Rapper, record label, writer, author, and comedian Adam Briggs, who is widely known as a strong voice for social justice, particularly for Indigenous peoples, has set his sights on the Melbourne Storm NRL club.
Known as 'Briggs', he's been a passionate supporter of the Storm since the club's inception in 1998.
Briggs has directed a scathing letter at the club's chairman, Matthew Tripp, regarding a contentious donation made by corporate director Brett Ralph.
A significant $75,000 was made by Ralph to the 'No' campaign group, Advance Australia, just before a pivotal referendum in Australia. The referendum aimed to determine whether the Australian Constitution should be altered to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to advise Parliament on matters that directly affected them.
Initially heavily supported, the 'Yes' campaign faltered considerably over time in its campaign to cut through to undecided voters, and eventually, the referendum was defeated with around 60% of Australians voting 'No.'
The outcome is seen by many experts as an action that could inflict lasting damage on First Nations people, effectively suspending any hopes of modernising Australia's founding document.
Briggs, who was an ardent supporter of the 'Yes' campaign, was vocal in his disapproval of the donation and the Melbourne Storm's support for the 'No' campaign. The Melbourne Storm had officially declared their backing for the 'Yes' vote, aligning themselves with the cause to provide Indigenous Australians with a voice in Parliament.
The NRL boasts a high representation of Polynesian, South Sea Islander and First Nations players and has often been at the forefront of social issues. For Briggs, the referendum was not about politics but rather a humanitarian issue, highlighting the rights and recognition of Indigenous people.
In his open letter addressed to the club's chairman, Briggs expressed his profound concerns that the donation to the 'No' campaign only served to amplify misinformation and fearmongering against Indigenous people. He emphasised that such actions have the effect of devaluing the contributions of Indigenous communities to Australian society and ultimately, the nation's identity.
Briggs is renowned for his outspoken stance on issues of race, identity, and Indigenous rights. In 2016, Briggs made headlines after calling partygoers who dressed as Aborigines in full black body paint 'redneck scumbags'.
Despite the passionate letter and Briggs' departure from alignment with the club, the Melbourne Storm has yet to respond to the concerns, leaving the controversy hanging in the balance.
The incident underscores the significance of ongoing dialogues and tensions surrounding Indigenous issues in Australian society, and it reaffirms the role of sports and influential individuals like Briggs in advocating for social change.