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
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
- 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
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
- 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.