NAIDOC Week Afternoon Tea
6 July 2015
Remarks by HE Ms Deborah Stokes
Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea
Australian High Commission
I would like to warmly welcome you to our NAIDOC Week celebrations here in Port Moresby.
NAIDOC stands for “National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee” and its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s who sought to increase awareness on the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians.
NAIDOC Week builds on this important early work to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This year’s theme: We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate highlights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ strong spiritual and cultural connection to land and sea.
The theme provides an opportunity to pay respects to country; to honour those who work tirelessly to preserve land, sea and culture; and to share the stories of many sites of significance or sacred places.
The living culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is intrinsically linked with these sacred places. And this year marks the anniversary of the handing back of one of these sacred places - Uluru - to its traditional owners some 30 years ago.
The Australian Prime Minister is a strong advocate for Indigenous Australians. The Australian Government is committed to closing the gap – in education, health, housing and community safety.
The Australian Government is working with Indigenous leaders across the country on ways to strengthen Indigenous leadership and ensure that Indigenous people have a greater say about how government services are delivered in their regions.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade continues to support Indigenous Australians in its ranks, including through scholarships and cadetships, an Indigenous Employees Network and an Indigenous Taskforce.
The Department’s Reconciliation Action Plan and Indigenous Recruitment and Career Development Strategy support opportunities to develop the skills and expertise of our Indigenous staff.
For example, last year, the department supported the participation of four members of our Indigenous Employees Network to participate in international meetings, including the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York and the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Today we are recognising and celebrating the contributions of Indigenous Australians in all fields including the arts, media, academia and sport.
We are privileged today to be joined by Tanisha Stanton, who is a member of the Australian women’s rugby 7s team who are in Port Moresby to participate in the Pacific Games. Tanisha is today’s guest speaker. Tanya is from the Gamilaroi people in NSW. Also with Tanisha today is Scott Brown, the Manager of the Australian women rugby team.
Please give our two visitors a round of applause.
Australia looks to a future that better understands and celebrates the unique connection that Indigenous Australians share to country, as we continue to build an Australia that reflects the achievements and furthers the aspirations of all our people.
I am now delighted to invite Tanisha Stanton to speak to us today.