History has been made in Queensland with the very first meeting of the newly-formed Parliamentary Friends of First Nations People.
The non-partisan group was formed as a place to hold important and truthful conversations as everyone – no matter which side of politics they are from – can and should work together towards reconciliation and a prosperous future for all.
The group is co-chaired by:
- Minister for Communities and Housing, Member for Algester and proud Quandamooka woman Leeanne Enoch
- Member for Cook and proud Kulkalgal woman from the Torres Strait Cynthia Lui
- Member for Bundamba and Gubbi Gubbi man Lance McCallum
- Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford
- Member for Southport Rob Molhoek
- Member for Noosa Sandy Bolton
The group held its first meeting on Tuesday night and Ms Enoch said it would provide a safe place for everyone to work together.
“Queensland is home to two of the world’s longest continuous living cultures in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples,” Ms Enoch said.
“Parliamentary Friends of First Nations People will provide a safe, respectful space to explore Queensland’s collective past, gather knowledge to help understand the future.”
This is the first time a group like this has been formed in Queensland and it is among one of the first in Australia.
Only one other state – New South Wales – has a similar Parliamentary group.
“For more than 150 years the Queensland Parliament has determined legislation that has impacted First Nations Peoples in ways that have not always been positive – much of which has led to inter-generational trauma that is still being felt today,” Ms Enoch said.
“As governments across the nation work to Close the Gap, and Queensland begins our Path to Treaty, it’s more important than ever to foster constructive, non-partisan conversations across Parliament and seek common ground based on a shared understanding.”
Ms Lui said for the first time in history, Queensland had three First Nations people hold seats in the Queensland Parliament at the same time.
“We’ve come a long way, but there is still more work to do, and this is what the Parliamentary Friends of First Nations People will achieve,” Ms Lui said.
“We will put politics aside to help work towards a more inclusive and shared future.”
Mr McCallum said being inclusive was at the core of what the group was about.
“As a state we should always strive to choose acceptance, collectiveness and unity over fear and division,” Mr McCallum said.
“This group will ensure we, as elected Members of the Queensland Parliament, can lead the state and have open and honest conversations as we move towards reconciliation.”
Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to a new way of working together with First Nations Queenslanders through a reframed relationship that delivered meaningful outcomes through a genuine partnership approach.
“This is about including all Queenslanders in a process that allows us to come together, to listen to each other’s experiences, and to understand what that has meant for us personally and as a community," Mr Crawford said.
“The July 2019 Statement of Commitment anchors the Palaszczuk Government’s determination to reframe the relationship with Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people.
“As we continue our Path to Treaty, we recently appointed the Treaty Advancement Committee.
“Co-chairs Dr Jackie Huggins AM and Mr Mick Gooda are joined by committee members Emeritus Professor Michael Lavarch AO, Dr Josephine Bourne and Ms Sallyanne Atkinson AO.
“We have also committed to a truth-telling and healing process.
“We shouldn’t underestimate how important the truth telling part of this journey will be to healing the wounds that have accrued over 250 years of recent history.”