CREATE Foundation Official Opening of National Conference
Thank you Lucas. It is a great privilege to have been invited to officially open this important national conference.
I acknowledge Minister Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, and Minister for Child Safety.
I thank the Create Foundation for the invitation, and thank all of you for welcoming me so warmly, especially Kerry Charlton for her welcome to country and Gene Blow and Cultural Infusion for that wonderful performance. I extend my respects to the first Australians who lived on these Brisbane river lands, and to their elders and descendants today.
In introducing me, Lucas mentioned my long career in the law. It was a career which taught me many things about Australian society. Sadly, these lessons tended to be negative, including the extent to which we, as a society, have failed our young people. We have not listened to their voices and we’ve been slow to act in response to the concerns they have raised.
For the past year, as Governor, I have become even more aware of the needs that exist — but, importantly, I have also met some of the extraordinary individuals committed to action and change for the better.
Those exceptional people include the passionate founder of the CREATE Foundation, Jan Owen, and the Foundation’s dedicated staff and volunteers in every Australian State and territory. They have worked tirelessly for more than two decades to give young people in care a stronger voice and a better chance of reaching their full potential. On behalf of all Queenslanders, I thank those many men, women and young people for their continued effort and advocacy.
I also congratulate the Foundation on its decision to organise this second national conference. It is a bold undertaking to bring together people from all over the nation and from overseas for an event like this, and I know it would not have been possible without the support of sponsors. Those companies, as well as the Queensland and Australian governments, deserve the gratitude of the entire community — their sponsorship has enabled key stakeholders to come together to work towards genuine change, and I thank them sincerely for this.
Looking at the very busy program ahead, I think I can say confidently that not only will you enjoy the next three days, but you’ll be challenged and you will learn. Your heroes will inspire you; research results will encourage you; you will have the rare opportunity to be directly involved in discussion; and you’ll be able to share an extraordinary range of activities from cooking and art, to gaming, hip-hop, and song-writing — even a flash mob. I certainly don’t recall a legal conference ever promising to be so much fun!
I am very much looking forward to hearing today’s address by Tash Dale. As one of CREATE’s Youth Consultants, Tash recently appeared before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. She and several other young people in care took the opportunity to send a strong message to Australian society about the instability, the bureaucratic barriers, and the lack of resources and ongoing support which characterise the current systems for dealing with young people in care.
If there were a collective report card for us as Australians in this regard, it is clear that it would say “Can do better”, and indeed we must if our young people in care are to become resilient, engaged, fully contributing members of society.
It is now my honour to officially open this second national CREATE conference — I wish you an inspiring and fruitful three days and urge you all to listen well to the honest voices of real experience and to fully embrace the theme of ‘Youth for Change’.