Senate debates

Tuesday, 6 October 2020


Ipswich Region

9:56 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's perhaps timely that I should give this adjournment speech following Senator Roberts, because Senator Roberts has spoken about some of the bad history of previous councils in the Ipswich region, yet I would like to talk about the Ipswich region's future.

Last month my office, in fact, moved to within the area of Ipswich regional council. Ipswich is one of Australia's most historic cities. It was founded in 1824 and was named in 1843. The school I went to, Ipswich Grammar School, was actually the first secondary school established in the state of Queensland. A new council was elected this year. Senator Roberts has referred to some of the issues with the previous councils. I actually would like to pay tribute to all those members of Ipswich City Council, including employees, who blew the whistle on previous practices—

Senator Roberts interjecting

'Hear, hear,' Senator Roberts says—I acknowledge that interjection. I also pay tribute to all of the great people in the Ipswich community who stood up to those practices. Justice has now been done. It is now time to move forward. Ipswich has a new regional council and Ipswich has a new senator based in the region. I'm delighted to be there.

Ipswich has an extremely exciting future in front of it. There is extraordinary growth occurring in the region. The population grew by 4.1 per cent between 2018 and 2019 and is expected to grow to 558,000 residents by 2041. My office is located in the city of Springfield, within the Ipswich regional council area, and Springfield itself encapsulates everything great about this country. A great Australian by the name of Maha Sinnathamby, who is chair of Springfield Land Corporation, looked upon vacant land and saw a city. He saw a city and then went about building it. Just as Michelangelo looked at a piece of marble and saw a statue, Maha Sinnathamby looked at vacant land—bush—and saw a city and proceeded to build it. Since then, $18 billion has been invested. Springfield, Australia's second master plan city, already has investment in education, technology, health, defence services and the arts. It is an extremely livable city, and it's an absolute joy to have my office located there.

Last weekend, an event occurred which sums up the future of Ipswich—not the past, which Senator Roberts referred to, but the future—and I was delighted to participate. On Saturday, I attended the sod-turning for a new STEM building at the Hymba Yumba Independent School, which received $2 million in support from the federal government. Just to give you a feeling for this event, I thought I might walk through the agenda. Hopefully, I can give you some sort of appreciation of what a great event it was.

First, there was an acknowledgement and welcome to country from patron Uncle Albert Holt. Uncle Albert Holt is a great Australian—a great Indigenous Australian. A respected Aboriginal elder from Inala in Brisbane's south-west, he grew up at the Cherbourg mission in my home state of Queensland after his family were forcibly removed from their home. He overcame that adversity to become a respected role model. Towards the end of 2001, Uncle Albert Holt retired from his full-time work. His last job was, in fact, as a police liaison officer, and he served in that role for more than seven years. He then went about driving a vision for the creation of this school, the Hymba Yumba Independent School. 'Hymba' means development of skills in listening, reflecting, evaluating and planning. 'Yumba' means building and support for learning. The school started. Uncle Albert Holt's vision was realised in 2011, with 50 jarjums. That's how they refer to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are students—jarjums. They were being taught in rented premises. Now, in 2020, there are 213 jarjums and growing, now based in beautiful premises in Springfield. When Uncle Albert Holt was speaking about his passion for education, it reminded me of the great Neville Bonner, who preceded me in this place as a Liberal senator from my home state of Queensland and who was also based in the Ipswich region.

After Uncle Albert Holt's welcome and acknowledgement of country, a choir then performed—the junior choir from the Hymba Yumba school. The choir participants were Yvonne Jones, Kahlani Jones, Talaii Brady, Tameeya Brady and Summah Wylie-Coolwell. They sang the Australian national anthem in the Yugambeh language, and it was just beautiful—absolutely beautiful.

Principal Peter Foster then set out the vision for the school: respect for self, respect for elders, respect for family, and respect for community and country. He described how it's become a really special place, and I must say that the first time I attended the school I felt that. I really felt that I was in a special place, with this holistic education. The commitment is that all graduates from this school are either earning or learning. A senator then gave an address, and we can pass over that! Minister Wyatt then spoke by videoconference, and how special it was for our first Indigenous Indigenous affairs minister to speak to those kids and for them to see him by video! He promised to visit the school once restrictions had been lessened.

Then we had the opportunity to put our hands in the concrete to leave a lasting impression, as this school will leave a lasting impression on the students who attend it. I got to put my hands in the concrete with elder Uncle Albert Holt and also with the school captain, Jahmarlah Bonner, great-granddaughter of Neville Bonner. How proud would he be—a man who came to serve in this place with barely two or three years of formal education—to see his great-granddaughter as school captain of the Hymba Yumba Independent School and on the way to university? How proud would he be? This is the Australia he dreamed of, which is there in living reality at the Hymba Yumba Independent School.

I'd like to pay tribute to the members of the board: Mrs Karla Brady, the chair; Kerry Silver, the deputy chair; Stan Sielaff, the treasurer; Yvana Jones; Michael Bong; Roxanne Ware; Christine Figg; and Niel Bosman. I'd like to pay tribute to all of the staff, past and present. I'd like to pay tribute to the elders and local community supporting the school, including Vivian Bonner, who was Neville Bonner's daughter-in-law. She's the community engagement officer driving that engagement with the local Indigenous communities and the broader community. I pay tribute to Springfield Land Corporation. Raynuha Sinnathamby, the managing director, was in attendance. Her father, Maha Sinnathamby, the chair of Springfield Land Corporation, had education at the core of his vision for Springfield, and you can see that at the Hymba Yumba Independent School.

I'd also like to pay tribute to the builders of the STEM building, which is currently under construction. It was quite inspiring to have representatives there from Hutchinson Builders, a great Queensland company, established in 1912—'Hutchies', as we call it in Queensland. They weren't just constructing a building; they were taking the opportunity to show the Indigenous kids: 'This is what we do. This is what you could do. These are the sorts of opportunities open to you.' They were broadening their horizons. It was quite outstanding. I pay tribute to Deicke Richards, a design firm, the architects who designed this beautiful building, nestled in its environment, and everyone else involved in this project in the Hymba Yumba community.

If you seek hope, if you seek inspiration and if you seek a raising of the spirits in these hard times then go to Hymba Yumba school in Springfield, a place where education is transforming the lives of our Indigenous children.