On Guinness World Record and In Memory of Rose Colless (Adjournment Speech)

September 01, 2016

You can watch video footage of the speech here.

On 12 August 2016 students from across Queensland converged on the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre to take part in a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest practical science lesson. The students, supported by their teachers, took part in a lesson all about magnets. Whilst carrying out some interesting experiments, they had to follow strict rules to comply with criteria overseen by Guinness World Record officials. It is with great pleasure that I can confirm that, with nearly 2,900 students in attendance, Queensland students smashed the record. I would like to thank all students, their schools and their teachers for not just being part of setting a new Guinness World Record but helping put science and STEM subjects in the spotlight for all Queenslanders.

Students from Forest Lake State High School in my own electorate of Algester were proudly part of the excitement on the day and can now lay claim to being world record holders. Forest Lake State High School has a strong commitment to STEM through their `innovate' program and that commitment was certainly on display during the world record attempt. I would like to congratulate the Principal, Tom Beck, the amazing teaching staff at Forest Lake State High School and all the incredible students who should be so very proud of their efforts.

On a more solemn note, I would like to take just a moment to acknowledge a remarkable woman who, sadly, passed away recently. Rose Colless, nee Oliver, or Mrs Colless as most of us referred to her, was a tireless worker and leader in the Aboriginal community across Far North Queensland. Her career spanned many decades and included: regional ATSIC councillor, deputy chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Corporation for Elders, chair of the Wuchopperen Medical Service and deputy chair of the first North Queensland Aboriginal Land Council. She was also the foundation member and board member of numerous other organisations and task forces in support of Indigenous issues and she was well known for her work in establishing the Aborigines & Islanders Alcohol Relief Service in Cairns, otherwise known as Douglas House. She was the managing director of Douglas House for 16 years and helped numerous people in their journey to rehabilitation.

Mrs Colless received the Order of Australia Medal in 1984 and in 1987 became the first ever recipient of the Australian Human Rights Medal for her ongoing fight for improving the lives of indigenous Australians. She was a remarkable woman and I was very privileged to have known her. She was actually the bridesmaid to my grandmother at her wedding. I was always very thrilled to get time to speak with her and more recently receive letters of congratulations and encouragement from her.

Mrs Colless passed away aged 88 after a battle with stomach cancer. She left her mark on this world as an Aboriginal woman and she inspired all of us.