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Official opening of Korin Gamadji Institute, Melbourne



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PRIME MINISTER

OFFICIAL OPENING OF KORIN GAMADJI INSTITUTE MELBOURNE 12 AUGUST 2012

E & OE - PROOF ONLY

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS OMITTED

I don’t need to tell anyone associated with Richmond Football Club that reconciliation is not something done by committees or bureaucrats.

It is something that must cascade through every level of Australian life:

From the way we speak and interact, to the way we treat each other on the field of play.

The way we share the land, right through to the words of our constitution itself.

But one of the most visible manifestations of a more reconciled nation is the increasing presence of indigenous players on our sporting fields.

It is a form of reconciliation that needs no explanation.

Indigenous and non-indigenous players, working as a team together for victory, tell a powerful story without the need for words.

The footy field is a place where colour does not count, only skill and character.

It’s something the AFL has recognised for a long time and I pay tribute to their leadership today.

Of course, the sporting field is not the place where everyone can find their destiny.

But the classroom is.

It’s the transformative power of education I’ve spoken so often about.

The power of education to open up new horizons and new opportunities.

And if we are to become a more reconciled nation, that is where much of the work needs to be done.

So when the Richmond Football Club came to me as Education Minister with the idea for an indigenous leadership and training institute co-located with the club, it had my sharp attention.

It was not long after the apology, and people were keen to capture the opportunity of that truly historic moment.

Four years, almost $20 million and a lot of hard work along the way, it’s done.

The Institute is here, it’s functioning, and today it’s my very great privilege to see this journey through to its formal completion.

And I’m here today to do the formal launch in high spirits and with great optimism.

I often say that while Australia has done great things in the past, even better days lie ahead.

Here in this Institute, you can feel it. Hope echoes from every wall.

From this special place, young indigenous people will indeed grow and emerge.

Confident leaders; proud of their heritage and equipped with the skills and knowledge to make a difference in their own lives, in the lives of the Indigenous community and in the fortunes of our wider society.

It’s also a confirmation that the work of reconciliation isn’t just accomplished in the big gestures.

Yes, the apology, Mabo and constitutional recognition have their place.

They are the great moments that heal and unite.

But equally important is the Aboriginal or Islander kid who learns to read and write.

Who gets that training certificate or university degree.

Who walks into that classroom for their first day as a new teacher.

These are little victories that make the big victory possible.

And so many of them are going to be won right here where we are standing

Here in this place of hope and possibility - the Korin Gamadji Institute - which proudly I declare officially open and wish every success for the Institute’s future.

Thank you very much.