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New uni graduates called on to help First Australians overcome systemic disadvantages

New uni graduates called on to help First Australians overcome systemic disadvantages

Published:14 December 2017

Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples. PHOTO courtesy NACCHO/Geoff Bagnall.

There's more than a grain of truth in the old cliché that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And Indigenous affairs is a "full street directory of these roads - so many good intentions, so few outcomes".

"However, we also have to expect that great things will happen, " says Dr Jackie Huggins AM, the guest speaker for CQUniversity Australia's Brisbane graduation ceremony held on Friday morning, 15 December.

"We will succeed. We will prosper, as Indigenous peoples around the world have shown they can prosper when they've been given the chance.

"Around Australia, exciting examples are already out there to see in our communities and we're ready to join the points of light."

Link here for a full text of the graduation address

Highlights of the CQUni Brisbane graduation included conferral of the honorary degree of Doctor of the University on Jackie to recognise her advocacy and contributions in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.

Dr Huggins called on new university graduates to "join us to overcome the systemic disadvantages faced by First Australians".

"If we work together we have the great opportunity to change this around. I believe it can happen in the next generation."

Dr Huggins said it must be understood that "real progress won't be made unless and until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are given real power to make decisions for ourselves".

Dr Huggins has advocated for and empowered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the last 40 years. She has made an exceptional contribution in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, particularly in the area of reconciliation, domestic and family violence, women’s issues and social justice.

Jackie served as a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group of the Queensland Centre for Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence (QCPDFV) for a total of 13 years. Her service to the Centre, which is now known as the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research and is based at CQUniversity Mackay, has ensured continued and growing success of the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Prevention Forum. The Forum attracts participants from all over Queensland and has a growing interest from people and organisations in other jurisdictions.

During her time with the Centre, Jackie offered strong leadership, guidance, advice and support to staff and was a strong advocate in standing up against domestic, family and community violence. Jackie resigned from her role with the Centre to enable her to devote more time to the national Indigenous agenda and was subsequently elected as Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. This key position enables Jackie to represent Indigenous peoples at a national level and advocate the national Indigenous agenda.

Jackie has worked voluntarily on numerous projects which have assisted in addressing injustices and inequities in relation to Indigenous peoples and communities. Jackie is a former Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia and the former Chair of the Queensland Domestic Violence Council. She has also been a member of the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Council, and Co-Commissioner for Queensland for the Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal Children.

In 2001, Jackie was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her service to the Indigenous community, particularly in the area of reconciliation, literacy, women's issues and social justice. She has published a wide range of essays and studies dealing with Indigenous history and identity, and is the author of Sistergirl (University of Queensland Press, 1998), and co-author, with Rita Huggins, of the critically acclaimed biography Auntie Rita (Aboriginal Studies Press, 1994).