from the original on 4 March 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2009. ; now here
  7. ^ Morley, Peter (1 December 2002). "'Nigger' row over, UN told". The Sunday Mail. Brisbane, Australia. p. 36. 
  8. ^ Miles, Janelle (24 April 2003). "UN rules on 'Nigger' name". The Advertiser. Adelaide, South Australia. p. 28. 
  9. ^ United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Stephen Hagan v Australia, Communication No. 26/2002, UN Doc CERD/C/62/D/26/2002 (20 March 2003)
  10. ^ Chilcott, Tanya (28 September 2008). "Toowoomba to drop 'Nigger' name from sports ground". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Hagan, Rhonda. "Nigger Lovers". Creative Spirits. Archived from the original on 25 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  12. ^ "Summer Series 9: "Stephen Hagan"". Message Stick. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 January 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  13. ^ Campbell, Jim (26 September 2008). "Stephen Hagan seeks $10,000 for hurt, suffering". The Toowoomba Chronicle. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  14. ^ "White Christmas 'golliwog' display labelled racist". The Toowoomba Chronicle. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  15. ^ "Toowoomba accused by activists of being Australia's most racist city after chemist shop display". The New Zealand Herald. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  16. ^ "Queensland chemist under fire for 'racist' golliwog display". Nine News. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  17. ^ "Offensive 'white Christmas' display sparks calls for Golliwog boycott in Australia". SBS Australia. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  18. ^ a b "Toowoomba accused by activists of being Australia's most racist city after chemist shop display Offensive 'white Christmas' display sparks calls for Golliwog boycott in Australia". The Courier-Mail. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016. 

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