• Yugambeh elders Ted Williams and Patricia O'Connor with Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones. (Supplied (Rory O'Connor))Source: Supplied (Rory O'Connor)
Soon 88-year-old Yugambeh elder Patricia O'Connor will board her first overseas flight, bound for the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay launch at Buckingham Palace.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

Source:
NITV News
10 Mar 2017 - 12:31 PM  UPDATED 10 Mar 2017 - 12:34 PM

Yugambeh elders Patricia O'Connor and Ted Williams will represent Gold Coast traditional owners at the launch of the Commonwealth Games in London, on March 13.

It's the first time traditional owners will been included in the ceremony. 

The pair will speak alongside the Queen to formally invite First Nations peoples of the Commonwealth to attend the games in 2018.

Ms O'Connor, who's never been overseas before, says it will be: "quite an adventure". 

"I was surprised more than anything," she says of her reaction upon hearing the news. 

"I’ve always felt I knew the Queen quite well, so here I go – like going to see a friend.

"We’ve grown up together so to speak, the Queen is two years older than myself, so I thought I knew her very well and would be looking forward to meeting her."

Ms O'Connor and Mr Williams are both members of the Yugambeh Elders Advisory Group, which provides cultural guidance to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC). 

Mr Williams says being chosen to go to Buckingham Palace was "a bolt from the blue". 

"Mum used to love buying magazines like Woman’s Day and Women’s Weekly, because they always had royal spreads in them and she’d read them profusely and knew all the names and so on," he told NITV.

"So it would’ve suited my mum down to the ground, she would’ve been very happy to know that I was there."

'Kids growing up are going to find that being an Indigenous Australian is nothing to be ashamed about.'

Aside from the novelty of the trip, Mr Williams says he's pleased to see a meaningful acknowledgement of Australia's first peoples at the games. 

"Previous occasions chose to conveniently ignore that Australia has a black past. But these people are not only not letting that fake story go through, they’re actually including Indigenous Australia into it," he says.

"And so therefore future generations or kids growing up are going to find that being an Indigenous Australian is nothing to be ashamed about."

The former school teacher says he plans to use the opportunity to spread a hopeful message for the future. 

"The message I hope to get across is that 21st century Australia is reconciliation Australia, and they’re showing it by having Indigenous people as part of the Queen’s baton relay," he says.

On Tuesday, Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones announced GOLDOC would formally release a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in the coming weeks, aimed at driving "greater equality and opportunities".