Speech: NAIDOC Week 2006, Official Launch Of Art Exhibition - 'Gelam Nguzu Kazi - Dugong My Son', Forecourt, R G Casey Building

by Acting Secretary, Mr David Spencer - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

3 July 2006

Excellencies, distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal peoples - the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand today.

On behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, I welcome you to this flag-raising ceremony to celebrate NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week 2006.

The national theme for this year's NAIDOC Week is "Respect the Past - Believe in the Future". 

NAIDOC Week provides a special opportunity each year for Indigenous Australians to promote their history and culture.

It is also an opportunity for non-Indigenous Australians to learn about, reflect upon and acknowledge the unique contribution of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

We have a proud tradition in the department of commemorating NAIDOC Week.

In our Australian offices and at our overseas posts we have activities which highlight the contribution of Australia's Indigenous peoples to contemporary Australia.

We have an engaging NAIDOC Week program in Canberra. 

NAIDOC WEEK - AUSTRALIA'S OVERSEAS POSTS

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags will be flown or displayed at offices throughout DFAT's global network during NAIDOC Week. 

Australian Government delegations and missions overseas are actively promoting Indigenous Australian achievements, art and culture through a range of activities and events.  

DFAT'S ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PROGRAM

The department also has an active Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program in the Images of Australia Branch.  This program is part of DFAT's mission to project internationally a positive and accurate image of Australia's multicultural society.

INDIGENOUS EMPLOYEES IN DFAT

DFAT also has talented Indigenous employees representing and promoting Australian interests in Australia and overseas.

In 2004 the department re-convened the Indigenous Task Force and launched its Indigenous Recruitment and Career Development Strategy 2004-07.  The strategy aims to ensure that DFAT continues to attract talented Indigenous Australians and to increase the number of Indigenous Australians employed in the department through the Indigenous cadetship and graduate recruitment programs, and lateral recruitment.

In the past five years, seventeen Indigenous Australians have joined DFAT as part of our graduate trainee and Indigenous cadetship programs. 

We currently have 37 Indigenous employees working with DFAT.  Ten of our Indigenous staff are representing Australia overseas. 

I thank the department's Indigenous employees for their contribution to so many areas of our work.

I also thank most warmly those members of the department's Indigenous Employees Network who have organised this year's NAIDOC Week activities.

I encourage you to take part in all the department's NAIDOC Week events and, in so doing, help celebrate the vibrancy and enduring influence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures.

Thank you.