It's the story that left Aboriginal Australia and the world scientific community scratching their heads after the Minister for Indigenous Affairs told the BBC that Vegemite was being used by Aboriginal communities to make home brew.
By
Danny Teece-Johnson

Source:
NITV News
13 Aug 2015 - 5:22 PM  UPDATED 13 Aug 2015 - 9:01 PM

TRANSCRIPT

Natalie Ahmat: It's the story that left Aboriginal Australia and the world scientific community scratching their heads after the Minister for Indigenous Affairs told the BBC that Vegemite was being used by Aboriginal communities to make home brew. NITV News has fact checked the claims, and how they spread so quickly.

Danny Teece-Johnson: The say that news travels fast.

But the story of Vegemite home brew in remote Aboriginal communities has caused outrage in those communities and in Parliament House.

Recommended reading
Comment: Unravelling the story behind #Vegemitegate
It turns out the Federal Government is not seeking to place any restrictions on Vegemite, the salty yeast extract which according to a spokesperson for the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion can be used to make home brew.

Opposition Indigenous Affairs Shadow spokesperson, Shayne Nuemann, said the government had created a ridiculous side show of stereotypes.

But we thought it was a myth, so we checked the facts.

The spreading of the Vegemite rumour by the MInister was irresponsible more than it was sinister. But the impact of his comments to the BBC, created another stereotype for Australia's First and most vulnerable people as the images of Aboriginal children sitting around bath tubs in remote communities sucking Vegemite out of home brew was smeared around the world."

Recommended reading
Is it even possible to make Vegemite alcohol?
Scientists say it is highly unlikely that alcohol can be made from Vegemite as media were sent into a frenzy Sunday following reports that Indigenous communities were using the yeast extract to make moonshine.

The rumour sparked a global media storm with over 250 media organisations from around the world reporting a tiny rumour into a global fact.

Some of these media outlets are the largest and most respected in the world but not one of them fact checked the story and they have millions upon millions of subscribers.

It started with the BBC splashing it on the front of its website, then it got lifted by other large UK Press the Daily Mail and the Independent.

Then it sailed to America's largest media outlets including Time Magazine, the Washington Post, The Huffington Post and the Chicago Tribune.

It didnt stop there, ending up in Scotland, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and India to name a few.

All with the headline "Aboriginal Children getting drunk off Vegemite", just google Vegemite News in the last week and you can see it all for yourself.

Dr John Boffa from the Peoples Aclocohol Action Coalition says the stereotype is another insult, particularly as Aboriginal people are still suffering from the stereotypes which preceeded the infamous NT Intervention. Wasn't that started by a rumour and a lie?

But the problem isn't home brewing or grog running says Dr Boffa, there is broader discussion that needs to be had around alcohol abuse and how the problem is handled.

Despite repeated attempts for comment by NITV News, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion has refused to answer our questions or clarify his comments to the BBC.

But our mob took to social media to hit back with humour.

Danny Teece-Johnson, putting the Vegemite back in the fridge for NITV News.