2023 Solomon Lecture

The 2023 Solomon lecture was delivered by Ms Talei Elu, Seisia community member and 2023 Young Australian of the Year for Queensland. Her keynote was titled, 'The Story of Seisia – How access to information in remote Indigenous communities can help to solve complex problems'. Seisia is a small coastal Torres Strait Islander community at the northernmost point of Cape York. In recent years, the people of this community experienced struggles associated with poor telecommunications – including being unable to call 000, unable to access resources for Covid, inability for businesses to trade and inability for community members to access services. Ms Elu shared her story about how the people of Seisia harnessed the information and contacts they had to lobby for better telecommunications infrastructure, ultimately securing a $1.09 million tower through the Regional Connectivity Program. In the lead up to being able to reap the benefits of better digital access, residents of Seisia now have the challenge of ensuring they are digitally literate and resilient against the scourge of misinformation, and online bullying. The residents of Seisia experience the brunt of multiple complex issues and systems that interact – often to compound. Seisia is building on their access to information and contacts across government processes, health, media, and a range of fields to ultimately learn how to go about solving these complex issues, to secure investment, and improve community liveability.

Journalist and media personality, Kim Skubris, emceed the event and led a panel discussion, following the Solomon Lecture, about bridging the digital divide and real life case studies. The panel featured: Mr Chris McLaren (Chief Customer and Digital Officer, Queensland Government Customer and Digital Group) Mr Chatur Zala (CEO, Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council) Professor Michael Dezuanni (Program Leader, Digital Inclusion and Participation, Digital Media Research Centre, QUT).

About Talei Elu

Talei Elu decided to focus on her enthusiasm for her Torres Strait culture after six years working for the Federal Government. Talei is a Saibai Koedal (crocodile) woman from the Torres Strait Islander community of Seisia in Cape York. She used her government experience, knack for media creation and community organisation skills to start initiatives that have had a positive effect in Seisia.

Since returning home during the pandemic, Talei has worked with the Australian Electoral Commission to enrol and educate more Indigenous people about the importance of voting. Talei also arranged for local women to receive free feminine hygiene products, baby necessities, and beauty and self-care items. And she started Seisia Sports and Rec, a free sports equipment hire initiative for youth. Talei regularly organises beach clean-ups and was recently named as the youngest member of the First Nations Consultative Committee and co-chair.