By April Murphy
Nineteen inspiring businesses, community groups, educational institutions and government entities have been named finalists in the 2021 Queensland Reconciliation Awards, acknowledging their achievements and contributions toward reconciliation, diversity and inclusivity.
The 2021 finalists include organisations helping to close the gap by improving access to health services, schools championing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and businesses increasing cultural competency training and employing more First Nations people.
Ahead of National Reconciliation Week, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the initiatives of the 2021 finalists promote and enhance reconciliation in their communities.
“Queenslanders continue to pave the path toward reconciliation, amplifying First Nations voices and creating a fairer, more respectful state,” the premier said.
Ms Palaszczuk stated that the finalists for the awards represent the best of the state. People are coming together to improve the understanding of this country’s history and cultural heritage, connect communities, create growth opportunities, and build respectful relationships between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and non-Indigenous peoples.
The premier congratulated all the finalists in 2021 and thanked everyone who submitted nominations for their commitment to education, connection and healing.
The Minister for Seniors, Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford congratulated finalists in the Health and wellbeing category – a new category in 2021.
“After a year of strengthened partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, communities and government working together to keep Queenslanders safe and healthy, it’s fitting that a Health and wellbeing category has been added to the Queensland Reconciliation Awards,” Mr Crawford said.
The Health and wellbeing category recognises the work of businesses, charities and community groups to optimise health responses and help close the gap between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians, so more Queenslanders, families and communities have the opportunity to thrive.
“This year, we have selected three finalists – Ronald McDonald House Charities North Australia, Wheels of Wellness and Bama Services – whose programs and initiatives are enhancing access to medical treatments, mental health support and preventative services,” says Mr Crawford.
The Minister for Seniors stated that from health and environment to education and employment, actions to support reconciliation across all sectors and industries are essential as we progress a Path to Treaty towards a more inclusive and just future for Queensland.
Queensland Reconciliation Awards Ambassador Johnathan Thurston said he had been greatly encouraged by the diversity and innovation of nominations.
“Seeing Queenslanders working towards a more respectful and dynamic community is gratifying, and I am continuously struck by this in my role as Awards Ambassador,” Mr Thurston said.
The former NRL footballer stated that hearing about the varied initiatives taking place, most especially the initiatives making a difference in schools and educational institutions, highlights the caring nature of Queenslanders and their want to improve their community.
The 2021 Queensland Reconciliation Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Townsville this June, coinciding with National Reconciliation Week.
Winning initiatives across the categories of business, community, education, health and wellbeing, partnership and the Premier’s Reconciliation Award receive a share of $30,000 in prize money.
The Queensland Reconciliation Awards is an initiative of the Queensland Government through the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.
The awards are supported by the Queensland University of Queensland, the Queensland University of Technology, James Cook University, and Santos.