Galang Nunu, G'day, my name is Wil Ivinson. I'm the director of employee experience in the Department of Transport and Main Roads. I'm a Wakka Wakka man on my mother's side from Gander, on my father's side I'm Murinh Patha from Northern Territory, with also ties to the Torres Strait through Erub Island. I've been asked by the cross agency NAIDOC working group to speak today about what would ordinarily be our time to shine - NAIDOC. But before I begin talking about that I'd just like to acknowledge the elders past and present and pay my respect to the spirits of the land and water, wherever you may be watching this from. For me, I'm here in Miguntyun, better known as Brisbane. I pay my respects to the Yuggera, Ugerapul and Toorabul peoples and all the family groups who identify as First Nations as part of the broader Brisbane Valley region. I live, work and play on the country of your ancestors, and I humbly thank you for allowing me to do that.
Let me tell you a little story. Couple of years ago, a group of committed public servants decided that the Queensland government could do better when it comes to celebrating NAIDOC and our First Nations people. These weren't senior executives or CEOs of organizations, these were everyday regular public servants who simply wanted to do better. From their first working group to coordinate our NAIDOC celebrations, sharing resources, building on our investment. Celebrating First Nations peoples to ensure that we added public value to the Queensland government. This working group has continued to remain committed, building on our cross agency collaboration and supporting the community to ensure that annual events like the Musgrave Park Family Fun Day continue to happen. And it's because of this working group that we've been able to bring the flag raising event to you today. I'd like to acknowledge the representatives from the following departments: Queensland Health, Child Safety, Youth and Women, Housing and Public Works, Youth Justice Communities, Disability Services and Seniors and of course my Department Transport and Main Roads. Now, as you know, historically NAIDOC been celebrated nationally every year in early July. However, because of the current COVID-19 situation, NAIDOC has been postponed to November, the 18th to the 15th of November. These November dates followed the decision by the National NAIDOC Committee to postpone from the original July dates due to the impacts and uncertainty that COVID brought. It was aimed at protecting our elders and our young people from the disastrous impacts that COVID brings. So although we will be formally celebrating NAIDOC in November. We couldn't let July go. The cross agency working group wanted to acknowledge this week because it means so much to our mob.
July is NAIDOC and that resonates with all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In a few minutes, we're going to continue that tradition of raising the flags. And courtesy of Queensland Health, we now have two permanent flag poles to ensure that both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags fly right alongside the Australian and Queensland flags as they should. I'm proud to say that these will be for permanent fixtures in the courtyard between 111 George street and 33 Charlotte street, which is a central point from all agencies as part of the working group.
NAIDOC 2020 invites all Australians to embrace the true history of this country. A history which dates back thousands of generations. The theme this year is - Always Was Always Will Be and we're recognizing the 65,000 plus years that First Nations have been here.
We are still spiritually and culturally connected to this country. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were Australia's first explorers, first navigators, first engineers, first farmers, first botanists, first scientists, first diplomats, first astronomers and first artists.
Australia has the world's oldest oral stories. The first peoples of this Nation engraved the world's first map, made the earliest paintings, invented unique technologies. We built structures that predate well known sites like the pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge. Yet, as a nation we still see fit not to recognize this and find time to destroy these sacred sites.
Our adaptation and intimate knowledge of country has enabled us to endure climate change, catastrophic droughts and rising sea levels.
Always Was, Always Will Be, the theme for this year's NAIDOC. This acknowledges our adaptation to this country. Through ingenious land management systems like fire stick farming, which we've heard a lot about following the bushfires this year, Aboriginal peoples transformed the harshest habitable continent into a land full and rich with food and abundant supply of water, which we continue to abuse today.
NAIDOC 2020 is a chance to celebrate that our Nation's story didn't begin with the arrival of Europeans.
It didn't begin in 1770 or 1606 when the Dutch arrived on the Western Coast of Cape York Peninsula. Our coastal nations watched and interacted with at least 36 contacts made by Europeans prior to 1770. Many of them resulting in the charting of the Northern, Western and Southern coastlines of our lands and waters.
The very first footprints on this continent were those that belong to First Nations people.
Our story begins at the dawn of time. It's about seeing, hearing, learning and understanding that the First Nation 65,000 year plus history of this country is Australian history and we want all Australians to celebrate that with us. We want all Australians to be proud of having the oldest living culture in, on Earth. I want you to be a part of that.
We want you to recognize that sovereignty was never ceded. Just as we have recognized that. And in line with that theme it always was and always will be, thank you.