Waskam Emelda Davis

(Community Recognition Statements, 3 June 2020, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

On behalf of the Sydney electorate, I congratulate Emelda Davis on being awarded the 2020 Settlement Services International Human Rights Medal, recognising a lifetime of leadership for Australian South Sea Islanders, descendants of Australia's indentured slave trade. I worked with Emelda in 2013 on my motion in Parliament to recognise Australian South Sea Islanders and get government support to create positive futures for descendants. She ensured we learned about this shameful history and the need to recognise historic harms and remove structural disadvantage. With Australian South Sea Islanders across the country, Emelda has built a national body and network of support. She's worked with researchers and statisticians to document our disgraceful blackbirding history and its impacts. She ensures we celebrate the recognition of Australian South Sea Islanders last year and continue cultural ceremonies. In the Pyrmont community, Emelda also deserves the honorific "Waskam", a term that signifies a community leader. She is a strong voice for individuals needing help and getting action on local concerns in Pyrmont and beyond, organising disaster aid to Pacific Islands. Congratulations Emelda on this recognition and your lifetime of work for justice.