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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 13999


Mr VAN MANEN (FordeGovernment Whip) (17:12): I would like to thank the member from Lingiari for his comments. I had the pleasure when we served on the Indigenous affairs committee to spend some time in his electorate and to visit some of his communities. Before I was in this place, I used to have some business clients in Alice Springs, so I spent a bit of time in Alice Springs as well. I'd like to take this opportunity, first and foremost, to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land here in Canberra, the Ngunawal, but also to recognise the traditional owners of the country that I represent—the Yugambeh people and the Yugara people.

I think it's interesting to reflect on the comments from the member for Lingiari. I made the note in response to his comments that, to progress, we must be eternally vigilant. I think sometimes we let things slip over time. We think that we've put things in place and we think that they will continue to work the way we always envisioned they would work. But gradually, over time, that falls away and people lose focus and we see these good intentions fall by the wayside and we end up not achieving the outcomes that we sought with the best intentions from the outset. I think this Closing the Gap report highlights that very starkly. I think, in that context, it's appropriate that the Prime Minister has used the term 'refresh' and that we refresh those goals and objectives of what we want to achieve.

But the key part of that is that we involve the Indigenous community in that process. I think that's what the member for Lingiari touched on particularly well. It's interesting—I took the opportunity to go back and have a look at some of the history of the relationship between the settlers in the 1800s and the Indigenous community in Logan at the time. Based on the information that I was able to obtain through the Logan City Council website, it appears to me that there was an enormous amount of interaction between the then settlers and the Indigenous community. We have, I'm pleased to say, no records in what is modern-day Logan City of any major issues of conflict or other things that we know happened around the country that were very detrimental to our Indigenous communities. In fact, the writings of botanist Charles Fraser in 1828 document the quality of the workmanship of the local Indigenous communities in their fish traps and kangaroo nets that they used to catch wildlife to feed themselves and how the settlers relied on the ingenuity of the Indigenous community to survive those first few years. We have a number of stories of our local families when they first settled and how they relied on the help of the Indigenous community to survive a couple of very difficult summers. So it's not that we haven't been able to do this in the past; we actually have. I think it's one of the great failings today in our society that we seem to disregard our history and we fail to learn from what worked in our history.

But I also want to use this opportunity to speak about the terrific work that is being done in my electorate by our local Indigenous community. When we have a look at the work that is being done by the Yugambeh Museum to preserve the Yugambeh language and other associated language groups and to preserve the broader cultural history of the Yugambeh language group, which stretches all the way down to the border at Tweed Heads and out to the Bay Islands as well, and at what is being done using modern technology to spread that message, we see also that the result is that a number of our schools, particularly a couple of our state primary schools, Waterford West State School and Eagleby South State School, actually have programs within their language-other-than-English classes to learn the local Yugambeh language, which I think is absolutely tremendous. They're creating a platform for Indigenous storytelling with traditional and contemporary didgeridoo compositions, including didgeridoo lessons and collaborative performance opportunities.

I also know that the show at the Beenleigh Historical Village called Spirits of the Red Sand is about showing the story of our Indigenous community throughout history up until the modern day.

When you look at some of the great elders in our Indigenous community, who do so much work with the youth and the younger generations to ensure that that cultural history is retained and taught to the next generation, they are people like Aunty Robyn Williams, Patricia O'Connor and Rory O'Connor. They do so much work to ensure that the culture, beliefs, values and language of the Yugambeh community are continued.

I'd also like to take the opportunity to mention Will Davis, who's the CEO of the Beenleigh Housing Development Company, and also Peter Eather, who is very involved there as well, for the work that they are doing to put together an Indigenous housing project out near Jimboomba to create a community. Part of the importance of that community is that it is focused on creating the opportunity for our Indigenous community to buy and own their own property and creating the economic opportunity for them to do so.

We know from the Closing the gap report and its focus on education how important that is. I've already touched on that as to a couple of our schools, but Upper Coomera State College and their Indigenous champions program and Beenleigh State High School's Indigenous mentoring experience program are also critically important to that.

In the urban setting, which we don't always talk about as much for our Indigenous community, there is much that is occurring. I'm pleased to say that, in a number of those spaces, we, as a government, have provided significant funding to organisations. We've provided over $200,000 to the Kombumerri Aboriginal Corporation for Culture, to facilitate those Indigenous language and arts programs. We've provided over $300,000 to the Beenleigh Housing Development Company, to keep them operating, and we are working, through the minister's office, at the moment, on their Indigenous housing project.

I'd also like to touch on the terrific work that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service does with their Jimbelunga nursing home at Eagleby. In particular, I'd like to mention Jody Currie as well as Belinda Davis for their hard work and dedication to providing culturally appropriate aged care for our ageing Indigenous community members. Importantly—and I think this is one of the great values of Jimbelunga—it's not only about providing aged care for our Indigenous community; it is creating a bridge for an older generation of people with a European background who are also residing in that facility. It creates the opportunity for those people, even at an advanced age in life, to build relationships with and better understand our Indigenous history and culture. I think that is critically important.

I want to use this opportunity to thank all of those people in my local community who ensure that our Indigenous culture and heritage is celebrated but also that it is continued forward for future generations.