“Commitment Statement to Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples” launched
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 5, 5 July 2019, page no. 16
On 6 June, the Department of Education (DoE) launched its “Commitment Statement to Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples”. At the launch, Director-General Tony Cook said the statement “is a call to action for our entire workforce”.
The department developed the statement in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and community members from across the state. Gandu Jarjum members Amanda Power, Letitia Choppy, Penny Taylor, Peter Lubke and Rachel Bos were active participants in this process.
In August last year, the department hosted a workshop at which an early draft was presented and explored, with rigorous feedback being provided leading to significant re-shaping. The department’s commitment to having our voices at the table and ensuring that teacher-aides, teachers, departmental officers and community education counsellors, as well as their unions, had a role in shaping the statement should be acknowledged and celebrated.
The launch was a very special occasion. As contributing members of the department’s working party, Amanda Power, Penny Taylor, Peter Lubke and Rachel Bos were invited to the launch. They shared this special occasion with QTU President Kevin Bates and General-Secretary Graham Moloney.
The statement commits the entire workforce to delivering aspirational, educational, economic and social outcomes. It recognises that everyone has a role in ensuring cultural safety and aims to create workplaces that value, include and support Aboriginal employees and Torres Strait Islander employees.
The words in the statement are important, as this is a call to action, not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees, but for all employees and the education community as a whole.
For me as a teacher, this statement shows that we celebrate and show pride in our culture. It acknowledges the wisdom, knowledge and experience that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people bring to the workforce and aims to become a living statement and commitment to our communities. We are part of cultural change, this is a call to action to be the cultural connectors in our communities.
The Commitment Statement is available for all workplaces, and copies will be sent to all schools with directions on how to display it.