Reception in Support of NAIDOC Week 2019
Representing the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Mr Scott Stewart MP; Shadow Minister, Dr Christian Rowan MP; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. Good evening and welcome to your Government House, where we gather in support and celebration of NAIDOC Week 2019.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands of Brisbane and surrounds, the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, their elders and future leaders. I pay tribute to their powerful stewardship of the depth and richness of their culture over many millennia.
In two days time, Kaye and I will travel to Cairns to officially open, as Patron, the Cairns Indigenous Art. Now in its tenth year, the Fair promises a characteristically inspiring celebration of some of this country’s most talented artists. It is an event of which all Queenslanders can be justifiably proud.
The work of an exhibiting artist – Eric Orcher – has recently arrived at Fernberg. It is on display tonight, near the entry to Kaye’s study.
It joins the expanding Indigenous Art Collection proudly on display here at Government House.
Kaye and I went to Yarrabah in May. We met several artists at the Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Precinct and visited the school.
Kaye and I are always enlivened to visit schools on our regional visits – and Yarrabah State School was no exception. There we visited the ‘preppies’, with smiles as bright as the Coral Sea, quite literally on the school’s doorstep. We have also in the past year visited schools in Kowanyama and Pormparuuw. All of them, remarkable schools in remarkably enriching and resilient communities.
Our challenge, as always as a State, is to ensure our young people – in every corner – continue to be embraced by opportunity.
It is a reminder of that crucial stipulation, which must permeate the every day, and not just during NAIDOC Week, that we grow and prosper together.
The theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week, ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth.’ is highly fitting in this, the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.
For tens of thousands of years, the First Nations people of Australia told stories, found their voice, shared songs, passed on cultural and environmental knowledge, and provided a sense of empowerment and in some 250 languages, including 800 dialectical varieties.
Today, 90% of Indigenous languages in Australia are endangered. What a loss to our nation that is.
But loss is not what NAIDOC Week is about.
Rather, NAIDOC Week is a chance to reflect, and to celebrate the achievements and contributions of all Indigenous Australians… contributions which really define who we are as a nation.
The deserving recipients of this year’s National Awards, held in Canberra last Saturday, excellently epitomise these contributions. So, too, do the proud young women from the Bundaberg State High School Girls Academy, who made a special trip to be with us this evening. It would be remiss, also, not to mention now Ash Barty – accounting even for last night’s match, an enduring source of inspiration!
I acknowledge the work of the volunteers and staff who bring NAIDOC Week into communities and classrooms each and every year.
I am always inspired at the creative ways NAIDOC Week is celebrated and wish your initiatives continued success.
This is a week for listening, certainly – but it is a time also to talk, to learn and to share with each other the richness of Australia’s remarkable ancient and contemporary history.
In fact, I can’t think of a better outcome for this evening’s gathering.
So once again, a warm welcome to you all, as we invite you to join us in continuing your NAIDOC Week celebrations at Government House.