Legislative Council: Wednesday, October 19, 2022


World Indigenous People's Conference on Education

The Hon. T.T. NGO (14:32): My question—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. N.J. Centofanti: I think he needs to withdraw that.

The PRESIDENT: You can withdraw that, if you like.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I withdraw, sir.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you.

The Hon. T.T. NGO: My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Will the minister inform the council on the World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education held in Adelaide last month?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:33): I thank the honourable member for his question; I'm happy to do so.

The Hon. N.J. Centofanti interjecting:


The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I will wait for the withdrawal.

The PRESIDENT: Would you like to withdraw that?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I withdraw that comment.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I thank the honourable member for his question and his longstanding interest in the area of Indigenous affairs, and indeed Indigenous education. This event, which was held in Adelaide from 26 to 30 September, is the largest and most diverse Indigenous education conference anywhere on earth. Its attendees include many Indigenous education experts, practitioners, scholars, students and communities from right around the globe.

The first World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education, or WIPCE for short, was held in Vancouver, Canada, in 1987. The opening day attracted some 1,500 delegates from 17 countries who gathered at this very first event. Other locations for this global First Nations event have included Toronto, Hawaii and Peru.

This was the 12th WIPCE event. Due to the local and global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a little longer in the making than the usual triennial cycle, with the event originally scheduled to be held in 2020.

I recall approximately six years ago having a meeting with South Australian Aboriginal education leader, Professor Peter Buckskin, and the international representative of WIPCE to, at the time, discuss Adelaide potentially being shortlisted as a location for the future event. It has been six long years of anticipation in the making before this event finally in 2022 was proudly hosted by South Australia.

The theme for this year's WIPCE conference was Indigenous Education Sovereignty: Our Voices, Our Futures. This event featured seven Indigenous keynote speakers addressing WIPCE on sovereignty, voice, youth and futures, along with over 300 workshops run, led by and attended by First Nations educators from around the globe. I am informed that there was something like 2,500 delegates not just around the world but around Australia in attendance.

The event was hosted by two South Australian Aboriginal community-controlled organisations—the South Australian Aboriginal Education and Training Consultative Council and Tauondi College. I had the honour to open and be the keynote speaker at the education dinner at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on the Wednesday of the WIPCE conference, with approximately 1,200 delegates in attendance.

It was a distinct pleasure to welcome the 1,200 delegates, half of the total attendees who were at the dinner, to talk about the fact that in Australia we have the oldest educators and teachers anywhere on earth, noting that, as the oldest living culture on the planet, the traditions and cultures that are handed down form the oldest knowledge and education system we have on this planet, and that is replicated for Indigenous peoples in their own countries the world over.

It was also an opportunity to show appreciation for the many community members who made WIPCE happen, those who have been involved in Aboriginal education in South Australia, in particular Professor Peter Buckskin, who is a tremendous leader and advocate for Aboriginal people, particularly in the area of education, having started as a school teacher, a school superintendent, an adviser to federal and state governments, of both political persuasions—I guess a fitting career highlight to be the person who was instrumental in having the World Indigenous Peoples' Education Conference held in Adelaide.

It was also a good opportunity to speak to a number of other Indigenous leaders from around the world, such as Mikael Mikaelson, who is a member of the Sámi Parliament of Norway, an Indigenous-elected parliament, and it was a great opportunity to speak to him and hear experiences as an Indigenous person in an Indigenous parliament, and its role to promote and preserve culture and self-determination. I would like to thank those who hosted, put on, and in particular did so much work as to have such a successful and well run conference in Adelaide, and I look forward to WIPCE returning to Australia and hopefully to Adelaide again some time soon.