NACCHO Aboriginal Health tribute to our 71 Female #ACCHO CEO’s and workforce , #NAIDOC2018 award winners and #Becauseofherwecan Pat Anderson and June Oscar

” The theme, because of her we can was particularly poignant this year celebrating the historic and current achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women on our ACCHO boards of management and in our ACCHO workforce.

I would also acknowledge all the National NAIDOC award winners announced last Friday night in Sydney especially a former NACCHO chair and health justice activist Pat Anderson awarded the highly  regarded NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award and June Oscar Social Justice Commissioner awarded the NAIDOC person of the Year

Pat is the current Chair of Lowitja Foundation, an organisation dedicated to Indigenous health research and was previously the Chief Executive Officer of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin and the Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT).

It is strong intelligent women like Pat , whose lifelong commitments, allow Indigenous people freedom and self-determination.”

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation NACCHO Chair John Singer today congratulated the 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health members throughout Australia for the way in which they honoured and celebrated during NAIDOC week. See in Full Part 2 Below 

See Part 3 below for full Pat Anderson tribute

See Part 4 below for full June Oscar tribute


Part 1 The Other NAIDOC AWARD Winners

This year’s awards also recognised outstanding achievers across music, sport, health and academia, including:

Folau Talbot, a qualified dental technician from Boggabilla, NSW, who was named 2018 Apprentice of the Year. Folau travels through regional NSW in a mobile denture clinic, providing dental services for people living in rural and remote Indigenous communities.

Yorta Yorta man, Adam Briggs or ‘Briggs’ was awarded the 2018 Artist of the Year for his pioneering work in the Australian hip hop scene and advocacy to Indigenous peoples as a writer, presenter, and actor.

Russell Charles Taylor AM, a Kamilaroi man from NSW named as 2018 Male Elder of the Year for his significant service to the community as a cultural leader and public-sector executive in the field of Indigenous affairs.

Aunty Lynette Nixon, a Gunggari woman from South Western Queensland, was recognised as the 2018 Female Elder of the Year for her exceptional work and advocacy over five decades in lobbying for the rights and betterment of the lives of the Gunggari people.

Professor Michelle Trudgett, from the Wiradjuri Nation in NSW was awarded the 2018 Scholar of the Year for her work in Indigenous participation in higher education, with a specific focus on the postgraduate sector and developing strategies to assist tertiary students to receive culturally appropriate support throughout their academic journeys. She is the founding Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges at the University of Technology in Sydney.

Jack Peris, son of former Senator and Olympian Nova Peris, was named 2018 Sportsperson of the Year. Jack, a descendant of the Iwatja people of Western Arnhem Land, and the Yawuru and Gidja people of the West and East Kimberley, is already an accomplished athlete, most recently becoming the National under-16 Australian 400m champion in athletics.

Tamina Pitt, a Wuthathi and Meriam woman, who is currently studying a Bachelor of Computer Engineering at the University of NSW, was named as the 2018 Youth of the Year. Having interned as a software engineer at Google, she is using her role as the Director of Indigitek, to galvanise a stronger community of practice amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tech engineers and entrepreneurs.

The Mungalla Aboriginal Business Corporation in North Queensland was named the 2018 Caring for Country Award winners for their community work which incorporates cultural and eco-tourism, and provides education and training for the community. Their work passes on traditional practices and builds a legacy for future generations of the Nywaigi community.

PART 2 NACCHO Press Release

Mr Singer reflected that as mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and daughters, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have culturally and historically always played a pivotal role in supporting and caring for families in our communities so working in the health sector was a natural progression.

“For over 47 years Indigenous health activists like Dr Naomi Mayers,
Coleen Shirley (Mum Shirl) Smith AM MBE,  Jill Gallagher AO,
Vicki O’Donnell, Donna Ah Chee , Pamela Mam, Julie Tongs OAM and the late Mary Buckskin have been just some of our leaders who have successfully advocated for community controlled, culturally respectful, needs based approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of our people.”

“As a result of their leadership and years of commitment as role models they have now paved the way for 71 Indigenous women to be promoted to CEO’s of out of 144 Organisations who employ over 6,000 staff with a majority being Indigenous woman,” he said.

Our ACCHO network has successfully provided a critical and practical pathway for the education, training and employment for many Indigenous women.
But much more needs to be done to develop viable career pathways to graduate more Indigenous women doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

Recently NACCHO, RANZCOG and other medical college Presidents met with the Minister for Indigenous Health and other ministers in Canberra who are all determined to do everything possible to Close the Gap in health outcomes.

Creating career pathways for Indigenous women in our workforce will be a good starting point to continue supporting the theme, Because of her we can.

Recently NACCHO CEO Pat Turner told a women’s leadership summit that, “Aboriginal women are the best advocates and leaders for health and wellbeing in their own families and in the broader community. They are proving to be effective role models, mentors and influencers for the next generation of Aboriginal female leaders.”

Part 3 : NAIDOC Awards: Pat Anderson wins NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement FROM NITV 

Lifelong leader in human rights and social justice for Indigenous Australians, Pat Anderson AO has been awarded NAIDOC’s highly regarded, Lifetime Achievement Award.

Anderson was raised in Parap Camp in Darwin in the Northern Territory, and in the 1960s to travelled and worked in the UK, the Netherlands and Israel. When she returned to Australia in the 1980s, she became one of the first Aboriginal women to graduate from the University of Western Australia, with a degree majoring in literature.

In 2015, the Alyawarre woman was featured in Australia’s top 100 most influential women list. Her leadership and commitment to justice for Indigenous peoples continues to recognised by so many Australians.

Anderson’s service to the Indigenous community extends to many areas including, public policy, Indigenous health, education and research.

WATCH video

Wonder Woman 

Recently, Anderson worked tirelessly with the Referendum Council as the Co-Chair, where she and other leaders and experts worked with community and Government to formally recognise First Australians in the Australian constitution.

Her leadership and contribution lead her as a key spokesperson at the Uluru National Convention in 2017. This conference held over 250 delegates and resulted in a formal decision — the Uluru Statement of the Heart, a declaration to the Government requesting a Parliamentary First Nations’ voice.

This was a moment in history which changed the future of Indigenous Australians, importantly their social and political position in Australian society. Although the decision was rejected by Prime Minister Turnbull, Indigenous leaders like Anderson continue to voice Indigenous perspectives and concerns to the wider Australian community.


Anderson is  also the Chair of Lowitja Foundation, an organisation dedicated to Indigenous health research.

Previously, she was the Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the Chief Executive Officer of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin and the Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT).

Anderson has worked hard to ensure Indigenous perspectives and voices are included in Australian research. Some of Anderson’s own national reports include; the landmark Bringing Them Home Report, which focused on the national inquiry into the removal of Aboriginal children from their families and The Little Sacred Reportan insight into the abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.


With a nation that continues to deny the self-determination of Indigenous people, leaders like Anderson and the important work she does is the much needed light in an often rather dark tunnel.

Being not only a woman working in these fields, but a strong Black woman, Anderson has had two glass ceilings to smash.

In 2014, Pat Anderson was appointed the Order of Australia (AO) for her efforts and service to Indigenous social justice, and in 2016, she was recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission and awarded the Human Rights Medal for her continued commitment to social justice.

It is strong intelligent women like Pat Anderson, whose lifelong commitments, allow Indigenous people freedom and self-determination.

Part 4 Fearless champion for rights, Dr June Oscar OAM taks the prestigious NAIDOC 2018 Person of the Year Award.

From NITV 

Bunuba woman, Dr June Oscar OAM, is the recipient of the Person of The Year Award at the 2018 National NAIDOC Awards. The award recognises June’s work as fearless champion for the rights of the Bunuba people and as a courageous Aboriginal leader.

Currently the first woman to hold the position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, June has lead a life of dedication and fearlessness, with an endless list of achievements that have made her a household name across Australia. Wendy McCarthy AO said, “She is a role model of integrity and determination to all Australians and indeed to many in the world”.

A political awakening

June grew up at Bundaral Ngarri (the Fitzroy River) in the Central Kimberley region of WA. It was later, working in Derby for the WA Aboriginal Legal service as a young receptionist, that she had, what she calls, her “political awakening”. Upon seeing the affidavits that were being prepared for the courts with the statements of Aboriginal stockmen who had been treated in a racist way, June told NITV that it was one of her unforgettable experiences of “Coming to terms with the injustices as a young person and seeing that Aboriginal people can seek out ways of addressing that.”

“Following this was my political awakening to justice and legal recourse and the fact that we can do something about this.”

What has followed for June is a life dedicated to seeking justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the areas of human rights, Aboriginal justice and especially the prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in her local community.

In regards to the later, former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said, “June is truly brave, tackling some of the most complex and sensitive issues affecting Aboriginal Australians without regard for the impact on her own life.”

Because of her, we can

June descends from a line of strong, Bunuba women. In particular, she said that her mother describes her grandmother as “A very strong, knowledgeable, fearless woman”.

“She was someone that when I think of myself sometimes I reflect on ‘Where do I get my drive and courage and commitment from?’ And I think I get it from my grandmother,” says June.

The legacy of the these women is what June is most grateful for, saying  “We must remember that when we, as Aboriginal women, step into roles of responsibility, whether it’s in our families, communities or an organisation, that we stand on the strong shoulders of the strong women who have gone before us.”

It is this inspiration that June now strives to continue for the coming generations, with the aim for all Indigenous women and girls to have strength, pride and empowerment.

This is the theme that shines most prominently through her work, with June being responsible for groundbreaking initiatives such as the Wiyi Yani Thangani (Women’s Voices), which builds on the landmark Women’s Business: report of the Aboriginal Women’s taskforce, paving the way for a new and sustained relationship between Indigenous women and girls and the Australian Government.

“I want to be that pathfinder and set the path, set the trail, for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women,” she told NITV.

“Because if it is about us, you have to do it with us.”

“We have a right to be part of the discussion and the decision-making around matters that affect us.”

In terms of advice for young Aboriginal women, June offered up 3 gems: “Be respectful. Speak Your Truth. Don’t compromise who you are.”


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