The Kookaburra

Issue 15 - September 2018 Posted: Wednesday 29 August 2018

Disclaimer: whilst every effort has been made to respect cultural traditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised the publication may contain names and images of people who are deceased.

Message from Director-General Dr Chris Sarra

The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships welcomed new Director-General Dr Chris Sarra on 7 August 2018. Please see below for a message from the new Director-General:

“I am truly honoured to join the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships as Director-General and I am very excited about the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.

I acknowledge and offer my heartfelt thanks to Tammy Williams for her tenacious leadership and effort during her time as Acting Director-General. Tammy has demonstrated tremendous professionalism, leadership and compassion and I am very grateful for this.

For those who don’t know me, I am a descendant of the Gurang Gurang from my grandmother’s side, and Taribelang from my grandfather’s side. My mother grew up in and around our country at our hometown of Bundaberg and so I have been privileged to grow up on the land marked for centuries by the footprints of my ancestors. My father was born in a small Italian community called Miglianico in the province of Abruzzo. This brings to me another very rich cultural layer which I love and take great pride in.

I am committed to leading our department as a proud Queenslander and as an Aboriginal man who is intimately connected to what we are trying to achieve. My work is personal to me as indeed it is personal to all of us, as it affects our own families, our communities, our people. As an Aboriginal man leading this department I say with confidence, we are committed to pursuits that will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders to move beyond surviving…to thriving!

In the interests of serving our people and our communities in the best possible way, I have challenged the department to be courageous and reflect on how we can each be at our best as individuals and with each other. In closing, I look forward to working with the community here in Brisbane, from the Torres Strait to Goondiwindi, Rockhampton to Mount Isa, and everywhere in between.”

New chapter starts for Girramay people

Earlier this month (August 2018) the ancient rights of traditional custodians of land and waters around Cardwell were formally recognised in a significant reconciliation milestone.

At a special hearing in Cardwell, the Federal Court of Australia formally recognised in law the native title rights and interests of the Girramay people.

The determination recognised exclusive native title rights and interests over approximately 1200 hectares, and non-exclusive native title rights and interests over approximately 94,700 hectares of land around Cardwell, along the coast up to Tully Heads.

Girramay Elder Abe Muriata said the determination formally recognised his people’s native title rights and interests in accordance with traditional laws and customs.

“The land and its waters have shaped our innate cultural values and have been of great significance to the Girramay people through multiple generations,” he said.

“This tribal connection hails back to the original formation of the Girramay people and recognises we are the rightful and Traditional Owners – and original custodians of this land.

“This is land on which our families have met, lived, used as a primary food source, and managed the flora and fauna.

“In modern times, we are treating this land in the same regard as our ancestors did—hunting, fishing and gathering, holding meetings and teaching younger generations about their country and the need to maintain places of importance and significance.”

Gimuy Fish Festival 2018 supports a sustainable future

The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships proudly supported the 2018 Gimuy Fish Festival held on 12 August at Fogarty Park on the Cairns Esplanade.

The festival included traditional performances by Yidinji dancers, a cooking competition between top local chefs and the event’s first kids’ cook-off.

Gimuy Walubara Yidinji Elder, Gudju Gudju Fourmile said the event was initiated by local Tribal Leaders in 2012 to raise awareness of sustainable practices, including responsible fishing and seafood harvesting.  

"Our oceans unite us. In these uncertain times of climate change, our global island and coastal communities are at risk and we want to demonstrate our commitment to addressing our waste management, our energy consumption and our consumer choice to nurture the future we want our children to live in,” Gudju Gudju Fourmile said.

“My people have been sustainably hunting and fishing in this area for tens of thousands of years.

“We have traded with many nations across these waters. Through this festival we are fishing for a better future, encouraging everyone to respect our beautiful land and waterways as we continue the legacy of our ancestors in caring for Country.”

Festival Coordinator Jenny Lynch said the event also promoted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, employment, and land and sea management.

“The dedication and support of Tribal Leaders, local businesses and the community really drives the success of this celebration of local culture, community and culinary delights,” Ms Lynch said.

“The festival unites people on important environment, employment and sustainability issues, which is especially important in North Queensland where fishing and tourism are key drivers of the local economy.

“It’s also a fun way to champion sustainability, Indigenous biocultural diversity and the natural wealth of the Great Barrier Reef.”

Thank you to the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji, Tribal Authority of Cairns and Cairns-based Indigenous business Abriculture for the opportunity to support this event which in addition to a strong environmental focus, aligns with the department’s commitment to promote the success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurship and business development.

For more information visit the Gimuy website

Queensland welcomes worldwide focus on Indigenous languages

The Queensland Government commemorated International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August 2018 with a meeting to progress a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language policy.

Queensland has more than one hundred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages but sadly, many are now considered endangered.

This is why the Queensland Government continues to work closely with Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples to develop a language policy as part of the Queensland Government Reconciliation Action Plan 2018 – 2021 (RAP).

The meeting included representatives from the Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee, First Languages Australia and a variety of Queensland Government agencies.

No matter where you live, protecting Indigenous peoples’ languages is vital in preserving culture, identity and knowledge systems. Next year, this will be a key focus during the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages.

With the nation’s second largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, Queensland plays an important worldwide role in preserving Australia’s First Nations languages.

Doomadgee parkrun

The popularity of the global parkrun phenomenon has reached Doomadgee as one of the most recent additions to the international parkrun family.

The remote community of Doomadgee has joined a community of three million parkrunners (and counting) worldwide.

The Doomadgee parkrun is off to a flying start and is already breaking records with Parkrun Australia declaring it the first parkrun in the world held in an Indigenous community and the most remote as well.

It’s fantastic to see the Doomadgee community embrace parkrun as a way of getting fit, staying healthy and having fun.

In addition, people across the country have supported the remote community by donating more than 500 pairs of shoes to help local runners and others, including the Aurukun Deadly Runners and Mornington Island Deadly Runners.

Culturally respectful servicing continues its roll out across the regions

Queensland Health has continued its efforts to be the national leader in the delivery of health services to rural and remote communities, with the South West region embracing the challenge. 

South West Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Linda Patat said that the health service was strongly committed to improving services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents and to delivering them in culturally appropriate ways.

“Progressively closing the gap in health inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents is one of our core priorities,” she said.

“We have been proactive in working towards this goal, appointing several Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Officers in recent years who provided advocacy and support for patients.

“We already have Liaison Officers in St George, Charleville and Roma who deliver outreach services to the surrounding towns.

“Just recently, we have also added Nina Jordan as a Liaison Officer at Cunnamulla Hospital and appointed Rheanna Bartley at Roma as the South West’s, first ever, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Officer Women’s Business.

“Additionally, we employ Advanced Aboriginal Health Workers in Dirranbandi, Charleville and St George, who support clinicians in the delivery of health services through community engagement and health promotion. 

“We can only improve these health outcomes through working together and continually striving to meet the specific needs of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health consumers.”


NRL Girls House construction kicks off

Construction has started on a new campus for girls and young women from remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Queensland Government has invested $12 million towards the National Rugby League (NRL) Cowboys House in Townsville.

The project will build student accommodation for up to 50 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in a boost to girls’ education and jobs in Townsville.

The campus is expected to be ready for the start of the 2019 school year and is also anticipated to support more than 80 local jobs.

The selection process is underway for the first intake of students, who will move in from January next year.

NRL Chief Executive Officer, Todd Greenberg said the rugby league community was determined to forge greater opportunities for girls and women both on and off the field.

“Our rugby league community is better for the inclusion of women and girls,” Mr Greenberg said.

“We know Queenslanders love their rugby league, and we are pleased to support such a worthy project that will support young women to reach their potential through education and quality care.”


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Information contained in The Kookaburra e-bulletin was published using information provided to the department by contributing government organisations. While every attempt was made to ensure its accuracy, the department did not accept responsibility for any errors, omissions, inaccuracies, or delays in publishing the information that was provided. The department reserved the right not to publish articles submitted via inclusion in The Kookaburra e-bulletin.