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Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School Class of 2020 reception


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Cammeraygal People of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Welcome, all, to Admiralty House. Linda and I are delighted to have you here.

It’s my first ‘Class of 2020’ event as Patron of Engineering Aid Australia.

And I am a proud patron at that, as I believe strongly in the transformative power of the Indigenous Australian Engineering Schools and education per se. I also want to acknowledge the wonderful contribution made by former patron, the late Bob Hawke, to the success of this program.

In March of last year, in this very room, former program participant Giwan-gallani Mendez Williams said: 'Aboriginal people were the first engineers of this land. We are innovators, radical thinkers, survivors and problem solvers.’

Innovators and problem solvers — if you can innovate and solve problems, you will do well in life.

Take a look out the window — engineering is on show at every turn.

  • on planes, trains and automobiles
  • on boats and bridges
  • in buildings and utilities.

And in the wake of the bushfire crisis, it will be engineers who play an important role in reconstruction efforts.

You have chosen well, you have displayed an aptitude for maths and science, and all that is left now is for you to throw yourself into your studies and get your qualification.

For more than 20 years EAA has, quite literally, been ‘building futures’. It’s a win for Indigenous high school students who, with a clear pathway, get stuck into their studies and go on to do engineering at university. And it’s a win for the community at large, as infrastructure knows no finite end.

To that end, I congratulate Engineering Aid Australia on developing a program that helps young Indigenous people to realise their potential.

You continue to kick goals.

  • The program is now into its 23rd year.
  • During that time, about 800 Indigenous students have graduated from the week-long schools in Sydney and Perth, with nearly all having returned to school.
  • The number of applicants, especially girls, increases each year.
  • And, right now, 52 students from the program are studying Engineering at universities across Australia.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of sponsors from the engineering, mining, construction and infrastructure sectors, and private supporters.

Your support, along with the important role played by mentors, enables EAA to inspire Indigenous Australians to build their future by assisting them to complete High School and enter university.

To the students — today’s reception is a great opportunity for you to get to know the senior executive of Engineering Aid Australia’s Partnering Companies and Foundations. Introduce yourself, make connections and ask questions — these people have invested in you and want to see you do well.

Congratulations on getting to summer school and for staking a claim in an engineering career.

As engineers, you will be part of the biggest project of all — building a stronger nation.

Good luck.