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A showcase of leadership

Friday 7 June 2019

Wow, what a week. The Indigenous Leaders Forum here in Cairns, Queensland Day and a State of Origin win in the first game of the 2019 Series.

But to the most important thing first. The ILF meeting at which 16 of our 17 indigenous councils were represented. It is never lost on us at the LGAQ that one in every four and a half of our members is an indigenous council. For that reason, a contingent of LGAQ staff and I committed two and a half days to help facilitate this regular event. For us it is about listening to our indigenous brothers and sisters so we can better understand their challenges and aspirations.

Indigenous Leaders Forum Cairns 2019

Read: The Statement from the 2019 Indigenous Leaders Forum 

I have said a number of times in the past few years that the current indigenous council leadership group is the most impressive crop of leaders I’ve worked with during my 27 years at the LGAQ, and it is a privilege to work with them. There is enthusiasm, positivity, talent and lots of achievements. And its shows in their communities, which the LGAQ Policy Executive witnessed first-hand last year when it met on Palm Island and will see later this year when it meets on Thursday Island. Go you good things.


The meeting acknowledged the recent advocacy wins during the federal election, particularly the $110 million the Morrison Government has pledged for indigenous housing in remote communities. But it also focussed on a plan for indigenous councils through to 2024. The style of presentations and debate at the ILF showed just where our first nations council are at: a digital future, smart libraries, economic development, training programs to develop local capacity and boost employment. I should also acknowledge the attendance of the State Opposition’s spokesman for Indigenous Partnerships Dr Christian Rowan who sat through the most of the first day simply listening to what indigenous elected members had to say. Well done, Dr Rowan, and thank you.

The cherry on top of the week was the win of the Mighty Maroons and it can't go unsaid how many young indigenous men played on both teams.

Finally, a big pat on the back to two staff members Nicole Johnson and Gabrielle Dorward who spent an hour of their own time after work trying to deliver left over food from the first day to a charitable organisation. It is something we do as a matter of course. Nicole is an old Cairns kid so she set off to find Rosie’s mobile canteen on the Esplanade only to learn the service had closed. Undeterred, they walked the length of Sheridan Street trying to find a charity, any charity. Fortuitously they inquired in a local watering hole the Barrier Reef Hotel as to where they could deposit the tucker, not only did the publican tell them where the Salvos were located, he took pity on them lumping big boxes and gave them $20 for a taxi. Said food was delivered to the underprivileged. Well done, ladies.

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006

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