DFAT NAIDOC Week 2003 Flag Raising Ceremony

Speech

Speaker: Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dr Ashton Calvert, at the NAIDOC Week 2003 - Official Flag Raising Ceremony

Forecourt, R.G. Casey Building

7 July 2003

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 Week 2003.

The national theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week is "Our Children, Our Future".  The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) has noted that the theme highlights for all Australians the importance of ensuring our indigenous children have “the right to life, to good health, to protection, to education, and to an adequate standard of living.”

NAIDOC Week provides a special opportunity each year for indigenous Australians to promote their history and culture, as well as 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 this department, both at our offices in Australia and at our overseas posts, of holding a week of activities which pay special tribute to the contribution of Australia's indigenous peoples to contemporary Australia.

I am delighted to say that again this year, we have a most interesting and enjoyable NAIDOC Week program in Canberra.  The program includes:

  • the launch today of the photographic exhibition, ‘Kickin’up Dust: Contemporary Festivals of Indigenous Australia
  • performancesby Gerib Sik, an indigenous dance group from the Torres Strait Islands
  • the department’s popular NAIDOC Week Trivia Quiz on Wednesday evening, with money raised to be donated to indigenous charities
  • and a showing of the new film series ‘Dreaming in Motion’, produced by the Australian Film Commission.

Our overseas posts will be flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.  Some posts will be presenting Aboriginal art exhibitions or conducting other activities to mark NAIDOC Week:

  • in Jakarta, there will be a display of indigenous art and NAIDOC Week material in the Chancery’s foyer;
  • in Tokyo, activities include a screening of two AFC short films by new indigenous film makers;
  • in New Delhi, the High Commissioner will host a reception to mark NAIDOC Week; there will also be didgeridoo performances and workshops for schools, given by Indian musicians who have trained with Australian performers.

It is part of DFAT's mission to project internationally a positive and accurate image of Australia's rich multicultural society –including, of course, our indigenous peoples and their culture. 

Over the past year, the department has continued its active Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program in the Images of Australia Branch.  The program recently organized the People in a Landscape exhibition, featuring works by 20 indigenous and non-indigenous artists, shown in more than 17 countries in South East Asia, South America, Europe and the Pacific. 

  • In St Petersburg, People in a Landscape was featured as an official part of the city’s 300th anniversary celebrations. 
  • In Turkey the exhibition formed part of the of the Australian Embassy’s ANZAC Day program.

DFAT is fortunate in having many talented indigenous employees representing and promoting Australian interests, both here and abroad.

In the past two years, six indigenous Australians have joined DFAT as part of our graduate trainee schemes or our indigenous cadetship program.  This brings to 31 the number of indigenous colleagues now working for the department.  Seven of our indigenous staff are currently representing Australia overseas.  We hope to have similar success in the coming years in attracting and retaining more indigenous employees.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank all the department’s indigenous colleagues for their contribution to so many areas of our work, and for the richness they bring to the culture of our workplace.  I should also like to thank most warmly those members of the department’s Indigenous Employees Network who have helped organise this year’s NAIDOC week activities.

Following this flag-raising ceremony, I will have the pleasure of launching the photographic exhibition, ‘Kickin’up Dust’, in the RG Casey Atrium.

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 our indigenous people and cultures.

I now have pleasure in calling on Pallas Masina from Broome to raise the Aboriginal flag, and Leo Akee, from Thursday Island, to raise the Torres Strait Islander flag.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 19 September 2014