Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

140707 - Speech - NAIDOC Week launched

07 July 2014

Remarks by Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea HE Ms Deborah Stokes during the NAIDOC Week launch at the Australian High Commission, Port Moresby

NAIDOC Week has been celebrated throughout Australia every year in July since 1957.

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture, achievements and contribution of indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to Australia.

Indigenous cultures in Australia are rich and diverse and the achievements of Australia’s indigenous are significant across many fields, including the arts, media, academia and sport. These achievements have been by women as well as men.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is ‘Serving Country: Centenary and Beyond’.

We honour all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have fought in defence of Australia.

We proudly highlight and recognise the role they have played in shaping Australia’s identity and we honour their sacrifice.

Australia recognises that it has a way to go to address the disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and is committed to closing the gap between Indigenous and other Australians.

On 13 February 2008 the Australian Parliament made a National Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples.

The Apology, passed with bipartisan support, honoured the Indigenous peoples of this land and reflected in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations.

The Prime Minister is a strong advocate for Indigenous Australians and has given priority to addressing these issues. He himself has spent time teaching English to children in indigenous communities over many years.

The Government is committed to pursuing recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution and will announce its approach to taking this forward later this year.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has worked hard to increase the numbers of indigenous Australians in its ranks.

Over the years it has supported scholarships and cadetships for promising indigenous Australians.

DFAT supports its Indigenous staff through an Indigenous Employees Network (IEN) which provides mentoring for Indigenous employees

The Department also has an Indigenous Taskforce to oversee its policies and support for Indigenous Australians

DFAT actively promotes awareness and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and issues within the Department and externally in our public diplomacy.

2014 NAIDOC Week performance

To launch NAIDOC Week this year, we are privileged to see a performance today by the Saibai Island dance group Myungu Koekaper (moing-nor ka-ka-pear). They are here for the Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture.

As many of you know, Saibai Island is only four kilometres from Papua New Guinea. The islanders share many close cultural and linguistic ties with Papua New Guineans.

We look forward to your performance today and over the next two days at the Melanesian Festival.

I am delighted to invite Mr Jehemess Wagea Pariala (Jemess Wagea Pariala) from the dance group to introduce the performance.

Thank you.