PRESENTER: Hi, I’m Trevor Ellis and you’re listening to a special radio program on the 2013 National NAIDOC Awards held in Perth.
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The highlight of the week is of course the National NAIDOC Awards. Funded by the Australian Government, the annual awards are an opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in our community to join together to celebrate the outstanding achievements of Indigenous Australians, their contribution to our community and to our nation.
Our broadcast of NAIDOC’s night of nights is in two parts. In part one, we’ll hear about the winners of the Lifetime Achievement, Person of the Year, Elders of the Year and the Caring for Country awards and talk to some of the winners about their achievements.
This year’s awards were MC’d by actor Ernie Dingo and Perth Ten News presenter Nerelda Jacobs.
The first presentation at the National NAIDOC Awards was the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award to Galarruwy Yunupingu.
VIGNETTE: Born at Melville Bay near Yirrkala in East Arnhem Land, Galarruwy Yunupingu is a prominent leader and strong voice for Aboriginal people.
With Yolngu law and land rights his life’s interest, Galarrwuy came to national attention in the late 1960’s for his role in the landmark Gove Land Rights Case. This was the first action by Indigenous Australians to challenge mining companies’ use of traditional lands.
For many years, Galarruwy held an executive position on the Northern Land Council where he helped Aboriginal people win back, and take control of their land.
To this day, Galarruwy continues his advocacy for self-determination and economic development among his people.
Leader of the Gumatj Clan since 1979, Galarruwy has gained respect and admiration from prominent political leaders and many Australians alike for his dedication and achievements.
Galarruwy has been honoured as Australian of the Year, Member of the Order of Australia, and has been named as one of Australia’s National Living Treasures.
PRESENTER: Galarruwy was unable to attend the event, so his son Gapirri Yunupingu accepted the award on his father’s behalf. Gapirri said his father was an inspiration.
YUNUPINGU: He’s been working his whole life for his people back up home, so I’m sure he’d be very proud of it. He’s such a big leader.
He inspires me to take on roles later on in life, when he passes it down to us younger generations, so be looking forward to that.
PRESENTER: The Person of the Year Award recognises a strong leader who has shown commitment and dedication to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians, both in their community and across the country. It was presented by 2012 NAIDOC Person of the Year, David Wirrpanda.
WIRRPANDA: I’d like to pay tribute to the recent recipient of the last award in Galarruwy Yunupingu. That’s actually my family from Yirrkala in north east Arnhem Land. I suppose, the father of our music in Manduwy, who passed away, who gave us a voice in music and gave us a national voice right through Parliament.
But it gives me great honour to give the next award, and this is significant to me as a person, because in 1992 my grandmother won this award as the National NAIDOC Person of the Year, and I had a dream one day that I wanted to follow her footsteps, because she was my queen, she was my inspiration. She gave me the tools to actually go on and create a life for myself, which eventually became sport.
But more importantly, she gave me the courage to be who I am today.
And I think this is very significant, and it’s an honour for me to pass it on to the next person, who’s an absolute genius, young Daryl Kickett, who’s the 2013 National NAIDOC Person of the Year.
VIGNETTE: Darryl Kickett is a Noongar man from the Narrogin area of Western Australia who has worked tirelessly for his people for more than 40 years.
He has dedicated his life to community development, land rights, education, health and policy.
Beginning his career as a sportsman, Darryl enjoyed success as a champion boxer and Australian Rules footballer.
After completing a degree in social science Darryl was made Head of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at the Curtin University. During this time, Darryl and his team developed the hugely successful Community Management and Development Course.
Darryl has made an outstanding contribution in Aboriginal health. As the CEO of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia, significant advancements were made in health care delivery, child and maternal health, chronic disease and mental health.
Recently, Darryl has been responsible for bringing the Red Dust Healing Program to communities in WA, a program supporting a healthy path in life.
As a result of Darryl’s vision, Noongar men are coming together to work towards spiritual healing.
Darryl is described as a quiet achiever who doesn’t look for praise; somebody who has generosity of spirit and strength of character.
PRESENTER: We caught up with Darryl after he accepted his award.
KICKETT: I’m totally surprised, shocked. I thought I really had no chance in the field across Australia, but I’m pleasantly surprised that I’ve been able to win the award. I was nominated by my daughters and John Ford, and my wife Anna. I think that it will just help others who think that the work they’re doing is not important.
ELLIS: Now some of your family members were just with you. They must feel pretty proud?
KICKETT: They seem to be extremely proud. I’m quite amazed at the people who have come up to congratulate me.
ELLIS: Now a lot of your work is in the health area. Tell me a bit about that.
KICKETT: I was the CEO of the Aboriginal Health Council of WA for a number of years. Over the last couple of years, I’ve moved closer to helping people with their social and emotional wellbeing through Anglicare WA, to help them start their journey of healing.
ELLIS: Tell me about the Red Dust program that you deal with.
KICKETT: The Red Dust program is amazing, and it’s really helped me in my life. I’m so excited about helping others. I’ve already helped people who have wanted to hurt themselves to overcome that and to feel really great now going into the future, so that’s fantastic.
ELLIS: So with the future, what’s going to happen with you now?
KICKETT: Well we want to expand the healing across WA. We want to take the Red Dust Healing wherever we can take it. We’ve taken it across Nyoongar country. We want to set up a healing centre in Nyoongar country for Red Dust Healing.
We want to set up those kinds of healing centres across Western Australia if we can. We’ll have a go at it anyway.
PRESENTER: Some of the most prestigious awards of the night go to our elders, as MC Nerelda Jacobs explains.
NERELDA: Our next two awards are for those very important people in our communities, our elders. They have a wisdom born of experience, and their strong leadership is an inspiration to us all.
PRESENTER: And the Female Elder of the Year Award went to Rose Richards.
VIGNETTE: Rose Richards is a proud Yalangi and Tagalaga elder from far north Queensland. At 83 years of age, she is still an inspirational leader and role model for her people.
Rose has worked hard all her life.
As an Aboriginal Liaison Officer at the Cairns Base hospital, Rose developed a passion for improving the health and wellbeing of babies, young children and mothers.
In 1983, Rose furthered her passion by establishing her own organisation, Mookai Rosie-bi-Bayan, to continue this work.
This year, Mookai Rosie-bi-Bayan will celebrate its 30th anniversary and continues to be a national leader in Indigenous child and maternal health.
Rose is warmly welcomed into communities by all who know her and her commitment to her people is acknowledged across Australia.
PRESENTER: Rose was very emotional after receiving her award.
ELLIS: Rose, just to start with, congratulations and how do you feel about winning this award?
RICHARDS: Thank you very much. I didn’t expect it to be the way it turned out. I really got a shock.
ELLIS: It’s great work that our elders do, isn’t it?
RICHARDS: I worked hard in my life and I’ve got a place going in cairns for Aboriginal mothers and children and it’s called Mookai Rosie after me. Mookai Rosie means Aunty Rose’s place. And it’s a lovely big home. It’s full all the time.
ELLIS: And how does your family feel about it? They must be pretty proud as well?
RICHARDS: Yes. I think so. My son drove down from Darwin to be here for this. We didn’t know it was going to turn out the way it did.
PRESENTER: The Male Elder of the Year Award went to John Hayden, a respected Noongar elder from Brookton in the south west of Western Australia.
He started his working life in shearing sheds and manual labour crews, but decided his passion was to be actively involved in advancing the rights and wellbeing of Aboriginal people.
VIGNETTE: John spent 12 years working in Aboriginal health, before being elected to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Regional Council where he sat for eight years.
He has also worked with Western Australia Tourism with a focus on increasing tourism to WA through promotion of Aboriginal arts, craft and tours.
More recently, John has been involved with the Department of Corrections to increase levels of understanding within the Department about Aboriginal people and culture.
John is an inspirational role model who has dedicated his life to improving the lives and wellbeing of Aboriginal people.
PRESENTER: We spoke with John, who said he was very surprised to be recognised.
HAYDEN: I’ve never been in this situation before. I’ve never been recognised, never wanted to be recognised, it’s just something that came out of the blue and I’m excited. I try to keep a low profile but tonight is so special.
ELLIS: Looking back over the work that you’ve done, you must feel pretty proud to get recognised like this?
HAYDEN: The work I’ve done over the years, that was what was expected of me, that’s what I was taught and trained to do, to work with my people, work with other people, and hopefully some of those things would rub off along the way and people would learn about what the issues were at the time.
Like I said, I’ve been around for a long time in the environment and I just hope that eventually, when I become a serious elder, that people will see that there’s been benefits and the path that I’ve trod.
PRESENTER: The idea of country is very important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It’s where we belong and where our ancestors built their nations and traditions.
Daniel Odes announced this year’s Caring for Country Award winner.
ODES: When I think about caring for country I think about people putting back in the landscape what was potentially taken out of it, things like our fire regimes, and also fixing up some of those invasive species that were introduced for some reason, and also young people learning off their elders and continuing that traditional knowledge, sharing and passing on.
The winner of the 2013 National NAIDOC Caring for Country Award goes to a person who’s actually from the same town as me in Broome, Jimmy Edgar.
VIGNETTE: Jimmy Edgar is a Yawuru and Karajarri man from Western Australia who has shown his passion for country and culture over many years.
Jimmy provides cultural knowledge to schools, community organisations and government bodies that are interested in respecting and connecting to country.
On a daily basis Jimmy engages with the Yawaru Rangers, using his wealth of knowledge to teach them about keeping country alive and fruitful, for people to enjoy.
He played an important part in developing the Yawaru Cultural Management Plan, which has received several awards including the WA Medal for Landscape Architecture in 2012.
Jimmy has become the face of Yawaru country. He continues to devote his time to maintaining strong country and culture that can be handed down to future generations.
PRESENTER: Here’s Jimmy reflecting on his award win.
EDGAR: I think my mother had a lot to do with it, spiritually, and my family back home, they were wanting me to for her sake and because of our situation, because we lost her. This will give an uplifting for my family and to win this sort of award is a great honour, my goodness.
ELLIS: And you must be so proud of the work that you do with the boys up in Broome now, caring for country?
EDGAR: Yes for sure. I am very proud. If it wasn’t for people like my mother and my father, all I’m doing is giving knowledge to others what my elders told me and showed me. Because of progress and that, for myself, I need to further on their commitments and their story tellings.
PRESENTER: Well that’s all for part one of our National NAIDOC Awards special.
Make sure you listen in next time for part two, where we hear from the winners of Youth of the Year, Artist of the Year, Scholar of the Year, Apprentice of the Year and the Sportsperson of the Year.
For more information on NAIDOC and the award winners, go to Indigenous.gov.au or naidoc.org.au.
I’m Trevor Ellis and thanks for listening to this special 2013 NAIDOC radio program.