MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (11:41): This week is NAIDOC Week. This year’s theme is ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’, recognising that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65 000 years. I think it is fitting during NAIDOC Week to share with the chamber the 2020 recipients of the Lynne Kosky Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in vocational education, those being Geraldine Atkinson and Lionel Bamblett. Geraldine and Lionel have dedicated their lives to expanding opportunities for First Nations people through education and training. Geraldine has been the elected president of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated, VAEAI, since 1999. In this role Geraldine has been instrumental in developing and formalising key policies and strategies in Koori education and training in Victoria—strategies such as the Wurreker strategy and the Marrung Aboriginal education plan. She continues to play a pivotal role in making sure our government places Koori students at the centre of education and training policy and decision-making.
Lionel has been general manager of VAEAI since 1985. He started at VAEAI with one member, and now VAEAI is thriving. In his role as general manager Lionel has provided advice to successive governments to improve education and training opportunities for Koori people in Victoria. He was instrumental in establishing two Aboriginal-controlled training providers in Victoria. Lionel has been a fierce advocate for protecting Aboriginal languages, and I am proud of the work that we have done with him and VAEAI to introduce the VET qualification in teaching an endangered Aboriginal language. We are a better government and a better state for Lionel’s and Geraldine’s work. Congratulations to Lionel and Geraldine, and I wish everyone a wonderful NAIDOC Week.