The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (15:11): I am very grateful for the opportunity to inform the house about the very positive events that happened in and around Port Augusta for NAIDOC Week just recently. It is an absolutely outstanding nationwide celebration of Aboriginal and Islander people—our traditional and Indigenous First Australians. When I travel around my electorate and other places, it is a pleasure for me to recognise Aboriginal people as the First Australians.
This week is very important and very special. I particularly want to commend the organising committee in Port Augusta, which put on a fantastic program throughout the week. I was able to attend some of it but not all of it. I think that, over the past eight or 10 years, I have probably attended every one of the different events at one time or other, but only went to a few of them in any single NAIDOC Week.
This year, I was able to get to the celebratory breakfast in Port Augusta’s Gladstone Square, which was a lovely coming together of local people and organisations, some government departments, some service clubs and some non-government organisations. There was a wide range of people, and it was lovely to see Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people there enjoying a breakfast together. There was a sausage sizzle and some fantastic pancakes on offer and a range of other treats for young and old. It was a really lovely day and we were very fortunate to have good weather.
I was also able to attend the NAIDOC Ball, which I have done before. I encourage members to get to a NAIDOC Ball if they ever have the opportunity, as it is a lovely, fun celebration. One of the best things about the NAIDOC Ball is that it is typically the very last event of NAIDOC Week, so it is a celebration, a knees-up and an opportunity to relax. Most importantly, it is an opportunity for the people who have worked so hard throughout that week, and in the months prior to the event, as key organisers to relax. These are the key people who put forward the NAIDOC Week celebrations and it is their chance, at the last event, to actually relax and let their hair down.
It was great fun. We had fantastic food, wine and soft drinks at the tremendous new Central Oval facility in Port Augusta. Everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and it was a lovely night of people getting together, having fun and celebrating. That is one of the fantastic things about NAIDOC Week. There are two key aspects: one is to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within every community in Australia and the other is for everybody to celebrate together the important part that they play in our communities and the important place they have in our history, our present and into the future. It was a tremendous celebration.
There were other types of events. I mentioned what is officially called the NAIDOC Ball, but there is always a mini ball, which is one of my favourites. I have been fortunate enough to attend that twice before, where the real littlies come together for a fantastic night. It is a pleasure for these young boys and girls to get dressed up, to have sashes, to be recognised, to learn at a very young age how much fun it can be for them to publicly embrace and share their culture and be very proud of who they are. Of course, it is wonderful for their parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents to be there with them, to see them do that, to encourage them and to share that pride with them.
Then, of course, there is the junior ball, which is targeted more towards teenagers. It is a good fun night out for them. They can get dressed up and engage in music, food and dancing together. Regardless of where you are or what your background, for any teenager that is a bit of a rite of passage to enjoy those sorts of things. It is very special for them to get to do that in NAIDOC Week.
Right at the beginning of NAIDOC Week there was what I think was probably the most important NAIDOC event of the week this year in Port Augusta’s program. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the event because of cabinet. In fact, I considered missing cabinet for it, but that was not possible as I had submissions to put forward. The event was a very well-attended awards breakfast, recognising people from across Port Augusta and the surrounding districts who have made a really serious, genuine and important contribution to our community. I commend those award winners and I commend the NAIDOC Week organisers for their work.