A HUGE crowd attended The Pavilion at Kiama on Saturday night for the annual Regional NAIDOC Awards Dinner to honour the achievements of local indigenous people in the local area.
The ceremony, hosted by Aboriginal comedian Kevin Kropinyeri, highlighted contributions by everyday members of the community. The night included a special appearance by recently-announced winner of the National Male Elder of the Year, Uncle Richard Archibald.
Organisation of the Year was won by the Albion Park Rail-based Illawarra Koori Men’s Support Group.
The group is a not for profit Aboriginal community organization delivering a range of services and programs for men, including young me in the community.
The organisation has developed into a a well-respected, leading Aboriginal agency that has directed 2000 instances of general support and programs in the last 12 months, supporting nearly 400 young people.
Worker of the Year went to Hayley Longbottom.
The award recognises and individual working for an with the Aboriginal community and must demonstrate excellence in their field of work, be an inspirational role model and show active leadership.
Mrs Wellington has completed her training as an Aboriginal Primary Health Care worker and is one of a handful of Aboriginal women in the community that clinically practices and she is also one of the key workers working in triage in her organisation.
A mother of five from the Shoalhaven, she is the only Aboriginal Health worker in her specific field of working one-on-one with women in chronic disease management, prevention and intervention in a clinical capacity.
She has strong relationship in the community, being from Jerrinja Aboriginal community.
The Female Young Achiever of the Year was awarded to Kiama’s Jazmin Tikkeros.
The 14-year-old is a high achiever in both sport and academically, starring in basketball, where she had played up to two age-groups above her age and also shone in Oztag and netball and has won a Sports Honours Award for her dedication and success in all her sporting achievements.
She also maintains her dedication to her education, consistently reaching A and B grades. She has been presented with an Academic Honours Award for technology and merit awards for music and English.
Among other achievements, Jazmin is a member of Kiama High School’s Indigenous Student Committee and is a member of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence for three years.
Lake Illawarra High School’s Geoffrey Maher Junior won the Male Young Achiever of the Year.
With plans to become a lawyer or politician after he leaves school, last year he attended an Indigenous Leadership Conference for Aboriginal people in the Illawarra community and ran the same workshop at his school at Wollongong University.
His efforts led to him being one of six young people from NSW to be nominated to attend the National Indigenous Youth Parliament.
He continually mentors his peers and is extremely highly thought of by his community’s elders.
Uncle Fred Moore from Dapto won the Outstanding Contribution to Reconcilliation Award.
This is the first time this award has been presented and through his work with the Trade Union movement has lobbied for a better deal for Aboriginal people since the 1960s, especially in relation to health and housing.
He also fought for non-segregation at a time when Aboriginal people were discriminated against in local theatres and refused service in cafes and hotels by lobbying state and federal parliamentarians and used the muscle of the South Coast Labour Council.
He is so highly regarded in his community and leads his people in the annual in May Day march.
The Male Elder of the Year went to Mt Warrigal’s Uncle Gerald Brown.
He has dedicated his life to improving the lives of Aboriginal people, especially young people in his community.
He has directly assisted many of his people and their families, contributing to improved training for Aboriginal workers and has been key to the development of a new Aboriginal Youth Housing Project.
He is involved in the Koori Men’s Group and their programs, believes strongly that respect is the key to young Aboriginal boys developing into strong Aboriginal men and constantly reinforces the importance of Aboriginal culture in these boys.
The Female Elder of the Year went to Shoalhaven’s Aunty Pat Lester.
She is highly respected in both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities and was recently instrumental as a supportive Elder in developing the Shoalhaven Aboriginal Youth Engagement Strategy.
As an outcome an Aboriginal Youth Leadership Group is being developed for which she is volunteering her own time to mentor and support youth.
She encourages consultative processes in all aspects of Aboriginal issues and is open to new approaches and ideas, but also ensures cultural appropriateness, providing guidance to both less-experienced Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal people in gaining the best outcomes.
Following the presentations a Message Stick, designed by Kiama Elder Stephen Russell, was presented to Shoalhaven councilor Amanda Findlay in recognition that her council had been selected to host the 2015 awards.
See gallery from the awards here