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NAIDOC Week kicks off in Cairns

NAIDOC - NAIDOC National Awards 2017 July 1, 2017: Cairns Convention & Exhibition Centre, Cairns, Queensland (QLD), Australia. Credit: Pat Brunet / Event Photos Australia

Dr James Charles was presented the Scholar of the Year award by Professor Robert Somerville (right) and Michelle Deshong (left). Credit: Pat Brunet / Event Photos Australia

 

Celebrations for this year’s NAIDOC Week kicked off in Cairns over the weekend, with the National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony recognising ten outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians for their achievements and contributions to their community.

Batchelor Institute is a proud sponsor of the 2017 NAIDOC Awards, with CEO Professor Robert Somerville AM presenting the Scholar of the Year Award to Dr James Charles.

“NAIDOC Week is a great way to formally recognise the amazing achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia,” said Professor Somerville.

“Batchelor Institute, as a part of its national role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, training and research, is a proud sponsor of this event. We often see our staff, students and alumni reaching new goals each year and we would like to extend our congratulations to all the winners.”

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Our Languages Matter, highlighting the unique and essential role that languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.

“The importance of our languages is paramount to our continuing cultural legacy,” said Professor Somerville.

“Batchelor Institute has done an extensive amount of work in preserving and promoting Aboriginal languages”.

The award ceremony follows Batchelor Institute’s Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics launching its national database last week, which will provide a national resource for Aboriginal languages across Australia.

NAIDOC - NAIDOC National Awards 2017 July 1, 2017: Cairns Convention & Exhibition Centre, Cairns, Queensland (QLD), Australia. Credit: Pat Brunet / Event Photos Australia

Gerib Sik performing at the 2017 National NAIDOC Awards Credit: Pat Brunet / Event Photos Australia

 

The National NAIDOC Committee also extended its congratulations to the night’s award recipients.

Dianne Ryder, a proud Noongar woman from Western Australia, was honoured with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Dianne served a 21-year career in the Army and was awarded the Army Australia Day Medallion in 1990. She is currently the President of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Association of WA.

Elverina Johnson, a highly respected Gurugulu and Indinji Gimuy women from Yarrabah in far north Queensland won the Artist of the Year award. Elverina has been involved in the arts industry for over 30 years as a singer, songwriter, playwright, actor, photographer and artist. She believes that the arts can empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and restore a genuine sense of pride in their culture and communities.

The Person of the Year Award, sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank, went to National Basketball Association (NBA) Champion and a three time Olympian, Patrick Mills. Patrick is a Muralag man from the Torres Strait, Ynunga man from South Australia who is dedicated to using his international profile to promote and raise awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Other winners on the night included:

  • Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders-in-Council Aboriginal Corporation (QLD) – Caring for Country Award winner
  • Latia Schefe (QLD) – Youth of the Year
  • Elverina Johnson (QLD) – Artist of the Year
  • Sharee Yamashita (QLD) – Apprentice of the Year
  • Amanda Reid (NSW) – Sportsperson of the Year
  • Faye Carr (QLD) – Female Elder of the Year
  • Ollie George (WA) – Male Elder of the Year
  • Patrick Mills (QLD/SA) – Person of the Year
  • Dianne Ryder (WA) – Lifetime Achievement Award winner

 

“It is inspiring to see the tireless work being done by so many talented and dedicated individuals to benefit themselves, their communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across our land,” said NAIDOC Award Committee Co-Chair, Benjamin Mitchell.

NITV broadcast the event at the Cairns Convention Centre, which was attended by just under 1000 guests including the Yirrganydi and Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people, the Cairns community, federal and state politicians and high profile Indigenous affairs identities.

Cairns-based Batchelor Institute media student Nazareth Alfred was offered a work placement with NITV to assist in the live national TV broadcast, getting a valuable production credit for her work.

Hannah Hollis and Luke Carroll returned as hosts for the evening, alongside a colourful line-up of entertainment including the AustraNeisia and Gondwana Indigenous Childrens choirs, Torres Strait Islander dance groups Gerib Sik and Naygayiw Gigi, local band The Nightshift and teen superstar Isaiah Firebrace.

Sydney was announced as the National NAIDOC Host City for next year.

“It is a privilege to stage the Awards each year in a different city around our sacred country. I would like to thank the Cairns NAIDOC Committee for its assistance with the Awards and the Yirrganydi and Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people for welcoming us onto their land”, said Mr Mitchell.

Batchelor Institute has a range of activities planned at its campuses in Darwin, Batchelor and Alice Springs to celebrate NAIDOC Week. You can find the full program of events here.