AFL Citizenship Ceremony

Saturday 5 August 2017

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Jagara Tribal Nation, south of the Brisbane River and the Turrbal Tribal Nation, north of the Brisbane River, the traditional owners of the land we gather on today.

I grew up on the tribal nations of the Kamilaroi, Gunggari and Bidjara peoples.

In the spirit of reconciliation, I pay my respects to their ancestors and to those who have come before us and to the elders with us today.

I would also like to acknowledge:

  • Our Presiding Officer, the Honourable Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
  • Members of the officiating party –The Honourable Jackie Trad MP, Deputy Premier, Minister for Transport and Minister for Infrastructure  and Planning and Member for South Brisbane and Terri Butler MP, Federal Member for Griffith
  • Senator Anthony Chisholm, Senator for Queensland
  • Duncan Pegg MP, Member for Stretton
  • James Madden, Member for Ipswich West
  • Police Commissioner Ian Stewart
  • Bob Sharpless, Chair of Brisbane Lions
  • Gregg Swann, CEO of Brisbane Lions 
  • Dean Warren, CEO of AFL Qld
  • Kerrin Benson, CEO of MDA
  • And all our very special candidates, Board Members, Community Leaders,

Whether we migrate from town to town, state to state or country to country we all need to find the pathways for us as individuals and family to be present, to be active, to be welcomed and included in our new neighbourhoods, communities and cultural norms and in turn be welcoming and inclusive of our new neighbours into our lived experience and cultures.

Often these pathways are through the universal appreciation of sport.  Sport is often the nucleus of community the gathering point where we come together, build relationships and networks that open the doors to employment, business opportunities and being of service to our neighbourhoods, communities and society.

It is in these places and spaces we can understand and learn about each other, in doing so we can also dismantle the negative stereotypes and mythologies that might be applied to us because of our religious belief, race, sexuality, sexual identity, disability.

It is the formation of these new relationships that opens our hearts to difference and our minds quickly follow. It is where we find we have more in common than we have in difference, we find we want our children to have greater opportunities and better lives than we did, we find we want to be able to live safely and without fear of prejudice and rejection and we want to live in a society that abides by the universal decree or golden rule "treating others as one would wish to be treated" which is found throughout history, cultures and religions.

And it is here today we find ourselves on a bora ring where aboriginal people used to gather for ceremonies, dances and contests of difference. And now it is the place where sport is contested and later we will be witnessing a great game of AFL.

I would like to emphasise that it was only a little over 12 months ago at the inaugural Queensland AFL Iftar dinner in a conversation with the president of Queensland AFL Darryll Bray and the CEO of Queensland AFL Dean Warren that the idea of hosting a citizenship ceremony at an AFL game would be a great way to welcome our newest citizens. As the song title from little things big things grow suggests ideas can turn into actions with great leadership and collaboration. Of course MDA has welcoming in their DNA and it is infectious as we know their relationship and partnership with the Brisbane Lions is creating spaces where human rights can flourish for all migrants, refugees and new citizens.  I believe it is obvious that our collective efforts give meaning and life to the ADCQ mission of building a fair and inclusive Queensland.

In closing I wish to make two points, firstly, for us to have safe communities we must build inclusive communities, and secondly, Australia and Queensland in particular has become a much more robust, vibrant and plentiful place for you choosing to become citizens and I look forward to working with you to building a great and civil society in Australia and Queensland.

Kevin Cocks AM
Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland