Book Week 2022 Reception
Shadow Minister for Education and Shadow Minister for the Arts, Dr Christian Rowan MP; Vice-Chancellor, University of Southern Queensland, Professor Geraldine Mackenzie; State Librarian and Chief Executive Officer, State Library of Queensland, Ms Vicki McDonald AM; CEO, Brisbane Writers Festival, Ms Sarah Runcie; General Manger of Braille House, Mr Richard Barker; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging.
Just a week ago, Graeme and I had the pleasure of celebrating the beginning of Book Week with several of you at the Birrunga Gallery. This marvellous Indigenous gallery was an ideal choice of venue, reminding us that the creativity of First Australians today is expressed not just through the visual arts but also through literature – and that both are a part of a continuum of story-telling that reaches back for millennia.
Several of the 16 books selected this year as winners or honour titles reflect that Indigenous heritage; others explore the experience of the migrants and refugees who have helped create Australia’s cultural diversity; but all are splendid examples of this year’s theme, “Dreaming with eyes open”, because they all invite readers to step into their own story and enter the magical world of the imagination.
This week has seen parents all over Australia raiding the dress-up box to produce Book Week costumes, and the pressure will now be on to purchase or borrow the books that have earned that coveted Book of the Year sticker of the Book Council of Australia.
But the celebrations are not over yet. Teams of young readers around the country have been reading the shortlisted books and on Saturday we will know what they think of this year’s award winners when their Shadowers’ Choice awards are announced.
As with People’s Choice award at the Archibald Prize, it will be fascinating to see what Australia’s young critics think!
Book Week has now been connecting children to stories since 1945 and as Governor of Queensland and Patron of the Children’s Book Council of Australia in our State, I am committed to doing all I can to strengthen that connection and improve literacy, particularly among our Indigenous people.
Efforts are progressing under the National Closing the Gap Agreement but in 2020, while the share of Indigenous students at or above the national minimum standard in reading had improved over the previous decade, one in four Indigenous students in Years 5, 7 and 9, and one in five in Year 3, still remained below national minimum standards, with particularly low rates of literacy in remote areas where they are hampered by low parental literacy and poor school attendance.
Of course, these problems cannot be solved quickly or easily, but I am encouraged by the progress made to date.
Organisations such as the Children’s Book Council of Australia and programs such as Book Week, are an important part of helping us, as a nation, to reach equality. We just have to continue to dream with our eyes open.
Finally, on behalf of a grateful State, I would like to thank you for what you do in your respective fields to support literacy for all Queenslanders, and invite you to please enjoy the hospitality of Government House.