One long-standing NAIDOC Week fixture in Canberra is a touch football carnival for public servants and this year the Attorney-General’s Department came out on top, while Australian Public Service commissioner Peter Woolcott pulled on a jersey and challenged other agency heads to do the same.
The APS Commission brings word that AGD’s champion footy team won “bragging rights” over 29 other government agencies, running in six tries to four against last year’s champions from the Department of Parliamentary Services.
The Department of Finance beat the Australian Federal Police, seven tries to four, to win the second division of the tournament. The Department of Social Services won division three, thrashing the Australian Bureau of Statistics with a scoreline of eight tries to four.
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science won the team spirit award for exemplifying a good on-field attitude and respect for other players and referees.
“Now in its 17th year, the carnival raises awareness of and celebrates the history, cultures, achievements and continuing contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the public service,” the APSC said in a statement.
A Welcome to Country from Ngunnawal Elder Aunty Jude Barlow opened the carnival, which has become one of the largest NAIDOC Week events in the capital. This year 450 public servants took the field including Woolcott, who encouraged other agency heads to get involved next year.
“The annual NAIDOC touch football competition is an opportunity for public servants, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to build valuable relationships and learn from one another,” Woolcott said.
“The Australian Public Service has a proud history of supporting NAIDOC Week and listening to and promoting better understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.”
Any department heads who want to take up the commissioner’s challenge in 2020 need only get in touch with the carnival’s founder and organiser, Cris Castro, an executive with the Department of Education.
“Sport plays an important role in modern culture, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There are so many talented Indigenous athletes out there, who are fantastic role models for our youth,” said Castro.
The organiser said he was impressed by the creativity of this year’s uniforms and explained the meaning behind the art that his team wore.
“The Department of Education’s jersey was designed by Anmatjere and Alyawarra employee Bianca Brim and represents clans meeting to tell their stories, their connection to land and the hope that government will listen and work with Indigenous Australians for a shared future.”
Canberra Raiders players Joey Leilua and Brad Abbey also came along on behalf of the team to support the event, which was organised jointly by the Department of Education, the APS Commission and Touch Football ACT.