THE Governor of Queensland, Her Excellency Dr Jeannette Young, has spoken highly of Cape York after spending a week in the region visiting our communities.
Accompanied by her husband, Professor Alan Nimmo, Dr Young visited Weipa, Napranum, Mapoon, Aurukun and Lockhart River as part of a Vice-Regal tour.
“It was such a great trip,” she said in a sit-down interview with Cape York Weekly on Saturday.
“The highlights were actually speaking to the Elders, which was really fascinating.
“Boy, they’ve got some stories; some really heart-wrenching ones.
“Some of them were difficult to hear, but they were so lovely and, if I could put it this way, forgiving of things that have happened not that long ago – in my lifetime.
“I think there’s real hope for reconciliation and I can see how communities here live together so beautifully.”
The children also received a special mention.
Her Excellency visited schools in every community she visited, often reading them stories and answering questions about her role.
“The kids – they are the most gorgeous, gorgeous children,” she said with a beaming smile.
“I got to most schools in the places I visited and I got to open a new Learning Centre over at Lockhart River, which was lovely.
“I was appreciative of their time because there was Sorry Business happening at the time.”
The Governor said she learned a lot, especially at the funeral for Waal Waal Chevathun in Aurukun.
“The respect that people pay to someone who has died … that was quite eye-opening to me,” she said.
“So I think back in Caucasian culture and, in some ways, I don’t think we respect our elders enough.
“I can really see the importance of that and how the Elders hold communities together.”
Famous prior to taking on the royal ambassador duties as the Queensland chief health officer, Her Excellency made it a priority to visit as many health workers as possible throughout her visit.
She stopped in at the Napranum clinic, the RFDS clinic in Lockhart River and the Weipa Hospital.
“What I enjoy about this role is that it’s given me permission to talk to everyone,” she said.
“I can go up and say hello to anyone that’s in a room and find their stories. And people share their stories with me.
“Because I was chief health officer and so visible, people already feel like they know me, which is so delightful because then it’s already broken the ice.”
While in the Cape, the Governor was also able to thank the mayors and community leaders for their role in keeping the region safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her Excellency, who played a key role, said the Cape did well to keep the virus out for two years.
“My view, from the start of the pandemic was always: let’s do our absolute best to keep the virus out for as long as we can to get everyone vaccinated and, most important of all, for the most vulnerable communities,” she said.
“I met once a week via teleconference – with the Premier chairing the meeting – with every single mayor (in the Cape), and they were wonderful to work with. The police up here were also brilliant.”