Revealed: What happened to Borobi
A TRADEMARK dispute has left much-loved Commonwealth Games mascot Borobi languishing in a storage box in Brisbane, despite months of promises and an ongoing fight by the council to have the koala brought home.
One year on from the Commonwealth Games, and following questions from the Bulletin, the State Government has announced it will use a Borobi animation as an indigenous language champion helping the Yugambeh Museum teach primary school students about indigenous languages.
But the fate of the distinctive blue mascot suit remains unknown.
Trademark licensing issues with the Commonwealth Games Federation have hamstrung city council plans to use Borobi for other community events like Christmas Carols and the Gold Coast Eisteddfod.
Instead, the suit has spent the 12 months since the 2018 Games collecting dust in a storeroom at the Queensland Museum.
Mayor Tom Tate, who is supportive of Borobi's role in the promotion of indigenous languages, has called for the mascot to be released for other community events across the Gold Coast.
"Nobody puts Borobi in the corner," Cr Tate told the Bulletin yesterday.
"Borobi is much more than a mascot. He represents the indigenous values and stories of this area and he doesn't deserve to be left in a storage box in some dark back room.
"We have Borobi statues along our walking trails and these attract thousands of selfies every month. Borobi is a symbol of the success of the Games and of our indigenous heritage.
"I am determined to have the costumes here as part of our city's history so we can use them at non-commercial events like Eisteddfod, the annual Christmas Carols and civic arts and culture events.
"To quote that famous Dirty Dancing movie line, nobody puts Borobi in the corner.''
The Bulletin understands the city wrote to the Games federation last year seeking to broaden the use of Borobi at non-commercial events. But negotiations have stalled, with the international body refusing to relinquish its legal trademark rights over the mascot.
The federation would not comment on the record, but it is understood CGF president Dame Louise Martin will meet with the Mayor in May when she is on the Gold Coast for the world sport and business summit, SportAccord.
The federation also declined to comment on the length of Borobi's licensing and restrictions on use.
In November, State Tourism and Games Minister Kate Jones also called for Borobi to be returned home.
"Borobi should continue to be a valuable ambassador for the Gold Coast," Ms Jones wrote in a letter to the council.
In a letter to the federation, she said: "I'll continue to provide my support to have the broader rights to Borobi assigned to the city."
It is understood city officials will meet with Commonwealth Games Association officials next week to again try to resolve the trademark issues.
But with an agreement from the federation, the Borobi character is allowed to be animated and incorporated in the Yugambeh Online Language program.
It has been trialled in more than 18 schools and 36 early education centres in southeast Queensland since October 2018.
"At the height of his 'career', images of Borobi were beamed into the homes of 1.5 billion sport fans around the world," Minister Jones said.
"This year, Borobi will retrain as a teacher and will share his extensive knowledge of indigenous languages and culture with local primary school children."
Yugambeh Museum chief executive officer Rory O'Connor said the animated Borobi would feature on an online classroom teaching portal and might have broader applications in the future to help promote tourism and koala conservation.
"Borobi's unrivalled recognition and appeal to younger Queenslanders has been proven,'' he said.
"Now the Yugambeh Museum, with the support of the Queensland Government, will ensure his happy blue face is synonymous with language, storytelling and cultural revival.
"There used to be 250 indigenous languages spoken in Australia, now 90 per cent are considered endangered.
"Borobi will be a great asset in keeping indigenous Australian language alive.''