Ambassador for First Nations People, Justin Mohamed, visits North Queensland Land Council
Last Friday, 16 June, the North Queensland Land Council (NQLC) welcomed Australia’s inaugural Ambassador for First Nations People, Mr. Justin Mohamed, to their Head office in Cairns.
Leading the office of First Nations Engagement in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ambassador Mohamed and his team will work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to progress Indigenous rights globally and help grow First Nations trade and investment.
NQLC Chairperson, Richard Hoolihan expressed gratitude for Ambassador Mohamed’s visit and emphasized the significance of engaging with the Traditional Owners of North Queensland, ‘It is important that the voices of North Queensland communities are being heard and that the Traditional Owners of our region are made aware of the opportunities available to them on an international level. I look forward to collaborating with him to promote opportunities for indigenous businesses wishing to explore opportunities domestically and internationally. Stimulating economic development in a range of enterprises in markets that benefit all’.
Leon Yeatman, NQLC Chief Executive Officer, also conveyed his appreciation to the Ambassador for his visit, citing the positive introduction recently at the AIATSIS Native Title Summit in Perth and to progress agenda in our space. Leon also mentioned the importance of having dedicated Indigenous representative at Diplomatic level, to promote our voice on First Nations agenda, in particular through Australia’s international engagements. ‘At ground level, we see a desperate need to connect our issues to other Indigenous forums and seek to secure opportunities or direct linkages for our Traditional Owners. NQLC has assisted 54 native title claims to determination and we will continue to work for and represent the native title holders of our region, post determination. This includes seeking opportunities for native title holders to be able to leverage their native title rights and interests so their communities can benefit culturally, socially and economically’.
Mr. Mohamed highlighted the support he has from Senator the Honourable Penny Wong and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Although there has been significant work in the past, he is the first to officially hold a position dedicated to First Nations interests. ‘During this week, I have made an effort to connect with as many First Nations agencies and I have been very thankful for the reception I received. Cairns region is a very beautiful place’. The Ambassador post is Canberra based and will seek to link nationally on all fronts.
NQLC look forward to a continued relationship with the office of First Nations Engagement and hopes this prompts further collaboration between other government departments and native title representative bodies/service providers moving forward.