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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7731


Ms O'TOOLE (Herbert) (13:54): On Friday night I attended the Townsville NAIDOC dinner, which was an exceptional cultural experience. The Wulgurukaba and Bindal traditional owners and custodians welcomed all of those who were there to celebrate 'Because of her, we can!' The Wulgurukaba Walkabout Dancers and Komet Torres Strait Island Art and Culture group's performances were outstanding. The highlight of the evening for me was the speech made by the guest speaker, Rothana. She is an education counsellor at Townsville State High School.

Her story is one of inspiration and hope. Her life has been hard, sad and one of commitment to her family and community. She is a proud Aboriginal and Netherlands woman. Her life and her family's life on Palm Island under the protection act was nothing short of shocking. I was completely in awe while she spoke. With the silence in the room you could hear a pin drop. The respect that she commanded from the audience was second to none. Topsy Tapham also spoke. She is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman. She spoke of her life and the women in her life that have supported her. She has formed a women's group for Indigenous women seeking to build their dreams and hopes. Women like Professor Gracelyn Smallwood and Dorothy Savage are great role models for local First Nations women in my community. Their stories need to be heard, and I congratulate the Townsville NAIDOC committee on an absolutely inspirational evening.