2022 NAIDOC Awards recognise Indigenous achievers


The 2022 NAIDOC Awards have been announced at a Gala event in Naarm (Melbourne) with high achieving Indigenous Australians recognised for their accomplishments and status as role models. The event was hosted by Shelley Ware and Stephen Oliver.

Among the trailblazers are recognised actor and activist Uncle Jack Charles, footballer Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, tennis star Ash Barty, researcher Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, environmental and social justice campaigner Elijah Manis, former model and entertainer turned educator Dr Lous Peeler and long running newspaper The Koori Mail.

Committee Co-Chair Shannan Dodson said the awards highlight some of Australia’s finest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievers.

“After a two-year hiatus, it brought me immense joy to see so many well-deserving First Nations leaders who are recognised by their communities, now elevated onto the national stage.

“There is so much to be proud of in seeing this year’s winners receive their accolades and I look forward to them being celebrated as a part of NAIDOC history,” she said.

Newly appointed Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Linda Burney spoke to the audience saying Australia was heading towards a positive change for Indigenous people.

“We are going to change this country, we are going to change this country because our day has come.  We will be written into the Australian constitution. There will be a voice, there will be a Makarrata Commission, there will be national process of truth telling, and there will be a treaty between in this country between the federal government and First Nations people.

Tennis champion Ash Barty was named NAIDOC’s 2002 Person of the Year. Through her great-grandmother, Ash is a member of the Ngarigo people, the Aboriginal people of southern New South Wales and north-eastern Victoria.

The recently retired Wimbledon champion has worked with Tennis Australia to encourage more young Indigenous people to get active and follow their passion for sport.

Professor Bronwyn Fredericks was the recipient of the 2022 Education Award.  Professor Fredericks has spent over 30 years directly involved in organisations working to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, especially in regional and remote Australia.

The Caring and Community award was bestowed on Walter Jackson, a Ngarrindjeri man from South Australia. He has worked in a number of roles on significant projects in the Ngarrindjeri region, including as Chief Executive of Ngopamuldi Aboriginal Corporation. He has been an advocate for improved employment opportunities for Indigenous youth alongside his work in caring for the environment.

Western Australian Lowell Hunter won the Creative Talent Award.  A Nyul Nyul man originally from the Kimberley region in Western Australia, Lowell is very passionate about Aboriginal culture and traditional dance, which he has been practicing since the age of ten.

Lowell uses his feet to stamp, hop and carve the sand to create vast contemporary artworks that are integrated into the landscape and captured for posterity with drone photography.

Footballer Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin was named Sportsperson of the Year.  In his career to date, the Sydney Swans player has won two premierships, eight All-Australian selections, four Coleman Medals and a Peter Crimmins Medal. He has also represented Australia in the 2013 International Rules Series.

A staunch advocate for the rights of Indigenous Australians, in 2017 he was one of a number of players to wear the number 67 on his back during Sir Doug Nicholls round in commemoration of the 1967 Referendum to fully include Indigenous Australians in the census. He has also been a champion for mental health – being open about his struggles with depression in an effort to destigmatise the mental illness among Australian men, particularly in the AFL.

The Youth Award was received by Elijah Manis. Hailing from the islands of Masig and Poruma in the Torres Strait, Manis is a young islander who is passionate about social justice issues, LGBTIQA rights and the effects of climate change on the Torres Strait.

Manis cited singer Tracy Chapman, Japanese wrestler Hiroshi Tanahashi and Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti as his inspirations.

Actor and activist Uncle Jack Charles was named Male Elder of the Year. Accepting his award Uncle Jack Charles said it was a “great surprise” to be given the accolade.

Dr Lois Peeler accepted the Female Elder of the Year award. In the 1960s Dr Peeler became Australia’s first Aboriginal model before joining the all-female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander singing group the Sapphires, which toured Vietnam during one of the world’s harshest wars.

In 1983, Dr Peeler and her sister Hyllus Maris established Australia’s only Aboriginal girls’ boarding school, Worawa Aboriginal College. In the following decades she has gone on to be a leading voice in Indigenous education.

The Lifetime Achievement award was given to Dr Stanley Grant Snr, who has spent his life working to ensure the Wiradjuri language from south-west New South Wales is retained.

National NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia in the first week of July each year, to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Get Up!, Stand Up!, Show Up!’.

First Peoples Rainbow Mob announces local award recipients 

Western Australian organisation First Peoples Rainbow Mob also announced their NAIDOC Week award recipients.

Their award for LGBTIQA+ Senior Leader is Jennifer Anderson. Anderson has served on the organisation’s board and was worked with Pride WA to have a First Nations float included at the front of the WA Pride Parade.

“I am proud to stand up and be apart of the ongoing process creating visibility and awareness to all Mob across WA and let them see there is no shame to be Blak and a apart of the LGBTQIA+ community”. Anderson said of the accolade.

The award for community involvement was given to radio presenter Melissa Brandis. Since 2017 Brandis has presented the weekly radio program Rainbow KINection on community radio station Noongar FM.

“As a queer woman of colour I’ve seen my fair share of inequality and discrimination and I want to work toward a time where no one is discriminated against because of who they are or who they choose to love.” Brandis said.

“My passion is in the media and the arts. I have worked for Noongar Radio since 2017, hosting the award winning show Rainbow KINection. The first ever radio show for queer indigenous people in Perth. It is through the radio show I have has the pleasure to represent my people, and their stories, and give them a voice.”

The Young Leader award was accepted by Tanesha Bennell who has served on youth advisory groups and junior councils, as well as being a leader at Boorloo Justice. Toby Millar, also from Boorloo Justice, was the recipient of the LGBTIQA+ Social Media Representative Award.

“I like to be a presence on Social Media advocating for Indigenous people and our issues. In addition, I am an advocate for LGBTQ+ issues and use my position in life and social media to educate and share knowledge on these communities.

“I love the intersection of being gay and Aboriginal and deeply proud of this. I’m hoping I can inspire Aboriginal people to be more of a presence on social media, to be more proud of being queer or to embrace both of these identities.” Millar said.

Graeme Watson 

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