NAIDOC Week Reception 2017
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, the Honourable Mark Furner MP; our 24th Governor and 25th Governor-General, the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce – accompanied by grandchildren Lucinda and Claudia Browning; Shadow Minister, Mr Steve Minnikin MP; senior representatives of our public service; other distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that Kaye and I welcome you all to Government House tonight.
May I incidentally mention that on Wednesday, only three weeks ago, we were in Hope Vale, after time over preceding days in Aurukun, Lockhart River and Cooktown. What beautiful landscapes, what beautiful people!
We have visited many Indigenous communities over the last 3 years. What a privilege it is, for this vice-regal couple, to have the opportunity to meet with men, women and children so deeply and significantly enmeshed in our State’s vibrant history – and so potentially significant in its future expression.
Tonight’s celebration is designed to contribute to the broader program of NAIDOC Week events. And, in keeping with that spirit, I now respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands and waters around Brisbane, the Jagera and Turrbal peoples, who have contributed so much to our rich culture – may I extend respectful greetings to Elders.
The organisations and individuals celebrating with us today represent the wide range of your work, and the depth of your dedication to the interests, the well-being and the brightest of futures for Indigenous Queenslanders.
There are representatives active in the arts and health, in education, history and heritage, the media, sport, and in all three levels of government – among many others.
None of you will need to be convinced of the importance of this year’s NAIDOC theme – Our Languages Matter.
I can assure you from our experience there on 13th June that even the “pre-preppies” at Aurukun State School certainly are!
It is through language that Australia’s Indigenous people have always expressed, maintained, and passed on to new generations, their unique cultural identities. It is through language that they have strengthened connections with one another and established such powerful connections with country… a point reinforced so magnificently, if I may say, by the welcoming performance here this evening of the ‘Verandah Chix’, part of Queensland Music Festival’s ‘You’re The Voice’ Choral Program.
Neither will you need to be convinced that we are living through a highly important time for Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike.
The recent series of consultations among Indigenous peoples in Australia have given rise to a number of proposals for a way forward on constitutional recognition.
As Governor for all Queenslanders, I sincerely hope for a State and national dialogue on these matters that is serious, respectful, and that gives thorough and thoughtful consideration to the merits of these proposals.
I wish all those engaged in that dialogue success in finding an agreed way ahead.
To return, however, to this week’s celebrations, Kaye and I congratulate the winners of this year’s National NAIDOC Awards, held a few days ago in Cairns.
We applaud the many and varied ways in which NAIDOC Week has already been celebrated in Queensland this year, and we wish great success in relation to those events yet to come.
Tonight presents Kaye and me a wonderful opportunity to confirm the inclusive nature of this Office, and of this residence.
It has been the practice of many Governors to display artwork at Government House reflective as far as possible of the vibrant heritage of all our people. And so tonight, alongside a number of significant Indigenous artwork permanently on display in this Drawing Room, we proudly display the didgeridoo generously gifted to me in 2008 as Chief Justice while in Mount Isa by representatives of the Kalkadoon people, and in the Foyer, Aurukun ‘Ku camp dogs, a crocodile and a porcupine, from our recent visits to the Eastern Cape. Kaye and I look forward very much to attending CIAF in Cairns now but a week or so away, and the dining room table this afternoon displays three works purchased from the Lockhart River community, now part of the Government House Collection. Please have a look at them!
Ladies and gentlemen, we invite you all to continue to join us in proudly celebrating NAIDOC Week here at your Government House.