Cynthia Lui reflects on the meaning of Reconciliation Week


Victoria Stone-Meadows


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The member for Cook in the Queensland state parliament. Image: Supplied.

Last Week saw Australians around the country reflect on the relationships between non-indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for Reconciliation Week.

Originally from the tiny Yam Island in the Torres Strait, State member for Cook, Cynthia Lui, is the first Torres Strait Islander to be elected to any parliament.

She said Reconciliation Week is an important step in the psyche of all Australians and a necessary part of healing as a nation.

“It has different meaning to different people and, if you had asked me 10 or 15 years ago, I would have said it’s just tokenistic,” she said. 

“But since being part of a government that is committed to First Nations’ affairs and working closely with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as well as non-indigenous, I know we are all part this great unique country.

“It’s so important we embrace and respect our cultural differences.”

She said Reconciliation Week and other initiatives that recognise and respect indigenous culture is important or all Australians.

She said every little bit helps to bring Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people closer together.

“I honestly believe there can be reconciliation but it needs to be worked out,” she said.

“It needs to be about accepting the events of the past as that it is all part and parcel of this nation’s history.

“It’s also about creating new meaning and what society needs to be so we can work together and accept each other and build what society should be.”

Ms Lui said the challenges facing First Nation’s people are many and varied and there is no simple answer to fix all the problems at once.

“I know and work with so many different organisations all with different action plans all wanting to make a difference,” she said.

“We need to address institutional racism because it does happen and we need to create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in any workforce. 

“Creating these opportunities will grow the economic might of Queensland as a state and it’s all going to come back to people being able to live equally and respectfully.”

She hopes by being the first Torres Strait Islander woman in any parliament, she can inspire the young people of Cook to become leaders in their communities as well.

She said she was inspired to pursue a leadership role by Quandamooka Woman and Parliamentary Minister, Leeanne Enoch.

“It all comes back to embracing each other and embracing the strengths of First Nations people,” she said.

“There are a lot of young leaders aspiring to do the same things, I was encouraged by Leeanne Enoch and there is a significant meaning behind that.

“Reconciliation and inspiration from First Nation people make you believe in yourself and that hope is always better and stronger for tomorrow.”

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