Governor's NAIDOC Week Speech

On Thursday 7 July 2016, at Government House, the Governor and Mrs de Jersey hosted a reception in support of NAIDOC Week which in 2016 runs from 3-10 July. 

His Excellency made the following speech at the reception:

Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you all to Government House today to highlight NAIDOC Week 2016, and I respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera peoples.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of NAIDOC Week in its current format. The event is an opportunity for remembrance, reflection, pride, and celebration, and for recognition, through NAIDOC Awards, of outstanding contributions by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in 2016. 

One outstanding contribution fresh in Queensland minds is the series-clinching win by the Maroons in Brisbane just two weeks ago – by a team replete with the marvellous talents of players with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.

The second, more sombre, contribution has belatedly been recognised as we commemorate the centenary of Australian involvement in World War One – the service and sacrifice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who volunteered to fight in that conflict. I once again acknowledge that service and sacrifice today, with pride and gratitude.

Inclusiveness was a theme I centrally proclaimed when assuming this 26th Governorship.

Over the last couple of years, Kaye and I have been privileged to visit a number of Indigenous communities – particularly in the Gulf region, the Western Cape and the islands of the Torres Strait. We have visited also schools, health care initiatives, both regionally, and those which support Indigenous Queenslanders living in urban areas… and what a thrill it was last year to host the students of the Murri School on the vice-regal train: and as you may know, those excited young faces peering from the carriage became the face of last year’s vice-regal Christmas card. 

Yet short-term excitement aside, the need to address long-running issues affecting all of us is pressing: the scourges of domestic violence, sexual abuse, substance abuse – they must not overwhelm communities, cultures, heritages.

There are discussions to be had about Constitutional recognition and a possible Treaty, and those discussions, owing to their complex nature, take time. 

And what I think is a basal problem, unemployment and under-employment, must fundamentally be addressed; and together with that – the familial and civic pride engendered by true home ownership.

Kaye and I are always enlivened to visit, as we did last year, towns and communities like Aurukun, Cherbourg and in the Torres Strait, and Doomadgee this year. A highlight is visiting the schools. Those young faces, like those looking from the train last year, brim with hope and expectation. Our challenge, ladies and gentlemen, is to help fulfil that hope and expectation.

What we think is a worthwhile contribution from us, from this influential role, is to acknowledge that we Queenslanders must support each other, united in heritage, and importantly, acknowledging large areas of disadvantage.

I take the view that vice-regal acknowledgement is very important. I believe Kaye’s and my expressed support for all our Indigenous co-citizens may, as we fervently hope, add to this sense of esteem as greatly valued Queenslanders – Australians.

In this spirit – the spirit of promoting our rich heritage, and acknowledging the dynamic contributions of all of you, tonight’s esteemed guests, Kaye and I wish NAIDOC Week 2016 the greatest of success.