Celebrating Ancient Cultures – DNRME and IPAA Webinar

During NAIDOC Week 2020, IPAA Queensland was pleased to partner again with the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy for their Speaker Series on 13 November. This year’s NAIDOC WEEK theme – Always Was, Always Will Be – recognises that First Nations peoples have occupied and cared for this continent for more than 65,000 years.

It was fitting that this event, a live streamed webinar, featured Torres Strait Islander Elder Aunty Rose Elu, speaking on Celebrating our ancient culture.  Dr Elu shared stories of her ancient culture and her spiritual and cultural connection to country.

The day prior, Aunty Rose was awarded Queensland Senior Australian of the Year 2021 in recognition of her decades-long advocacy work for her Torres Strait Islander communities.

About Aunty Rose

Aunty Rose is from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait, but grew up on the island of Seisia off the northern tip of Queensland. She left Saibai with her family in 1948, a year after king tides caused serious damage to properties and gardens across the island. This experience shaped her passion and advocacy for addressing climate change.

A tireless advocate for her community, Aunty Rose has been a tireless campaigner with an unwavering vision to bring change to better the lives of children and families. Her life has been spent committed to reconciliation and sharing traditional practices of her people at local, state and federal levels. She was instrumental in negotiations to legally recognise the traditional customary adoption practices of Torres Strait Islander families which led to the introduction of a landmark bill to the Queensland Parliament.

Since 1980, Aunty Rose has been drawing global attention to the impact of climate change on the Torres Strait, including speaking at the United Nations and to business and political leaders. As a member of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, she advocates for renewable energy and sustainable methods of production. Aunty Rose also provides a central translation for Torres Strait Islander communities to help them access services and lobbies for funding to support community capacity building.

Aunty Rose holds many positions within the Anglican Church, including as a member of the Diocesan Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, as Churchwarden and Synod Representative for the Torres Strait Non-Geographic Parish, as an executive member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council, and as a family support counsellor with Anglicare.

She earned a BA in Anthropology and Political Science from the University of Queensland and a PhD on Customary Law from the University of Hawaii.

During the webinar, Aunty Rose shared stories of her life and community work and responded to questions about culture, reconciliation, determination day, traditional adoption practices, and international advocacy work.

Moderator Melanie Meredith

Melanie is a proud Kamilaroi Papuan Woman who works in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Futures team at DNRME, moderated the discussion. As Melanie noted, the Speaker Series provides opportunities for DNRME staff to listen to leading edge thinking to challenge the way they operate and grow as an organisation and to listen to diverse and challenging perspectives that aren’t part of their day to day lives. These thought leaders provide diverse and challenging perspectives, deliver provocative presentations and test conventional thinking about ongoing challenges and opportunities facing government.

To view the full webinar, click here.


About IPAA Queensland

IPAA Queensland advances the professionalism, capability and integrity of public administration and public purpose work and promotes 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.

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