Consider your influence and your impact: IPAA Queensland’s 2020 CEO/YP Breakfast

IPAA Queensland was delighted to host nearly 600 public purpose workers at its flagship annual Chief Executives & Young Professionals Breakfast this week at the iconic Brisbane City Hall.

Professionals from across state, local and federal Governments, consulting and university sectors converged to hear about IPAA Queensland’s 2020 theme and the day’s topic It’s Time. Keeping focused on reconciliation’.

IPAA Queensland President, Ian Stewart AO introduced our theme for 2020:

Reframing relationships: Partnerships, community and empowerment in public purpose work

Ian continued:

“Relationships, for example, between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – the focus of this event – between government and the community sector, universities and industry, and increasingly not just national but international.”

“Public purpose work cannot be done effectively by any one organisation or agency, or indeed by any one sector – none of us alone is sufficient. Our strength is unity of purpose, great leadership and respect for those we engage and serve.”

“It’s only through the collective efforts of each of our sectors – whether public, not-for-profit, private, universities and professional bodies – that we can realise the kind of impactful change we’re seeking to make for our clients, communities and citizens.”

“But do we need to re-frame or re-set these relationships to have these impacts?

After these remarks, Professor Megan Davis took to the stage to deliver a powerful, sobering and yet inspiring address about the process of reconciliation to date, the barriers to progress, and the importance of the formation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Some key insights Professor Davis shared include:

“Globally, the literature tells us reconciliation cannot start without two pillars being addressed: truth and justice. That is what I want to talk about today.”

“The idea of a voice to parliament is simply to enhance the participation of Indigenous populations in policy making and bringing them to the table.”

We want all Australians to agree that Indigenous people have a say in the policies that affect our lives.

“Uluru is a path to peace.”

“We have to get used to conducting referendums and changing our constitution – it was never meant to stay the same.”

“This is about an agreement about the way forward. Reconciliation is a constant process…so let’s talk and move forward.”

The breakfast also provided an opportunity for attendees to reflect and consider Professor Davis’ messages in the context of their own organisations via table discussions with their colleagues.

Following table discussions, award-winning journalist Kerry O’Brien and Dr Chris Sarra, Director-General, Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships joined Professor Davis on stage in a frank, passionate and lively discussion about the role all peoples play in the path to reconciliation. Several compelling insights were shared by the panellists in the discussion.

“If we are going to have reconciliation – it needs to include both Indigenous and non-Indigenous coming together.” – Kerry O’Brien

 “If every person in this room, in their position of influence, were committed, and all walked out of this room taking a genuine path to reconciliation – imagine the impact that will have…” – Kerry O’Brien

 “Reconciliation processes require the heart, the mind and the hand – and our work with Thriving Communities is a way for us to approach this work across our state.” – Dr Chris Sarra

 “The dialogue between generations in Australia is very important. In order to bring others on the journey – tell them why it is important to you.” – Kerry O’Brien

 “Ignorance breeds prejudice and fear…People are waiting to be shown the directions.” – Kerry O’Brien

 “It is worth remembering as individuals, we make up the system.” – Dr Chris Sarra

 “[Events like this] help us ‘flick the switch’ in our own heads. If we come to grips with the truth,have a deeper perspective as to who Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are, we can have those shifts happen from within. Events like this trigger a cognitive shift, enable us to open our minds.   This is really about our heads, our hearts and what we do with our hands. At some point you will become senior executives, and you control the switch and the extent to which you see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People having the capacity to work across departments at all levels.” – Dr Chris Sarra

If you haven’t yet read the Uluru Statement of the Heart, check out the statement here and consider what you can do to contribute to reconciliation. How might you reframe your public purpose work relationships to take reconciliation forward?

The CEO and YP Breakfast signals and amplifies IPAA Queensland’s purpose and mission. We promote and enhance the professionalism, capability and integrity of public administration and pride in service.

If you’re a public servant or engaged in public purpose work, we encourage you to get to know and connect with IPAA Queensland. Find out more about us by reading more on our site or through joining as a member here.

Build connections. Challenge your thinking. Keep informed. It’s your IPAA.