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2016 winners and finalists


Supported by BHP Billiton

Winner: Aurizon for Indigenous Reference Group

Aurizon, Australia’s largest rail freight operator and a top 50 ASX company, has a national workforce of approximately 6500 employees with 274 people, or 4.2 per cent, identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin (end of April 2016).

In July 2015, an Aurizon Indigenous Reference Group was established to provide greater strategic overview of the Indigenous Engagement and Employment Strategy, develop concrete employment outcomes and implement the Aurizon Reconciliation Action Plan. While the reference group has already undertaken a range of activities, a major success has seen the completion of an Indigenous pre-employment program, resulting in a 10-week training program for 20 Indigenous young men and women, of whom 15 have secured full-time permanent employment with Aurizon.

Highly Commended: Northside Plaza Medical Centre for Improving the health outcomes of our nation's First People through chronic disease management

Northside Plaza Medical Centre identified a need to bring a dedicated healthcare program to the Rockhampton region to substantially improve health outcomes for Indigenous patients within the community.

In collaboration with local Elders and community centres, such as Gumbi Gumbi Drug and Alcohol Awareness Rehabilitation Centre and the local Primary Healthcare Network, the medical centre consulted with registered patients and educated staff to build a healthcare environment based on cross-cultural awareness, unity and respect.

By actively engaging patients in their healthcare management through this program, the centre has significantly improved the quality of life and health of its patients.

Finalist: H.C Building and Construction for Innovative delivery of training, economic support and mentoring in remote Cape York

Since its establishment in 2007, H.C Building and Construction (HCBC) has focused on building the capability of individuals and communities in regional and remote Queensland. This self-funded and 100 per cent Indigenous owned and operated firm works closely with Indigenous suppliers, local authorities and Elders to connect with men and women who share a similar vision of building stronger communities.

HCBC takes a holistic approach to recognising and balancing the struggles of living in remote Australia by supporting team members through a variety of innovative initiatives. HCBC supports its team members to work confidently in both the community and regional centres, transforming apprentices into tradespeople and future leaders in their communities.

Finalist: Norton Rose Fulbright Australia for Reconciliation Action Plan 2014

In September 2014, Norton Rose Fulbright launched its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). As a catalyst to contribute to reconciliation in an expanded, more structured and meaningful way, the RAP is a national document actioned and applied to each office in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

Actions of the 2014 RAP include an increased pro bono contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, businesses and communities; the launch of an Indigenous cadetship program; engaging with Queensland-based Indigenous consultant Tom Kirk to deliver cultural awareness training to staff nationally; supporting the launch of Indigenous media platform, Indigistream; commissioning North Queensland based Aboriginal Steel Art to create acknowledgement sculptures for offices; and secondment of two Brisbane employees to Aboriginal organisations through partnership with Jawun.


Supported by Queensland Treasury Corporation

Winner: Yugambeh Museum Language and Heritage Research Centre for Yugambeh Museum Youth Choir

Established in 2014 by the Yugambeh Museum Language and Heritage Research Centre, the Yugambeh Museum Youth Choir is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander choir consisting of 30 youth under 25 years of age. The diverse ability of the choir includes performances of traditional and contemporary Yugambeh language pieces, narrations and dance.  The choir regularly showcases at corporate, government and community-based events with the aim to positively influence the region’s cultural landscape. Through the development and learning of initial choral pieces, choir members have bonded culturally and relationally. Choir members continue to learn Yugambeh language through songs which develops self-confidence and pride. Members have enthusiastically embraced performance opportunities, uniting to deliver memorable performances no matter how intimidating the setting.

Highly Commended: Paroo Shire Council for Glamour Photo Good Behaviour

Glamour Photo Good Behaviour is an initiative aimed at increasing NAPLAN results and building stronger family and community relationships by assisting local schools and communities to reward young individuals. Students who achieve an increase in school attendance, literacy levels, behaviour and self-esteem are invited to the community library to dress-up in immaculate evening attire and have a professional photograph taken to present to their families. The program is a whole-of-community effort. Community members, businesses and councils donate money, clothing and makeup and provide free photography and hairdressing services. Staff and volunteers assist in coordinating the program, many of whom are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This year the first Indigenous trainee will be added to the initiative. The program has resulted in greater engagement between schools, the community and the library, enhanced relationships with families and increased confidence in children to engage and participate in academic and education programs.

Finalist: Balaangala Community Group Inc.

The Balaangala Community Group Inc. consists of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people from The Gap, Brisbane, and surrounding areas, who work voluntarily to develop a learning and sharing space for individuals to learn about, experience and encourage reconciliation. The group has developed a garden space filled with native plants used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for food, craft, medicine and tools. The garden space has become a destination for community gatherings, ceremonies and workshops, as well as opportunities for sharing, listening and learning. The group also regularly organises guest speakers, film nights, shared reading, yarning circles and informal opportunities for storytelling.

The Balaangala Community Group continues to be built on the spirit and commitment of the community and aims to find creative ways to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and knowledge together.

Finalist: Garbutt Bombers Sporting and Cultural Association Inc. for Garbutt Magpies Boys into Men

Boys into Men provides the opportunity for young boys to participate in an interschool event and a weekend filled with recreational and educational activities that aims to teach the fundamental qualities necessary to reach adulthood. The Garbutt Magpies recognised how important Indigenous role models were for young boys to reduce the negative stigma and portrayed stereotypes. Through the Boys into Men program, Indigenous Elders, leaders and community members volunteer their time as role models and encourage boys to take responsibility for their own lives, to be self-directing and grasp opportunities. The role models lead by example and guide the young boys into becoming adults through a powerful cultural context, driving respect, resilience and connection to family and community.


Supported by Norton Rose Fulbright

Winner: James Cook University for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science program

In 2013 it was recognised by James Cook University that, although Indigenous Australians possess a wealth of both traditional and applied knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef, very few are currently employed within key organisations that research and manage the reef. From this, the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science (ATSIMS) program was established to bring together traditional ecological knowledge and western marine science through field-based, hands-on curriculum activities. Program activities bolster students’ interest in marine science careers and provide the skills, confidence, experience and knowledge to pursue those careers. Now in its fourth year, the ATSIMS program has engaged more than 110 Indigenous Year 9 and 10 students from schools spanning Burdekin to Ingham, helping to realise the potential of young Indigenous Australians pursuing careers in marine science and management. In 2015, the first cohort of ATSIMS alumni graduated from school and many are now enrolled at university, some the first members of their families to do so.

Highly Commended: Silkwood School for Connecting to country through totems

Silkwood School is a small, independent, co-educational primary and high school with a strategic focus on authentically embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, histories and culture into learning spaces and initiatives. In 2014–15, the school developed and implemented a connecting to country through totems learning program, based on current research into educational practice methodologies on Pedagogy of Place, Aboriginal Ways of Learning and Kids Teaching Kids. This whole-of-school learning program from Prep to Year 12 aims to facilitate teaching and learning initiatives focusing on connecting to self (personal wellbeing and identity), others (strong social and cultural relationships) and place (nature and the wider community of life). Through connecting to country through totems, students learn how to become custodians and develop respect for the land and how it sustains us.

Finalist: Bald Hills State School for Turrwan Circle

In 2013, Bald Hills State School embarked on a journey to better connect the school with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Based on authentic connection and relationship of trust, the school’s Indigenous families, Indigenous and non-Indigenous teaching staff, administrative staff and local community members formed the Turrwan Circle. Turrwan is a traditional language word from the local Turrbal people that means ‘capable of great things’, and reclaiming power through language is one of the group’s many aims. From this position of mutual respect, Turrwan Circle’s agreed agenda became one of excellence and empowerment, delivering creative learning programs and engaging activities in partnerships with community and education agencies to close the gap in education and facilitate change through reconciliation to create a better future for children.

Finalist: Wagner Road Early Childhood Centre and C&K Kindergarten for Collegial teaching and learning partnership with Aboriginal Elder, Uncle Joe Kirk

Wagner Road Early Childhood Centre and Kindergarten have formed a collegial teaching and learning partnership with Aboriginal Elder, Uncle Joe Kirk. Through this partnership, Wagner Road Early Childhood Centre and Kindergarten has developed an inclusive curriculum design that honours two-way teaching and learning along with culturally-responsive practices at classroom and operational levels. Staff, children and families have a deeper understanding of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and the impacts of Australian history for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians, gained through their partnership with Uncle Joe Kirk. Wagner Road Early Childhood Centre and Kindergarten is able to share key learnings from this partnership with the broader early childhood community to educate and support other non-Indigenous early childhood services and educators to develop and enact reconciliation initiatives.


Supported by QGC

Winner: Department of Transport and Main Roads, and Cape York Land Council Aboriginal Corporation for Peninsula Priority Agreement

The Peninsula Developmental Road Priority Agreement is a demonstration of Indigenous and government partnering in an act of compromise and understanding to achieve economic prosperity for Indigenous people and Traditional Owners local to the Peninsula Development Road in Cape York. With respect for the Traditional Owners of the land and fostering the importance of cultural tradition, the agreement has engaged and employed local Indigenous people and businesses, implemented mandatory cultural heritage training and ensured a level of duty of care for country is conducted by all working on the development. The relevant Traditional Owners for each section of the road are consulted before any activities commence and are the only people who may speak for that particular section. The agreement allows the Queensland Government to prioritise employment and training of Indigenous people and award contracts that maximise opportunities for Indigenous business and participation.

Highly Commended: Bond University and Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia for Women Yarning Up

Women Yarning Up is an initiative involving annual visits to remote Queensland Indigenous communities by school principals and high profile businesswomen to deepen understanding of the issues facing young Indigenous people when leaving their communities to attend high school. The initiative gives participants a unique ‘immersion in community’ experience. Individuals gain first-hand knowledge of the lifestyle, family structure, social issues and cultural traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in remote Queensland. The visits include one-on-one classroom teaching; discussions with community teachers and principals; student presentations; meetings with Traditional Owners, Elders and regional education authorities; and visits to various community centres. The initiative has included women from Queensland, across Australia and the world. The participants have the opportunity to learn from local Indigenous communities to gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture or put their knowledge into practice.

Finalist: Australian Red Cross and Woorabinda Place Based Governance Committee for Woorabinda Place Based Project

The Woorabinda Place Based Project represents a governance committee comprising representatives of the Red Cross and Woorabinda community members. The committee has a responsibility to deliver services that meet the needs and aspirations of the community, and are culturally appropriate and consistent with organisational service quality standards. The project provides a range of programs and initiatives including support for youth, women and those on community service orders. The project is committed to building lasting social and economic value in Indigenous communities, driving respect and positive change, and harnessing opportunities to empower and support Indigenous people to be socially inclusive.

Finalist: Brisbane Broncos and Institute for Urban Indigenous Health for Deadly Choices

The Deadly Choices program empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make healthy choices for themselves and their families – to stop smoking, eat good food and exercise daily. Deadly Choices also encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access their local community-controlled health service to complete an annual health check. With a strong belief that sporting organisations have a positive impact on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the partnership has been crucial in driving health awareness of Deadly Choices, achieved through an array of activities and involvement of the Brisbane Broncos. With a good representation of Indigenous people in the Broncos playing group, it is simple to identify how Indigenous Australians have a close affinity to the players and the club. The partnership’s success highlights the positive impact Indigenous role models have on the community, in making Deadly Choices and encouraging the use of preventative health services.

Premier’s Reconciliation Award

Winner: Bond University and Alliance of Girls' Schools Australasia for Women Yarning Up

2016 awards video gallery

2016 awards photo gallery

2016 awards sponsors

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

Proudly supported by:


Supported by BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton


Supported by Queensland Treasury Corporation

Queensland Treasury Corporation logo


Supported by Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright


Supported by QGC

QGC logo

Print and online partner

Koori Mail

Koori Mail logo

Radio partner

612 ABC Brisbane and ABC Local Radio

612 ABC Brisbane and ABC Local Radio

Previous winners

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Last updated
26 June, 2017
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