The Kookaburra

Issue 8 - June 2017 Posted: Tuesday 13 June 2017

2017-18 Budget announcement

This week the Palaszczuk Government announced an additional investment of $25.7 million for the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP) to help Close the Gap in education skills, jobs and economic opportunity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders and promote reconciliation and culture.

The programs that DATSIP will be responsible for implementing will boost employment, education and economic participation, while also assisting communities to reconnect with and celebrate language and culture.

Some of the programs DATSIP will deliver as part of the next steps to reconciliation, and to assist Queensland’s remote, regional and urban communities to remove barriers, increase opportunity and Close the Gap, are:

  • $1 million to help communities to preserve Indigenous languages and promote reconciliation and culture
  • $3 million additional for the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution program to facilitate the hand back of land to Traditional Owners, providing ongoing economic development and job opportunities
  • $616,000 to get started Queensland’s first social reinvestment pilot program in Aboriginal communities to support community-led initiatives
  • an additional $400,000 in Communities and Personal Histories per year to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders to reconnect with their past, families and culture
  • $560,000 over 4 years to support the involvement of Elder groups in the development of policy and local service delivery responses to child protection, family violence and kindergarten enrolments
  • $6 million in Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation (QATSIF) education scholarships for around 3,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students
  • $1.2 million for the Youth Employment Program in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Toowoomba to assist students and job seekers transition into work, training or higher education
  • $1.2 million over three years for the continuation of programs designed to address youth sexual violence and abuse
  • $500,000 in 2017-18 and $500,000 in 2018-19 to develop a performance framework to monitor outcomes and assist with working with the Australian Government on the Closing the Gap targets
  • capital works to improve community amenities and provide opportunity for jobs and acquisition of skills in communities, including Aurukun.

There are also key initiatives in other portfolio areas of relevance to DATSIP such as housing, infrastructure, education, health, and child safety. For more information, read the Queensland Government 2017-18 Budget Papers

Reconciliation Week 2017

Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) marked several significant milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey.

This year’s theme, Let’s Take the Next Steps, encourages us all to reflect upon these significant historical changes, as well as future actions to achieve reconciliation in Australia.

20th Anniversary of the Bringing them Home Report

A child places a flower at the Sorry Day ceremony.


National Sorry Day 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the Bringing them Home report and the ongoing healing of the Stolen Generations.

The report, documenting the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were stolen from their families and communities, was tabled in the Federal Parliament in 1997.

Among various statewide commemorations, a minute’s silence was observed on the Speaker’s Green of Queensland Parliament.

Students from the Murri School presented 20 handmade purple paper flowers on the Speaker’s Green symbolising native hibiscus and the resilience and healing of the Stolen Generations.

The Healing Foundation’s Chair of the Stolen Generations Reference Committee, Florence Onus, said the practices of the past have had a generational impact on families.

“The research shows us that the people affected by the forced removal of children - the Stolen Generations, their children and grandchildren - are 50% more likely to be charged by police, 30% less likely to be in good health, and 10% less likely to have a job.”

Link-Up (QLD) provides members of the Stolen Generation with free, professional and culturally-sensitive support.

“Each year we assist many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have been separated from their families and cultures due to forced removal, fostering, adoption or institutionalisation,” CEO Patricia Conlon said. “Reconnecting with family, culture and the past is an emotional experience, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples don’t need to embark on this healing journey alone.”

25th Anniversary of the Mabo decision

Mabo Day celebrations on 3 June marked the close of National Reconciliation Week 2017.

Twenty-five years ago, Australia’s high court abolished the notion of ‘terra nullius’, or land belonging to no one, to legally recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ special relationship to the land.

Torres Strait Islander, Mr Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo, courageously led the decade-long legal battle to pave the way for Native Title land rights.

The Mabo decision marked the beginning of a new era for Australia’s Indigenous people and their rights to land and required governments, pastoralists, and mining companies to take account of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights and claims.

Importantly, this formal recognition of Indigenous Australians’ enduring connection to country continues to shape legal, political and cultural perspectives.

The acknowledgement of this connection continues and to date more than 3.5 million hectares of land has been returned under the Queensland Government’s Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program.

50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, when Australians voted resoundingly to include Indigenous peoples in the national census.

This was a defining moment in Australia’s history, as a movement toward a more inclusive future for our First Nations peoples.

It is now our turn, our responsibility and our time to create change for Australia’s First Nations peoples. All Queenslanders — all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples — must share in the state’s prosperity.

The Queensland Government is continuing to investigate ways to rethink and reinvigorate approaches to Closing the Gap across priority areas including health, employment and economic participation. Now is an opportunity for all Queenslanders to advance past and current sentiment for a united and cohesive state and nation.

Queensland Reconciliation Awards 2017 

The 2017 Queensland Reconciliation Awards were held in Cairns on Thursday 1 July, to celebrate community organisations, educational institutions and initiatives taking positives step towards reconciliation.

Each year, more and more Queensland businesses, community organisations and individuals are committing to reconciliation and to building brighter, more inclusive futures for all Queenslanders.

Congratulations to all finalists and the 2017 Queensland Reconciliation Awards winners:

Business category proudly supported by the Koori Mail
The Woodward Family CaPTA Group

Community category proudly supported by ABC Brisbane and Queensland
Cairns Hockey Association for Aspire to be Deadly

Education category proudly supported by BHP Billiton
North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre for North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre and Woppaburra Traditional Owners

Partnership category proudly supported by the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair and Ports North for Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Premier’s Reconciliation Award
Puuya Foundation for Developing Everyday Leaders—The Puuya Foundation and Lockhart River Aboriginal Community

Closing the Gap

Education, health, jobs and economic participation are important for all Australians, which is why Closing the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Queenslanders remains a priority.

This year, several Queensland Government initiatives have been actioned to support improved health, life and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders, including:

  • Queensland’s first Indigenous community-focused Cabinet meeting
  • a Closing the Gap policy roundtable with Indigenous Mayors focussed on reinvigorating approaches towards Closing the Gap on disadvantage
  • the launch of Our Way, a new strategy to improve the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, including addressing their over-representation in the child protection system
  • the Bromley land handback to return 160,730 hectares to the Wuthathi, Kuuku Ya’u and Northern Kaanju people.

Reconciliation is key to ensuring a fair, inclusive and cohesive state for all Queenslanders.

Ongoing Queensland Government initiatives include the:

Child protection strategy and first action plan launched

On Tuesday 30 May, the Queensland Government launched Our Way, a new strategy to improve the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Minister for Child Safety Shannon Fentiman said the $152.8 million investment is the first instalment in a 20 year program to end the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care. The minister said “we want to deliver genuine, collaborative support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents to ensure children grow up safe and cared for surrounded by family, community and culture”.

In partnership with Family Matters — a national campaign led by more than 150 Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous organisations around Australia — the government also announced Changing Tracks, the first of a series of action plans which make up the 20-year Our Way strategy.

Key programs in the first action plan include:

  • $150 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Wellbeing Services
  • $6 million for the Empowering Families Innovation Fund, comprising of $1.5 million for the First 1000 Days Australia program with Melbourne University
  • establishing the Queensland First Children and Families Board to guide the Our Way strategy and its implementation
  • maximising kinship placements for children in out-of-home care.

Minister Fentiman also announced that applications were now open for the Empowering Families Innovation Grants, a new program designed to ignite radical new ideas that will strengthen families, support reunification and encourage greater stability and permanency for children in care.

“Let’s get Queenslanders involved in putting forward ideas to help deal with the complex disadvantage that affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland,” she said.

“Funding of up to $100,000 is now available under the Empowering Families Innovation Grants to provoke ideas from people who are bold, radical and disruptive in their thinking.

For more information visit the Our Way website.

Mayors make pledge in Cairns to end domestic and family violence

The mayors of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils.


On Friday 19 May, Indigenous leaders met in Cairns with Minister Mark Furner to reinvigorate community strategies for Closing the Gap on disadvantage. Fifteen Indigenous Mayors have pledged their commitment to ending domestic and family violence.

Mr Furner said in addition to a pledge to stamp out domestic violence, the mayors were also united in their desire to improve the wellbeing of their communities by taking steps to reduce smoking rates and the consumption of unhealthy foods.

Palm Island Mayor Alf Lacey said today’s roundtable discussion had facilitated genuine discussion on desired community outcomes, also stating “Today is another good example of local leaders leading local solutions for the benefit of their communities.”

Mayors' Pledge

I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men's violence against women.
This is my oath.

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