As the local ATSIC Commissioner, and the host, if you like, for the whole event, I want to tell you that NAIDOC Week here in Townsville was the most successful ever held.
Not only is that a local impression, it is the strong impression of all the visitors we had here from around Queensland and from interstate.
NAIDOC 2000 in Townsville is now well and truly recognised as the national benchmark for NAIDOC Week Celebrations around the country.
I am very proud to say that this is well deserved recognition for the Indigenous community of this town and the region. And a deserved vote of confidence in the 30,000 Indigenous people of this town, region and all our organisations.
But even more that that, it is also a proven feather in the cap for the wider community as well, to have Townsville and the North Queensland put on such a successful national event.
Our record turnouts for the NAIDOC march and the NAIDOC ball and awards were also a huge boost to Reconciliation as well as to our own community pride.
In fact, as I said to many people after the event: the true mark of this National NAIDOC Week in Townsville is that it has left something tremendously positive behind in our community.
A feeling of pride and confidence that will last long after the event.
And I want to give you two examples of what I mean.
The first sign of this I want to mention is the record crowd of 5,000 people – black and white – who marched for Reconciliation here in Townsville on August 20.
And also the attendance at the Multicultural Festival that tied in with the march, drawing around 30,000 people.
I believe that this shows there is a fundamental shift in community attitudes underway here in North Queensland. Something I think many feared would never happen here in North Queensland. But it is and it has.
This is an edited version of a speech delivered to Pimlico TAFE, Townsville, on September 7, 2000.
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