Queensland Reconciliation Awards 2023

Recognising and celebrating inspiring initiatives for dedication and unwavering commitment to reconciliation in Queensland.

The 2023 Queensland Reconciliation Awards finalists have been announced. The Queensland Reconciliation Awards continues to recognise the many inspiring collaborations and projects advancing reconciliation through businesses, community organisations, educational institutions and government agencies. These finalists are going above and beyond their core business to foster reconciliation and pave the way for a better future.

Award recipients will be announced at a ceremony during National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June 2023) and will receive a share of $30,000 in prize money.

2023 finalists


AMS Group and Minjerribah-Moorgumpin Elders-in-Council designed a reconciliation initiative to employ 40 young people throughout the waterways of Moreton Bay and around the coast of Australia to maintain lighthouses, navigation aids, protect ports and shipping lanes and support Australia’s search and rescue operations.

Employees of this initiative are provided with a range of benefits including subsidised housing, non-financial welfare support to ensure their success – both personally and professionally. The initiative includes a dedicated nine-week induction program, with continuous support to mentor the employees as they navigate their way through accredited training regimes away from their traditional support base. The new challenges of learning, working and being away from home are empowering for all participants.

The first group of Quandamooka employees commenced this initiative in June 2022 and have now completed their national maritime accreditations, with some already promoted into leadership roles. AMS Group is excited to build upon their initiative, “a beacon of reconciliation”, by creating opportunities to employ young Quandamooka ladies in 2023 and 2024.

weavr. is a world first diversity management system focused on managing diversity, Indigenous engagement and reconciliation. Proudly created by Australia's leading Indigenous software company – LOGiT with support from CSIRO, Advance Queensland’s Deadly Innovation Strategy, and MEGT.

weavr. is the first Indigenous developed software designed to capture, track, manage and bring to life the reconciliation journey. The system has been designed to help organisations create, manage and harness the implementation of their strategy to achieve desired outcomes.

It has helped staff understand the impact of individual and organisational level reconciliation; increase transparency across organisations; improve engagement of staff in reconciliation activities; and enables users to see data and progress in real time.

Community Enterprise Queensland’s (CEQ) core business is to provide essential goods and services to remote Indigenous communities in Far North Queensland. CEQ operates 28 outlets in the Torres Strait, Northern Peninsula Area and remote Aboriginal communities.

The CEQ Management Development Model is an initiative providing an educational process whereby a culturally supportive network of mentors and trainers provide the tools and training to ensure aspiring Indigenous supervisors and managers have the confidence to perform management roles.

To date 16 of the 28 CEQ stores located in remote locations of Far North Queensland are currently being managed and totally operated by Indigenous team members, with arrangements currently underway for other remote agencies to have access to development opportunities to be delivered by the training team in remote communities.

One Business is an initiative of the Queensland Government to support leading Indigenous businesses to teach and train other Indigenous businesses across Queensland. Iscariot Media were awarded the project through a competitive tender, taking the initial concept and creating a legacy of business knowledge sharing.

Iscariot's approach was to build and share knowledge with the community through a train-the-trainer program. This ensured a local Indigenous person was trained and supported to deliver business building services, with their knowledge and expertise supporting their local community, long after the project had finished.

Since its launch in 2020, the One Business Program has supported more than 250 First Nation businesses, creating more pathways for increased participation in Queensland’s economy.


The Boss Boxing Community Warriors is a First Nations led initiative in the Zillmere community, to get youth off the street and into the gym, where they're positively mentored and taught respect and discipline. The initiative fosters the spirit of reconciliation by providing mentoring to both non-Indigenous and First Nations youth, promoting racial harmony and unity.

The Boss Boxing program is open to people of all races, religion, and creed. They aim to give people of non-Indigenous background the opportunity to meet and engage with First Nations people, helping dispel negative stereotypes, overcome biases and change preconceptions.

The initiative goes beyond the normal core business of a boxing gym by catering for disadvantaged youth who might otherwise become directionless. Their programs have resulted in a decrease in recidivism, improved participant mental health, and positive employment and academic outcomes.

Pumicestone Indigenous Education and Employment Council (PIEEC) is a grassroots, Indigenous led not-for-profit organisation, positively impacting on reconciliation in the Pumicestone region.

PIEEC empowers Indigenous families by supporting and helping them to tap into the wider resources available for improving their own self-determined futures. Constructive collaboration with local partners ensures the development of sustainable and resilient solutions for the community.

They focus on education, employment, cultural awareness training and enrichment activities. Council members provide culturally relevant advice and advocacy across the local area. The council’s active membership includes Indigenous Elders, parents, carers, kinship families, jarjums and supportive community members, who value and invest in local relationships to build a stronger and more inclusive Pumicestone community.

The Milbi Festival Message Stick and Welcome Home Elders programs were initiated by Bundaberg Regional Council in 2021 in partnership with the Port Curtis Coral Coast Trust, Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers and Gidarjil Development Corporation Land and Sea Rangers.

Fostered through the Arts, Culture, Tourism Facilities and Events Branch of Council, the initiative is designed to recognise and support First Nations People and support programming with a focus on First Nation voices, creators, and stories.

The Milbi Festival begins with the message-stick traveling from smoking ceremony to smoking ceremony, from Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers to Gidarjil Land and Sea Rangers, thus source to sea, a symbolic and contemporary journey which represents the songlines or pathways of Aboriginal people for countless generations. As they celebrate the return of the turtles to traditional homelands, so too they invite the Stolen Generations of peoples forcibly removed from the tribal homelands of Bundaberg, in the spirit of reconciliation and respect.

The Garbutt Magpies is a sporting and cultural club based on traditional First Nations practices and philosophies to guide reconciliation. They create and extend traditional song and storylines in the contemporary world through positive sporting and cultural activities.

Through the Garbutt Magpies School Cup, North Queensland First Nations Cricket Carnival, cultural camps, community participation in NAIDOC Day and Mabo Day, the organisation has increased participation in Reconciliation Action Plans with local businesses and community organisations.

The Garbutt Magpies create an identity of positive experiences based on the Kukatja saying “Mariakarti nyawa, kurranyu nyinama” - “Look back if you want to go forward”. The organisation is intergenerational and proactive in the reconciliation process, and has successfully built a community sporting club that encompasses traditional practices and cultural education.


In 2022, Bellbird Park State Secondary College established its first Reconciliation Committee. A diverse team of teaching and support staff committed to promoting opportunities to achieve reconciliation through equity and unity. The college’s Reconciliation Action Plan continuously guides the review of whole college systems and processes, ensuring equitable access and success for First Nations students.

Bellbird Park State Secondary College’s reconciliation journey has led to the establishment of the culturally safe Culture Hub, Yakka Study Centre, Yarning Circle, Community Bush Tucker Garden and the launch of a First Nations Dance Troupe, connecting students to culture through dance.

In 2022, The Yakka Study Centre successfully supported all First Nations students to achieve their Queensland Certificate of Education. Bellbird Park State Secondary College actively links with community to work towards healing and a bright future for children in the area.

The life of an inspiring Wakka Wakka woman, Janet Daisy, will be influencing early childhood educators and their students for generations to come thanks to an authentic and thought-provoking core study unit developed by TAFE Queensland.

Early Childhood Education and Care students are encouraged to immerse themselves in Janet’s story, to develop an understanding of how her experience affected her opinions and behaviours. The curriculum in the core unit aims to encourage understanding of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples' cultures and is designed to trigger a response of cultural understanding and acceptance.

TAFE Queensland students began enrolling in the new core unit in mid-2022, with both educators and students expressing gratitude for the genuine and personal content. The initiative is also being rolled out into other TAFE Queensland programs, with hundreds of students expected to enrol in the unit each year.

In 2021, after significant planning, St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School launched a formal Reconciliation Action Plan providing a framework to drive important change in the classroom, around the school, and within the community, based around relationships, respect and opportunities.

Along with expanded celebrations of larger national events and significant days – such as National Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC Week, Sorry Day and Mabo Day – the school has shaped its own form of reconciliation through initiatives such as First Nation themed prayer spaces, specific boarding house activities, and the publication of two significant anthologies “Ghidal” and “Mulu Maguydan”, authored by the school’s First Nations students.

The researching and writing process of the anthologies uncovered many stories that empowered First Nations students and allowed them a greater voice to share their stories across the school community. Through the school’s Reconciliation Action Plan, and the publication of the anthologies, the culture and identity of the First Nations students is being nurtured and affirmed within the school community.

Sunshine Beach State High School continues to support a First Nations connections program initiated and run by teachers and local Elders. Through connections with the Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi Elders of the region, teachers aim to organise cultural activities to engage students at all levels, with the song lines of the country, fostering an understanding of the local culture and respect of the land.

Kabi Kabi Elder, Uncle Ken Jones has been integral to the success of the program as he has been discussing with the students the upkeep of the area surrounding the school and engaging with students on understanding the importance of the land, as well as creating initiatives with land-upkeep.

Students have also worked with Uncle Tais K’Reala Randanpi to build a yarning circle in the school grounds and participated in traditional games and creation of their own artwork.

This connections program contributes to protection of the environment and enhances the heritage for future generations. It has enabled the school community to have a greater understanding of the environment and of the history of the area.

Health and wellbeing

Heart of Australia delivers medical specialists and their equipment to rural and remote communities giving Australians an equal chance at a long and healthy life. They work with local Indigenous healthcare services to deliver quality healthcare that complement services already available in the local area.

This program aims to address the significant health inequities that Australians in rural and remote communities face when accessing healthcare. Since launching in 2014, they have seen more than 15,000 patients across 43 communities.

Heart of Australia is constantly improving and evolving the services they offer, working with government and local health organisations to assess the need, and continuously develop the program to suit the needs of the community.

Yabbabah Men's Group is a community lead initiative. Their aim is to encourage peer mentorship of First Nations people, build trusting relationships between Gold Coast Health service and First Nations people, increase health literacy of First Nations people, reduce barriers and improve access to health care.

This group is a new initiative and is held monthly. Each month a representative from a different health service will discuss how they care for the community and what they can offer to the group.

The Gold Coast Health Alcohol and other Drugs team have recently presented to the group and have a male representative present at every meeting to help build a trusting relationship and learn how they can invite people to come for care and treatment in a holistic and friendly way.

The initiative aims to provide culturally competent care through relationships first and support reconciliation through building relationships between health services and First Nations people.

One of the North West Remote Health’s (NWRH) reconciliation strategies is to support the Garbutt Magpies "Boys to Men" Cup in Townsville which has aligned with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day.

The eighth Garbutt Magpies “Boys to Men” Cup saw more than 350 students from 21 schools from Townsville and surrounding districts compete in AFL on National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.

To mark the national culturally significant calendar event, NWRH engaged their Speech Pathologist Clinicians to capture cultural activities and interactions between Garbutt Magpies elders and students to compile a children’s book to help commemorate and celebrate the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.

The development of this children’s book will be utilised to promote unity and recognition for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as well as encourage children in these communities to become future role models.

Waijungbah Jarjums, which means ‘place of mother and children’ in traditional Yugambeh language, is a community service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families on the Gold Coast to receive continuity of care from pregnancy through to childhood.

The first of its kind in Australia, the service combines both the Birthing on Country project and the First 1,000 Days Australia principles, founded on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing.

Waijungbah Jarjums was developed in partnership with Kalwun Health Services and the Yugambeh Region Aboriginal Corporation Alliance to build a service that meets the needs of the local community. Governance sits with the Waijungbah Jarjums Consumer Advisory Group that continue to develop the model of care to best suit the community’s wants and needs.

All Waijungbah Jarjums permanent staff identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and bring their lived experiences to help families explore ancestral cultural birthing and parenting knowledge. The service works on closing the gap and providing education to all regarding race relations in a culturally safe environment.


The Darumbal Trainee Ranger and mentoring program is a partnership between the Department of Defence, Darumbal Enterprises, Downer Defence, Ecosure and CQUniversity. Together, they have initiated a program to build capability and employ eight Darumbal Trainee Rangers to work on Country at Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Central Queensland – one of the Australian Defence Force’s prime training areas.

The program is designed to provide training and opportunities for young Darumbal people as the Traditional Custodians of the land, by integrating traditional and cultural knowledge sharing by Darumbal Elders to focus on caring for Country.

All Darumbal Trainee Rangers achieved their Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management, with a graduation ceremony on Country alongside Elders and family. The young men have subsequently found employment with partner organisations and other Darumbal partner businesses in the region.

Queensland State Archives’ (QSA) First Wars project is the foundation of QSA’s journey to be an archive that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination and embraces First Nations’ worldviews, knowledge and culture.

This project represents the first large scale research project to find archival records to illustrate the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Australian Wars: Evidence from Queensland’s panel event coincided with the release of Blackfella Films ‘The Australian Wars’ on SBS in September and October 2022.

The panel event exposed Queensland’s dark history and used archival records to share that history to audiences nationwide, inserting the topic into the national conversation about truth-telling. For QSA, this project is a foundational step to further raise public awareness, inform and develop shared understandings of First Nations cultures, histories, languages and traditions for all Queenslanders.

Othello is a fusion of two powerful artistic cultures – Shakespeare and Wagadagam. It is a tri-lingual production (Kala Lagaw Ya, Yumpla Tok and English) re-imagined by Jimi Bani and Jason Klarwein. Set between Cairns and the Torres Strait, Othello illuminates the vital role of the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion during World War II as they successfully protected the northern tip of Australia.

The production increased knowledge of Torres Strait Islander language, song and dance, and showcased the work of outstanding Torres Strait Islander artists. Othello premiered at Bulmba-Ja in partnership with the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, followed by a successful season at the Bille Brown Theatre as part of Brisbane Festival. The show was seen by more than 8,000 people and received widespread publicity and critical acclaim.

This partnership was assisted by the Australian Government through the Indigenous Languages and Arts Program, with community engagement supported by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.

In Wakka Wakka Country in the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg, the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council, in partnership with Fujitsu Australia, the Queensland Department of Innovation, Tourism and Sport, TAFE Queensland, and the Cherbourg community developed and opened a First Nations Service Centre to support the community’s digital transformation.

The centre is part of a three-year program to boost economic development through digital skills training and local long-term employment opportunities. This is a place-based inclusion model, which maps a new way forward to how corporate Australia can work in collaboration with First Nations communities to foster reconciliation and create social impact through digital inclusion.

This partnership has created a local, sustainable industry that contributes to the economy of the community and to long-term reconciliation by bridging the significant digital divide. It has created local digital jobs, career pathways and long-term career opportunities.

Premier’s Reconciliation Award

An overall Premier’s Reconciliation Award will be awarded to a nominated initiative that demonstrates innovative strategies and exceptional outcomes towards advancing reconciliation in Queensland.

Path to Treaty

On 16 August 2022, First Nations people, non-Indigenous Queenslanders, and the Queensland Government participated in the signing of Queensland’s Path to Treaty Commitment. This is a critical step in setting the foundation for a new and just relationship—one that acknowledges the injustices experienced by Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and provides a platform for truth-telling, equality, and opportunity.

The 2023 Queensland Reconciliation Awards coincides with the government’s focus on Path to Treaty and welcomes the opportunity to increase cross-cultural awareness.

The Queensland Reconciliation Awards is an initiative of the Queensland Government through the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and the Department of Treaty, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Communities and the Arts.