These Awards recognise initiatives undertaken by businesses, community organisations and groups, educational institutions and government going above and beyond their core business to foster reconciliation and pave the way for a better future for our state.
The 2022 recipients are:
A skills shortage and a tendency to source projects offshore have meant that Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples have benefitted little from the booming information and communications technology (ICT) industry. Baidam Solutions, the nation's leading Indigenous ICT security provider, takes a multipronged approach to ensuring this industry’s future benefits from Indigenous input.
In the past 18 months, Baidam Solutions has become the first Indigenous business in Australia to set up and fund university scholarships in perpetuity. To date, this initiative has already seen Indigenous peoples go from curious to accredited to entry-level employees in the ICT industry.
The initiative provides clear pathways for accreditation and employment for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The business aims to continue to create a space for Indigenous youth in the booming ICT and cybersecurity fields, ensuring that the commercial gains from the industry go back to local communities.
Rork Projects has been a partnership some 40 years in the making. Built on a life-long friendship between two school friends of different backgrounds, its story echoes the nation’s journey towards reconciliation – of learning from each other and respecting each other’s backgrounds and journeys. They have come together to build and strengthen meaningful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
The business is proudly committed to reconciliation through its staff-led engagement strategy to strengthen Indigenous business growth and economic participation. Rork Projects continues to celebrate and advocate for Indigenous excellence and entrepreneurial skills to break existing stereotypes and barriers for their community. It fosters and champions beneficial working relationships and engagement with Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Rork Projects endeavours to enhance and enrich not only its workforce, but its clients, networks and – through them – the wider Australian community.
Mount Tabor Station, a three-hour drive from Charleville in remote western Queensland, holds a strong cultural significance to the Bidjara people. The Goorathuntha Traditional Owners have been managing the station since 2014, and have been working to protect significant sites, record cultural knowledge and train community members to deliver cultural courses and share knowledge. They have overseen the construction of tourism facilities, campsites and the planting of new trees to bring back wildlife, but resources can be scarce and there is always more to do.
A chance conversation between a Bidjara woman and a Santos employee has led to the Goorathuntha Traditional Owners negotiating a landmark partnership with Santos to establish an environmental offset program covering 10,000 hectares of Mount Tabor Station. This 20-year partnership protects and improves traditional lands, generates economic participation for the community, and supports the environmental approvals for Santos’ developments.
SupplyAUS is a modern Indigenous business delivering a range of high-quality industry leading products and services to both government and private industries. The business is driven by its commitment to social investment and empowerment of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples by investing in partnerships aimed at eliminating barriers of trust and reliability.
The business brings together the collective wisdom and experiences from a group of people whose bloodlines spans across the country, from Pilbara in Western Australia to the Torres Strait Islands. The community is at the heart of the business and continues to be the basis for its decision-making.
SupplyAUS has delivered a myriad of initiatives within the last year. From supplying back-to-school kits to 500 Indigenous kids, to launching its own coffee promoting Indigenous language, to developing a recycling program that has generated jobs for the community. The business continues to deliver not only safe employment pathways for the Indigenous community, but outcomes to improve lives.
The Hinchinbrook Indigenous Literacy Project was the first collaboration involving Hinchinbrook Shire Council and all three First nations groups of the Shire – the Nywaigi, Bandjin and Warrgamay First Nations peoples. For the first time, through this project, Elders from the three First Nations groups embraced the opportunity to consult together. They have bridged gaps between the groups to produce culturally significant resources in all three languages to enable new connections to be established between families of children aged 0-5 years.
From the beginning of the project, the focus was on mutual respect and understanding of culture. Equal representation was prioritised as being a cornerstone of the project as well as building relationships and connections between the First Nations groups themselves and with the Hinchinbrook Shire Council. At its heart, this reconciliation initiative is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal peoples, Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of the Hinchinbrook community.
Scenic Rim Regional Council Libraries, in conjunction with the local Indigenous Mununjali Jymbi support team and the First 5 Forever program, recognised a need to foster early literacy skills and an awareness of local Indigenous languages – Mununjali, Yugarapul and Jagara. Through the publication of an Indigenous storybook, song and learning resources, Scenic Rim Regional Council Libraries achieved a deeply local outcome, reviving Indigenous language in the community. Council's investment has benefited the community through the recognition and development of an awareness and connection to Indigenous culture. This vital work is supporting literacy development in the local community and strengthening the links between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Council has continued to develop the project for replication in other communities.
National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) celebrations in the Far North Queensland remote community of Pormpuraaw hold a special place in the heart of the local community and in particular, Aunty Myrtle Foote. As the leading force for NAIDOC in the community, and as an Elder, Aunty Myrtle views the celebrations as a way to unite people from all backgrounds, to celebrate and understand the culture, history and interconnections of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Although NAIDOC is celebrated widely throughout Australia, the Pormpuraaw NAIDOC Week 2021 celebrations reinforced and promoted the values of trust, respect and understanding. The celebrations brought the community together to recognise the culture and heritage of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to break down racial and equality barriers. The initiative, very deliberately, brought together a community from diverse backgrounds to collectively celebrate the culture and heritage of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and promote respect by, and to, everyone who participates or observes.
Blackwater State High School is dedicated to educating the young people of Blackwater, a small town in regional Central Queensland. It is one of the larger population centres near the Aboriginal Shire of Woorabinda, and currently 23 per cent of the school’s 376 students identify as being a First Nations Australian.
In late 2020, the school’s leadership team reflected on the need to build its cultural capability, particularly by continuing to strengthen its relationships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders in the community. Through this journey, Blackwater State High School began the process of developing its own Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
As a significant local educational institution that has both direct and indirect influence on the town, Blackwater State High School strove to use the RAP to foster reconciliation. Some key steps in this process included developing a vision for reconciliation with staff, celebrating the efforts of students, staff and the community striving for reconciliation through school-led Reconciliation Awards, and consulting with the wider community on their plan.
The Urangan Point State School Junior Rangers Program involves the teaching of local Butchulla knowledge to students. It aims to build and enhance traditional knowledge, enrich working relationships with the local community and improve student engagement through pathway planning and collaborative practice around Indigenous perspectives. By strategically forming relationships with the Butchulla Land and Sea Rangers (BLASR) and the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation (BAC), Urangan Point State School is creating meaningful pathways that build on students’ strengths, interests and aspirations.
The Junior Rangers Program has provided learning experiences beyond the scope of traditional schooling. It has facilitated key learnings on country, practical experiences and the utilisation of local environments and resources to grow and improve student knowledge. The initiative ensures that all students are educated in how to connect traditional Butchulla culture and cultural practices within their local area. The program has set a common goal to improve the relationships and outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
Waterford West State School has partnered with the local Indigenous community to develop Bush Tucker Garden. The initiative aims to enhance opportunities for teaching staff, students and members of the community, to deepen their knowledge of Australia through engagement with the world’s oldest living culture.
The school has incorporated the study of the Yugambeh language as part of the curriculum. However, just as the Indigenous language varies within and beyond the Yugambeh region, so do the stories and plant knowledge. The garden shares these stories told by local elders using video and QR codes for various plants.
The project significantly contributes to protection of the environment and enhances the natural environment and heritage for future generations living on Yugambeh country. It has enabled the community to have a greater understanding of the country's history, as well as the shared stories for staff, students and members of the community to reflect upon.
Health and wellbeing
The Boss Boxing is an initiative of the Pass on the Fire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation. It is a First Nations-owned gym that aims to be a culturally safe and inclusive space that fosters healthy and positive relationships via sport and recreation activities. Based in Zillmere, the initiative was developed around local Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the broader community needs of Brisbane’s northside to address issues of social inequity and the ensuing emotional wellbeing.
The volunteer-based initiative services the needs of the local community, including disadvantaged and at-risk groups. The Boss Boxing initiative offers mentoring and other programs and pathways to support the community and its young people. Members not only build on their physical strength, but also their character – to build their skills, determination and resilience.
Founded in 2013, Nourishing Bites utilises natural and flavoursome botanicals sourced and 'connected to country' to produce healthy sweet treats that are free from refined sugar, gluten and dairy. With diabetes and many diet-based health conditions becoming increasingly prominent within the Indigenous community, the business is committed to continuously improving their health and wellbeing.
The business is also committed to investing in developing and promoting the Indigenous growers they form partnerships with along the way. As the Nourishing Bites reach grows, so too will their opportunity to share its message of unity and sustainable health and wellbeing.
Nourishing Bites is an Indigenous Australian business operating with mutual respectful for its partners and community. Nourishing Bites’ customers are able to learn about the rich cultural heritage and medicinal benefits of Australian native ingredients and support sustainable Indigenous agriculture.
Yarrie Yarns is a social media project aspiring towards social change for the Yarrabah community. It shares First Nations stories, otherwise known as yarns, to inspire, motivate, educate, empower and promote reconciliation. Led by the Queensland Police Service in partnership with the Yarrabah Shire Council and Wugu Nyambil Employment Services, their collaboration continually highlights the achievements of the Yarrabah community and its people.
The project commenced in Yarrabah in 2017 to celebrate the community, people, culture and the connections throughout Australia whilst highlighting achievements, opportunities, reconciliation, challenges and issues. It initially began to combat the negative portrayal of the community and to foster a sense of empowerment for the community. Throughout 2020 and 2021, Yarrie Yarns promoted a series of 250 yarns for 250 years of reconciliation in Australia where achievements, culture, communities, connections and reconciliation were highlighted and celebrated.
Reconciliation Through Sport was designed to achieve grassroots reconciliation between Queensland Police Service and the local Indigenous community. Through rugby league, Senior Sergeant Darren Randall proposed the development of a partnership between Queensland Police Service and the Bindal Sharks United Training, Employment and Sport and Recreation Aboriginal Corporation (UTESRAC).
Permission was granted for a Queensland Police Service team to participate in the 2018 Queensland Murri Rugby League Carnival. Since then, their participation has evolved into a standing invitation to participate in the Regional All Blacks Carnival, the inclusion of the Queensland Police Service Women’s team and Masters’ team.
The initiative was born out of a desire to create a culture of historical acceptance - acknowledging past practices, ensuring wrongs are not repeated and driving relationships forward in the spirit of reconciliation and togetherness through sport. This ethos is further embraced by the partnership with Bindal Sharks UTESRAC, who facilitates the platforms, or sporting events, for reconciliation.
The Palm Island Health Action Plan called for a greater focus on primary health care to address the poor health outcomes of the community. This led to Palm Island Community Company working closely with the Townsville Hospital and Health Service to transition primary health services on Palm Island to community control.
The initiative has completely re-framed the way health services are delivered on Palm Island, facilitating the aspirations of the Palm Island community to own and manage their own health service. It exemplifies successful relationship building between community and mainstream organisations to support self-determination, especially within a remote Indigenous community.
On 1 July 2021, Palm Island Community Company moved to a new, purpose-built primary health care facility previously operated by Townsville Hospital and Health Service. The transition was successfully completed, and all staff have become one team, employed by the community.
The $662.5 million Bruce Highway Upgrade – Caboolture-Bribie Island Road to Steve Irwin Way (Exit 163) project (C2SIW) is jointly-funded with the Australian Government committing $530 million and the Queensland Government committing $132.5 million. The project involves widening 11 kilometres of the Bruce Highway from four to six lanes between Caboolture and Beerburrum, north of Brisbane. The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has committed to achieve this through two contracts. Contract one, between Caboolture-Bribie Island Road and Pumicestone Road is being delivered in partnership with Acciona Infrastructure Projects Australia Pty Ltd (Acciona) and Aurecon Australia Pty Ltd (Aurecon).
Through careful planning and deliberate commitment from inception, the project has ensured compliance requirements are not only being met but exceeded at every opportunity, while fostering an environment that is genuinely focused on reconciliation. To date, the team has nurtured a positive relationship with Traditional Owners, the Kabi Kabi First Nation People, undertaken cultural heritage and awareness training, engaged 15 cultural heritage monitors and commissioned an Indigenous artwork to display on project uniforms.