NAIDOC Week 2023 Reception
Minister for Treaty, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnership, Minister for Communities and Minister for the Arts, the Honourable Leeanne Enoch MP; representing the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Councillor Clare Jenkinson; Directors-General; Curator, Dr David Hinchliffe; Gaja Kerry Charlton; Ms Sandra King OAM; Distinguished guests; Ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by thanking Mr Shannon Ruska and the incredible dancers from Tribal Experiences and Gaja Kerry Charlton for welcoming us to Country.
I also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my deepest respects to Elders past, present and emerging, whose immense influence is being highlighted through this year’s NAIDOC Week theme.
Graeme and I also extend our respects to all First Nations people here this evening, as we come together to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s history, culture and achievements in this highly anticipated NAIDOC celebration.
Tonight, at Government House, we are proud to be showcasing the outstanding talents of Indigenous designers, artists and artisans through a Fashion Parade and Art Exhibition—a first of its kind event to be held here—and an important way for us to acknowledge and appreciate the unique vibrancy, beauty and significance of Indigenous creative expression.
The artworks featured within Government House are visually stunning, but they also make us ask questions and encourage us to learn more about the rich cultural representation of our country’s shapes and moods, and to discover more about the meaning behind their artistic creation.
A similar influential power is also embodied in the words and actions of Indigenous Elders—who are the focus of this year’s NAIDOC Week. They have guided their people across countless generations, imparting knowledge and wisdom to build stronger, more cohesive families and communities.
Elders are cherished and valuable “whole of life” coaches—teaching cultural skills and practices, and significantly, passing on the intangible, not just through storytelling and yarning, but through exemplary leadership.
In my travels throughout the State, I have been proud to visit Indigenous communities, such as Cherbourg, Wujul Wujul, Hope Vale and Woorabinda, and am always impressed by the deep respect shown to the older residents, whose life experiences may have been impacted and shaped by tremendously confronting challenges and inequalities, but who always readily offer a generous smile and the time to talk.
They are truly inspirational.
The journey towards reconciliation is ongoing, and while our Elders do so much in their communities to encourage understanding and build resilience, ultimate success will require the hard work and determination of us all.
The annual Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, which I will be attending next week, is another chance for non-Indigenous people to become more informed, while they also enjoy all the genius and vibrancy on show.
I am sure that occasions such as these create greater understanding, and build pride for the unique, ancient Indigenous influence that enriches everyone.
I would like to thank the exceptional artists and artisans for allowing their works to be shown at Fernberg; Dr David Hinchcliffe for curating the Exhibition and loaning the artworks, and Artisan for curating the crafted items on display.
I extend this appreciation to the fashion designers and models—whose talents will soon be on show here in our Investiture Room—and all the organisers and helpers.
Finally, I thank all of you here this evening, for contributing to the richness and vitality of Indigenous life in this state, as we look towards a future informed by the wisdom of the past but invigorated by our shared optimism and commitment. Please enjoy this special occasion.