Can I start by acknowledging Mr Francis Gurry; Mr Michael Moller; Mr Philippe Magid and members of the Bangarra Dance Theatre; Ministers, Excellencies; our Indigenous Australians; and other distinguished guests.
Welcome to this evening's reception "Future Dreaming".
Tonight we celebrate Indigenous Australian culture and innovation.
With over 500 clan groups, 600 languages and a wide variety of cultural customs, beliefs and traditions spanning thousands, tens of thousands of years, the story of Indigenous Australia is one of the oldest in the world.
The contribution of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to modern Australian society is integral to the country that we are.
Australia is the home of the world's oldest continuing culture, that spans around 75,000 years.
I am honoured to host tonight's showcase performance by Bangarra Dance Theatre, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander company in its 28th year.
Bangarra is one of Australia's leading performing arts organisations, acclaimed internationally for its powerful dancing, distinctive theatrical voice and utterly unique soundscapes, music and design.
Bangarra demonstrates Australia's cultural diversity and the marriage of contemporary dance with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.
This innovative fusion links the rich cultural heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the vibrant diversity of modern Australia.
Australia recognises the importance of innovation, and we continue to strive for it, in our efforts to promote human rights and development both at home and abroad.
For example, Australia has established the InnovationXchange in order to catalyse and support innovation across our aid program.
The Australian Government is proud to support Bangarra on the world stage and particularly at this reception tonight in Geneva; the home of the UN Human Rights Council and the centre of thinking about traditional knowledge, led by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Indigenous communities around the world are keeping their cultural heritage alive by passing their knowledge, their arts, rituals and performances from one generation to the other, speaking and teaching their languages, protecting their cultural materials, sacred and significant sites, and objects.
Negotiations are currently underway at the World Intellectual Property Organization for an international instrument to promote and protect indigenous peoples' cultures, materials and practices.
And Australia strongly supports these discussions.
I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that Australia has committed additional funds to the World Intellectual Property Organization to support indigenous participation at these meetings, particularly from developing and least developed countries, and we encourage other WIPO Members to make similar contributions.
The World Intellectual Property Organization and the UN Human Rights Council are both playing a critical role in advancing the rights of indigenous peoples to protect, practice, maintain and develop their cultures.
This is, of course, also reflected in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
The Australian Government is committed to advancing the human rights of Indigenous People internationally.
This is a central pillar of Australia's candidacy to the Human Rights Council for the term 2018-20.
We are not campaigning for a seat on the Council because we claim to hold a perfect human rights record with our own Indigenous peoples.
No country is without its own challenges or failings, including Australia.
However rather than denying our problems, we are seeking to address and learn from them.
And we are committed to sharing our experiences, our successes and our progress, as well as our setbacks.
It is this maturity and honesty that Australia would bring to the Human Rights Council, should we be elected for our very first term from 2018 to 2020.
Can I thank you for your kind attention and I hope that you enjoy tonight's performance.
- Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7110
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555