Today on the 18th of March, we commemorate two matters of great importance – National Close the Gap Day and, the 46th Anniversary of the Maiden Speech to Queensland Parliament by Eric Deeral, the first Aboriginal man elected to a State Parliament in Australia.
Minister for Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the legacy of the late Eric Deeral — a proud Guugu Yimithirr man, amplified the rights and voices of First Nations people in Queensland.
“Mr Deeral’s advocacy for the electorate of Cook and more broadly for the rights of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples — including for improved access to education, employment, housing, land and water interests and the value of preserving languages — is reflected in the new National Closing the Gap targets,” Mr Crawford said.
“Continued advocacy lights the way for more Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people to shape decisions, legislation and life-changing outcomes.
“Today the seat of Cook is held by Cynthia Lui MP, the first Torres Strait Islander elected to any parliament in Australia, who alongside Minister Leeanne Enoch, a Nunukul-Nughi woman of the Quandamooka nation, and Member for Bundamba Lance McCallum, a Gubbi Gubbi man, work with our parliamentary colleagues to drive positive outcomes across the state,” he said.
Mr Crawford said the Queensland Government recognised calls from generations of First Nations people to progress a Path to Treaty towards a more inclusive and just future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“Self-determination and community-led decision-making is at the heart of Queensland’s Path to Treaty, Local Thriving Communities reform and our state’s role in the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” he said.
Mr Crawford said the Queensland Government’s funding towards National Closing the Gap efforts would help boost culturally appropriate services.
“The Queensland Government’s investment of $9.3 million over four years as part of the National Closing the Gap Agreement will help strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services across key areas, including early childhood care and development, disability support, health and housing,” he said.
“Community-controlled services employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and give people access to culturally appropriate services needed to support individuals, families and communities to thrive.
“The Queensland Government — like all other jurisdictions — will partner with state representatives of peak bodies and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to implement the national agreement.
“We will work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives from a range of sectors to work towards positive outcomes at a local level and across the state,” he said.
Queensland’s positive progress to-date includes:
- More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people enrolled in vital early education and attaining Year 12 or equivalent qualifications than ever before.
- Around 97 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander five-year old’s are fully immunised, compared with 94.5 per cent of all five-year old’s.
- Life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland is the highest of all the jurisdictions.