The Queensland racing industry will celebrate NAIDOC Week in 2020 as part of its commitment to strengthening relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
To mark the occasion, Racing Queensland has programmed a showcase race across each code to shine a light on NAIDOC Week. They are:
- Thursday, November 12 – RQ NAIDOC Celebration Chase (Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club);
- Saturday, November 14 – RQ NAIDOC Celebration Race (Brisbane Racing Club); and
- Saturday, November 14 – RQ NAIDOC Celebration Pace (Albion Park Harness Racing Club).
Each showcase meeting will feature Indigenous ceremonial aspects including a Welcome to Country; Smoking Ceremony; and didgeridoo player.
Queensland racing industry participants will also be involved through specially commissioned handlers and strappers’ bibs, saddle cloths, harness helmet covers, harness colours and winners’ presentation rugs.
At the conclusion of each race, the winning connections of each code will receive a NAIDOC Week Trophy.
Earlier this year, RQ submitted its inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan to Reconciliation Australia, which was recently endorsed.
Over the next 12 months, RQ will use its RAP to formally embark on the journey of reconciliation.
The RAP will provide the foundation for RQ to build trust and strengthen relationships both internally and externally; deepen its understanding and respect for First People’s rich history, cultures and achievements; and to promote sustainable partnerships and opportunities with local communities.
“As a sport, racing has long understood the power it possesses to unite communities and engender hope across Queensland,” Racing Queensland Chairman Steve Wilson AM said.
“In addition to being one of Queensland’s largest employers – providing more than 12,500 full-time jobs – our racing clubs and racecourses serve as important social hubs from Cooktown to Stanthorpe and everywhere in between.
“And as we continue to operate, we are constantly striving to create respectful relationships and to provide enhanced opportunities for Indigenous peoples and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to become involved in the Queensland racing industry.
“The launch of our Reconciliation Action Plan is an important step in that journey.”
Earlier this year, Darby McCarthy, the state’s most well known Indigenous jockey, was posthumously inducted as a Queensland Great for his feats in and out of the saddle.
A proud descendant of the Mithika people, McCarthy was one of 13 children and was born in the sandhills outside of Cunnamulla in western Queensland, who would go on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career after riding across the world.
Crowned champion of the Queensland apprentice jockey school in 1960 and 1961, McCarthy would go on to win some of the state’s biggest features including a Brisbane Cup and the Doomben 10,000.
At present, 12.5% of Queensland apprentices identify as Indigenous, with RQ looking to provide further opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.