Cooktown provided the spectacular backdrop for the symposium held June 15-16 as part of the Cooktown & Cape York Expo. The Cairns Institute, led by Professor Hurriyet Babacan, in partnership with the Cook Shire Council developed the program and hosted this inaugural Symposium. The aims were to strengthen resilience, adaptability and innovation in the Cape York region as well as to provide practical skills for small business and digital startups. The attendance of approximately 40-50 people attending each of the 6 sessions exceeded expectations. The audience came from the Cook Shire and all across the Cape York region; included were Weipa, Hope Vale and Lockhart River. The event was opened by the Traditional Owners and Mayor Peter Scott.
Across the two day event, there were 27 speakers; including Hurriyet Babacan (JCU), Krista Watkins (Natural Evolution and Cairns Business Women’s Club), Pip Schoor (Torres Cape Indigenous Council Alliance), Johny Murrison (Jarramali Enterprises), Mark Olsen (TTNQ), Peter Laurie (Junta Director, Entrepreneur in Residence - ilab at University of Queensland, Software Developer & Start-up Mentor), and Desley Ferrando (Department of Employment, Small Business and Training). Mayor Scott said that the symposium had managed to be both “aspirational and inspirational”. One of the sessions facilitated by Professor Allan Dale, was the Cape York Regional Development forum; designed to highlight and provide discussion on some of the larger infrastructure projects occurring on Cape York. It involved representatives from Department of Main Roads, Regional Development Australia Tropical North, Department of Agriculture, NBN Co and the Cape York Natural Resource Management (NRM).
The event was observed to be a huge success, as it was the first of its kind held in the Cape York region. Some formal feedback received were:
“A great event, great speakers, good diversity in topics, highly relevant, well run and coordinated.”
“I think you’ve created a fantastic business Symposium template that could be taken to all small communities in North Queensland.”
“All the speakers stood out in their own way. All very good. We only went originally for the first few hours but ended up staying the full two days. Very impressed by all the speakers. Thankyou.”