2023 CEO/EL Breakfast Same height, same level. An Emerging Leader’s Acknowledgement of Country

“Hello, everyone.

How are you?

My name is Jenna.

I’m a Kuku Yalanji woman with connections to Mossman, Cairns, Yarrabah, Cooktown and as far north as Normanton.

I work at the Public Sector Commission in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Career Pathway Service and I’m a member of IPAA’s Emerging Leaders Working Group.

I’m grateful to be doing an Acknowledgement of Country this morning.

In opening today’s event, I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians and owners of the sacred lands our feet are placed on, the Turrbal and Jagera Peoples. Thank you for allowing us to do business on your lands, to live, to learn and to thrive each day.

I pay my deepest respect to ancestors and elders who’ve gone before us, elders who nurture and guide us today, and those who’ll be the knowledge-keepers and the caretakers.

I extend that acknowledgement and respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who join me in the room today and acknowledge the important contributions that you make in your respective roles, your teams, your agencies and, importantly, in your communities and the communities that you serve.

Acknowledgements are a declaration and an agreement that you and I are making as visitors to this land, Turrbal and Jagera land.

In doing so, I came to be on these lands more than 10 years ago, when I traveled down from my country in the Far North to pursue further education and employment. I benefit by working each day on the lands of the Turrbal and Jagera Peoples and I continue to show my respect by always acknowledging them as the sovereign owners of the land that I’m on and always leading by example.

I advocate for my people in many settings, but most relatedly within the Queensland public sector so that they can progress into senior leadership and decision-making roles in this sector.

I ask you all to consider how did you come to be here today and how do you benefit?

How do you respect and acknowledge the land your feet are placed on and how will today benefit Turrbal and Jagera Peoples and the First Peoples in the communities that you serve?

You may be familiar with the term Yarning Circle, a sacred space where stories and knowledge are shared respectfully.

As I look around the room, I see you all, senior leaders and CEOs and emerging leaders sitting in your circles. When our First People come together, we sit with each other. Same height, same level. No one is above or below. This is what we have done since time immemorial and is still practiced today.

Within our First Nation’s context, I see our CEOs and senior leaders as elders and respected leaders within the sector.

You are respected for the knowledge you hold and your leadership that you share with others. You have helped to pave the way and you hold an important role in our society, in our sectors. It is your duty and your responsibility to share that knowledge and bring others along the journey so they, too, can learn, grow, and continue to develop.

Emerging leaders I see as our next generation, a curious group of people who naturally must take their place in society in our sectors. You’ll be trusted to step into new spaces and gain the necessary knowledge required to continue influencing and, importantly, to continue this legacy.

As we sit with each other at our tables, in our circles, we listen, we share and we connect at eye level. Remember, same height, same level.

No one’s above, no one’s below.

We each have something to give, and we each have something to receive. This is where meaningful reciprocity begins.

Take a moment to look around and look at the people in your table.

Today in moving forward, let’s acknowledge that we each play an important role within our society, within our sectors, and build on the strengths of each other.

In closing, it always was, always is and always will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land.

Thank you for your time.”

This Acknowledgement of Country was delivered at the 2023 CEO/EL Breakfast by Jenna-Maree Jacob, member of IPAA Queensland Emerging Leader Working Group and Senior Program Officer with the Public Sector Commission.


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