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2017 winners and finalists

Business

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Winner: The Woodward Family CaPTA Group

The Woodward Family CaPTA Group (CaPTA) commenced operations in 1976 in Far North Queensland and is a tourism operation that employs over 200 staff. CaPTA comprises eight tourism-related businesses, tourist parks, coach companies and a registered training organisation.

With the ultimate goal of increasing long-term Indigenous employment within the region, CaPTA has implemented a number of initiatives and programs ranging from an Indigenous Employment Strategy, and Structured Training and Employment Project within CaPTA, to involvement within the Queensland Tourism Industry Council’s Indigenous Champions Network, and supporting the Australian Employment Covenant to reduce Indigenous poverty. These initiatives include the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience at Rainforestation Nature Park, and training opportunities provided by its registered training organisation, Careers Training Centre.

For example, Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience has seen outstanding results. As at 31 March 2017, Pamagirri performed almost 20,000 times, welcomed 2,675,000 visitors, and paid over $8 million in wages and salaries to members of Pamagirri. In addition, over the 24 years of operation, more than 25 Pamagirri members have achieved long service leave.

Careers Training Centre has also launched an Indigenous Engagement Program in partnership with Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas, offering hospitality training and paid positions to successful applicants.

Highly commended: WorkPac Group

The WorkPac Group Reconciliation initiative began in 2015 with the aim of increasing reconciliation investment and contribution in Australia.

As a Queensland-owned provider of training and employment services to the resources sector, WorkPac Group is predominantly situated in rural and remote locations across South East, Central and Far Northern regions of Queensland.

As such, services are delivered in, or in close proximity to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and lands. To date the WorkPac Group Reconciliation initiative has realised several outcomes including:

  • creation of a specialist Indigenous Services division, JobTrail, within the WorkPac Group
  • creation of innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2017–19
  • official launch of the RAP on both the East and West Coasts, attended by community groups and clients
  • development of WorkPac Group’s reconciliation journey video, narrated by Mr Alec Doomadgee, which introduces the journey as told through the RAP artwork designed by Mr Stephen Hogarth. The purpose of this video was to raise awareness, among employees and wider communities, of the group’s support and underlying commitment to reconciliation
  • design and delivery of several programs of work throughout Queensland which provide training and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • development of new relationships with community members and support groups across WorkPac Group’s locational footprint which has led to increased participation efforts.

As at March 2017, the WorkPac Group has achieved an improved culture of inclusion and awareness towards reconciliation, and strengthened ambition and capacity to move forward, positively, on its journey.

Finalist: BMD Group

BMD is a national group of companies engaged in engineering design, construction and land development for clients and partners in the urban development, transport infrastructure, mining and resources, and energy sectors.

The BMD story began in Queensland in 1979, with its business approach firmly underpinned by a philosophy to ‘support the local communities in which we operate’.

With its proven history on remote and regional projects, BMD has proactively moved towards a more holistic approach to Indigenous engagement and participation in its workforce.

It is through this longstanding commitment to the local community, engaging with Traditional Custodian groups, employing local people on projects, and supporting local community groups resulted in the decision to formally embed this approach throughout the company, as BMD’s priority to make a difference.

BMD is committed to not only continuing to integrate mainstream opportunities for communities throughout Australia and Torres Strait Islands, but to further drive equality and diversity in its workforce.

Finalist: The Whole Child

The Whole Child provides paediatric occupational therapy (OT) services, and Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) consultations, encompassing mainstream health, natural health and parent education services to meet the needs and priorities of ‘the whole child’. It is the only business in Australia to combine OT, GAPS, and peaceful behaviour management strategies, providing a truly holistic approach.

As a small family business, The Whole Child liaises closely with local Aboriginal health clinics, schools and community organisations. By establishing strong relationships in the community, and providing culturally appropriate and flexible services, attendance rates for families of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander background is approximately 98 per cent.

The Whole Child is subsidised by CheckUp funding and bulk billed—providing access to high quality services without families being out-of-pocket. Despite funding reductions over the past four years, The Whole Child has continued to go the extra mile to ensure positive outcomes for children and their families.

Since receiving services, local health organisations report children and families have flourished, overcome challenges, markedly increased school attendance, and become more confident in themselves. These services are highly valued in the community, impacting lives and empowering families.

Community

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Winner: Cairns Hockey Association for Aspire to be Deadly

Aspire to be Deadly incorporates social benefit programs and uses hockey as the platform to support positive behavioural change in young Indigenous women and girls. With opportunities mainly targeting young boys through the football codes, this program now offers regular and ongoing mentor focus to young Indigenous women and girls in the Torres Strait and Gulf, as well as in Cairns and Cape regions.

Supported by BDO North Queensland and Just Hockey, the program encourages improved behaviour at school, increased attendance at specialised workshops and development of relationships with female role models through a specially designed Mentor Support Program. This provides increased opportunity for young women and girls to attain further education and employment while being mentored to exercise positive life choices.

In 2017, the program expanded to partner with Cairns West State School to provide a mentor and skills development program to 16 Indigenous women and girls in grades 5 and 6, and their families. The program also partnered with Peninsula Sports to provide an opportunity for Indigenous women and girls to be selected in state school sport programs through a ‘Presidents Team’, with Peninsula Sports also providing coaches, managers and resources to support this program.

Since its inception, more than 30 Indigenous women and girls across Far North Queensland have nominated to be part of this program.

Highly commended: C&K Estelle Cardiff Community Kindergarten

Since 2009, Estelle Cardiff Community Kindergarten educates children to be part of practical, meaningful and insightful exploration of cultural integrity through an ongoing program of reconciliation.

Its journey began with Aunty Barb Sam coming to sit under the tree and share stories with the children. Over the years the children learned the techniques of painting from Aunty Barb and always produced a beautiful painting as a gift for each of their families to present on Christmas break-up day.

Last year, Uncle Shawn Major joined Aunty Barb with storytelling and turned the Dreamtime Stories into dance, a dance the children performed for parents, friends and the community on their Christmas break-up day.

In 2016, the kindergarten applied for an ‘Artist in Residence’ grant—not just for the kindergarten, but to encompass all Mount Isa C&K kindergartens. Identifying as the oldest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kindergarten within the Mount Isa community, the Estelle Cardiff Community Kindergarten is proud to be the leader in reconciliation, with its philosophy to be an authentic and abiding part of the reconciliation journey.

Finalist: Blackbird International Limited for The Solwata Club

The Solwata Club harnesses vessels and initiatives that reconnect Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander people to the sea—recognising the history of the Saltwater people and the connection that saltwater has had through the centuries including pearling, blackbirding, cultural influences, culture, history and stories.

In particular, The Solwata Club’s focus is on the preservation and restoration of the Indigenous maritime history of Far North Queensland through the preservation of pearling luggers and outrigger canoes.

The Saving Torres Strait Pearls campaign is restoring historic Torres Strait pearling luggers, ‘Antonia’ and ‘Triton’, and recognising the many cultures that were involved in pearling. Pearling luggers last left the Torres Strait in 1999 and The Solwata Club’s work has been to ensure that this important part of Australia’s maritime history is preserved. This includes the 1899 Pearling Disaster Recognition Expeditions, recognising local Aboriginal people who drowned in the 1899 Cape Melville Hurricane; and the Forgotten Pearlers project acknowledging the real story of Aboriginal enslavement in early pearling and beche-de-mer fishing through to Mission-run luggers of the 1960s.

Finalist: Puuya Foundation for Developing Everyday Leaders—The Puuya Foundation and Lockhart River Aboriginal Community

Since forming in 2008, the Puuya Foundation and the Indigenous community in the remote, disadvantaged area of Lockhart River have successfully applied innovative community building strategies to facilitate reconciliation. These strategies focus on growing ‘puuya’ to develop leadership, productive partnerships, competence and confidence. Puuya means ‘heart’ or ‘life-force’ in Kuuku Ya’u language.

What makes the Puuya Foundation different is its belief that the Lockhart River community must themselves determine and drive a bright new future, and the strategic road needed to achieve it. The Puuya Foundation has played a critical role in taking steps to realise reconciliation in the community.

As a facilitator of reconciliation, the Puuya Foundation’s purpose and role is to develop everyday leaders to empower local communities. Its model—the Puuya Approach—facilitates inclusive and collaborative action-focused group conversations between local Indigenous leaders and workers, government, policy-makers, service providers, and business representatives.

The Puuya Foundation is embedded in the community, building its capacity by listening and learning, developing partnerships, strengthening life-force and reconciliation, and identifying and supporting the conditions for community leadership to flourish. It converts shared dreams for a vibrant, sustainable and cohesive community, into reality.

Education

Proudly supported by BHP Billiton

Winner: North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre for North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre and Woppaburra Traditional Owners

The Woppaburra People of the Keppel Islands and the North Keppel Island Education and Environmental Centre (NKIEEC) have been working in close partnership since 2011. In 2013, both parties signed a ‘Statement of Intent’ to ensure ongoing building and facilitation of education and reconciliation practices through mutual respect and recognition of Woppaburra Ancestors, history, customs and protocols on country via the NKIEEC curriculum and practices.

Two representative Woppaburra bodies have been working collaboratively with NKIEEC:

  • the Woppaburra Land Trust who acts as a custodian for the land on behalf of all Aboriginal people for whom it is held and, in addition, acts as a reference point for all Woppaburra Traditional Country
  • the Woppaburra Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement Committee in partnership with government agencies collectively manage the health of our Sea Country and the conservation of all marine life.

While the NKIEEC and the Woppaburra work in partnership, the Woppaburra People are the sovereign Traditional Owners of the country and operates within a mutually respectful sovereign framework with the NKIEEC. Significant changes and outcomes have occurred through the partnership, such as the vital reconnection of Woppaburra Elders to their country and growing respect from students, staff and visitors to NKIEEC for the Woppaburra’s People sovereign ancestral/traditional ownership over country.

Highly commended: Bald Hills State School for Turrwan Circle

In 2013, Bald Hills State School embarked on a journey to better connect the school with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Turrwan Circle was formed through an authentic connection and relationship of trust between the school’s Indigenous families, Indigenous and non-Indigenous teaching staff, administrative staff and local community members. Turrwan is a traditional language word from the local Turrbal People, which 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 agenda became one of excellence with focus on high Indigenous student achievement in reading through targeted programmes, and dedication to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and families through values of respect, reconciliation and the pursuit of knowledge.

Finalist: Mabel Park State High School for The Miracles of Mabel

Mabel Park State High School has a holistic approach to improving literacy, attendance and health of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Miracles of Mabel is a program that aims to promote health and emotional wellbeing within the school’s Indigenous community and the wider community, by instilling a sense of cultural pride and identity at a whole of school level.

As part of this program, the school implemented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service health checks along with other supporting programs to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, positive relationships and education around healthy lifestyle choices.

The initial student health checks have now evolved into more activities, programs and support, as the students gain more confidence within themselves and their abilities.

The school has seen an increase in student enrolment from 56 students in 2013 to 104 students in 2017 identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Enrolments, attendance, behaviour and pathways to further education have all significantly improved over the past three years since the implementation of The Miracles of Mabel and its associated programs.

Finalist: Tamborine Mountain State School for Jingeri Jingeri Project

Tamborine Mountain State School’s Jingeri Jingeri Project came to fruition in 2011, with students, staff and community recognising the importance of taking the next step on the reconciliation journey.

The Jingeri Jingeri Project comprises a number of initiatives undertaken by the Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in Schools (EATSIPS) committee and school community, with the purpose of promoting meaningful and sustained relationships between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on Tamborine Mountain and the broader school community.

With 2.4 per cent of students at Tambourine Mountain State School identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, the school demonstrates great commitment to consolidating and extending knowledge, understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures despite this small percentage. Since 2011, the inaugural Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony has been the catalyst for the progressive and authentic school-wide development.

Highlights of the school’s reconciliation journey include:

  • Tambourine Mountain State School Thunderbird Choir singing the National Anthem and other repertoire in Yugambeh language
  • Tambourine Mountain State School’s highly regarded NAIDOC Week celebrations which engage students, staff and the wider community and promote cross-cultural understanding
  • 2016 Runner-up in the ABC Marrin Gamu National Indigenous Song Competition
  • 2015 South East Region EATSIPS Principal of the Year for the Principal’s achievements in reaching high standards of EATSIPS implementation within TMSS
  • the development of Yugambeh language resources, supporting Indigenous students’ ownership of the program
  • inclusion of one of the school’s talented Indigenous parents with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage in curriculum and extra-curricular events
  • engagement with Elders and the Yugambeh Museum to provide clarity and direction for the Jingeri Jingeri Project.

Partnership

Proudly supported by the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships

Winner: Cairns Indigenous Art Fair and Ports North for Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is Australia’s premier Indigenous art fair held at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal at Cityport.

CIAF was established by the Queensland Government in 2009 to create a stronger and more sustainable Indigenous arts industry in Queensland. A partnership was formed with Ports North in 2011 in recognition of a common appreciation of Indigenous art and culture with the desire to make it accessible to all.

By 2014, the art fair became its own independent entity—CIAF Limited—which is now a not-for-profit company.

CIAF is held over four days each July and is the only event in Australia where commercial galleries and Indigenous community art centres come together to sell their art. The first event in 2011 drew attendance of 13,000. This has grown to a record high of 51,000 in 2016, with art sales over $650,000.

Key to CIAF’s success is innovation across a number of cultural art-forms combined with strong local partnerships. The many free and ticketed events, including dance, film, musical performance, artist workshops, and a bustling art market, provide strong career pathways and economic opportunities for Indigenous artists.

For Ports North, which facilitates maritime, trade and tourism industries, the partnership supports the many Indigenous communities based at its ports, delivers economic growth and showcases its stunning waterfront facilities.

Highly commended: Douglas Shire Council and Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation for Return to Country Local Planning Scheme

Douglas Shire Council while working in partnership with the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners has demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation in community shaping through its commitment to its ‘Return to Country’ initiatives embedded within its proposed Douglas Planning Scheme.

These initiatives were born out of early targeted consultation on a draft Planning Scheme with Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, Burungu Aboriginal Corporation and Eastern Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners to change the draft planning scheme to create a new trail-blazing planning framework that supports Traditional Owners’ aspirations to Return to Country.

The 2007 Native Title determination returned significant areas of Aboriginal Freehold land to Traditional Owners. The Indigenous Land Use Agreements identified these areas for housing and economic development with Traditional Owners agreeing to set aside larger areas for conservation either in national parks or freehold land protected by a conservation covenant.

However following the determination, the Traditional Owners groups faced incredibly complex and expensive approval processes due to current local government planning regimes and other legislative impediments.

The Return to Country Local Plan initiative demonstrates how a local government has respected and recognised, for the first time under a Planning Scheme framework, the aspirations and intentions of Traditional Owners to self-determine the use of their traditional homelands for social and economic beneficial outcomes. The Return to Country Local Plan Precincts provides the regulatory planning framework to this significant ongoing community shaping project within the Douglas Shire.

Finalist: Economic Development Queensland and Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council for Palm Island Regional Liveability Project

The Indigenous community of Palm Island experiences some of the lowest levels of employment, educational standards and health quality in Queensland and Australia. At the same time the community experiences some of the highest levels of crime rates and chronic housing overcrowding.

In late 2015, Economic Development Queensland proposed the statewide pilot, Palm Island Liveability Project, as a collaborative way to address these issues and improve the lives of local Indigenous residents. Multiple initiatives were proposed to promote economic and community development and sustainability.

The project’s overall aim is to improve the lives of local Indigenous Australians along with the top-level goal of fostering reconciliation and paving the way for a better future for Queensland. Initiatives include:

  • Retail and Business Precinct Development
  • Streetscape Beautification
  • Town Square Redevelopment
  • Sporting Precinct Rejuvenation.

Activities began in 2016 and are expected to be completed to various degrees by 2018 with key components, such as the Town Square Redevelopment, completed in early 2017.

All activities are planned and implemented in conjunction with the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council to ensure maximum participation with members of the local Indigenous community. To date an estimated eight short-term jobs have been created as part of the project. This is projected to rise to 49 full-time and casual jobs upon the new Retail and Business Precinct reaching operational capacity.

Finalist: KickArts Contemporary Arts and Badu Art Centre for Sageraw Thonar Exhibition and Catalogue

In recognising the significant efforts of artists as ambassadors for culture and language, KickArts has long played a vital role in assisting artists and art centres from the Far North Queensland region reach a wider audience.

The Sageraw Thonar Exhibition and Catalogue initiative was the development of a bilingual art exhibition highlighting the tradition of large-scale relief printing in the Torres Strait region. KickArts Contemporary Arts based in Cairns developed a partnership with Badu Art Centre to present the exhibition, Sageraw Thonar.

For two years KickArts worked with the artists on Badu Island to develop the theme, administer, design and present the content of the exhibition with Badu Art Centre as part of the 2016 Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

Furthermore KickArts arranged for the first bilingual exhibition catalogue, featuring Kala Lagaw Ya and English, to be produced to accompany the exhibition in recognition of the significance of language as underpinning culture. This catalogue was produced to assist the Badu Art Centre in their program of cultural maintenance.

KickArts has been working with Badu Art Centre for over three years. This project employed eight Torres Strait Islander artists from Badu and five KickArts staff members, one of whom is also from the Torres Strait.

Artwork from the exhibition has been acquired by four major national collections and will be represented in the upcoming National Indigenous Triennial held at the National Gallery of Australia. The exhibition will be presented at Parliament House in Canberra in 2017.

Premier’s Reconciliation Award

Puuya Foundation for Developing Everyday Leaders—The Puuya Foundation and Lockhart River Aboriginal Community

Since forming in 2008, the Puuya Foundation and the Indigenous community in the remote, disadvantaged area of Lockhart River have successfully applied innovative community building strategies to facilitate reconciliation. These strategies focus on growing ‘puuya’ to develop leadership, productive partnerships, competence and confidence. Puuya means ‘heart’ or ‘life-force’ in Kuuku Ya’u language.

What makes the Puuya Foundation different is its belief that the Lockhart River community must themselves determine and drive a bright new future, and the strategic road needed to achieve it. The Puuya Foundation has played a critical role in taking steps to realise reconciliation in the community.

As a facilitator of reconciliation, the Puuya Foundation’s purpose and role is to develop everyday leaders to empower local communities. Its model—the Puuya Approach—facilitates inclusive and collaborative action-focused group conversations between local Indigenous leaders and workers, government, policy-makers, service providers, and business representatives.

The Puuya Foundation is embedded in the community, building its capacity by listening and learning, developing partnerships, strengthening life-force and reconciliation, and identifying and supporting the conditions for community leadership to flourish. It converts shared dreams for a vibrant, sustainable and cohesive community, into reality.

2017 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:

Business

Supported by Koori Mail

Koori Mail

Community

Supported by ABC Radio Brisbane and Queensland

ABC Radio Brisbane and Queensland ABC Radio

Education

Supported by BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton

Partnership

Supported by the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships

Queensland Government

Previous winners

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Last updated
26 June, 2017
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