NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : 10 Winners profiles National #NAIDOC2017 Awards

The National NAIDOC Committee on the weekend congratulated ten outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who were honoured at the 2017 National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony in Cairns.

See all 10 winners profiles full below Part 2

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, being awarded the Army Australia Day Medallion in 1990.

She is currently the President of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Association of WA and challenges us all to consider how we can improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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.

NACCHO extends its congratulations to all of the 2017 National NAIDOC Award winners and nomination

“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 Committee Co-Chair, Benjamin Mitchell.

Congratulations to:

• 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

• Dr James Charles (SA) – Scholar 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

2017 National NAIDOC Theme – Our Languages Matter

The importance, resilience and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages will be the focus of national celebrations marking NAIDOC Week 2017.

The 2017 theme – Our Languages Matter – aims to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous 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.

Some 250 distinct Indigenous language groups covered the continent at first (significant) European contact in the late eighteenth century. Most of these languages would have had several dialects, so that the total number of named varieties would have run to many hundreds.

 Search languages with this interactive website

Today only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost as Elders pass on.

National NAIDOC Committee Co-Chair Anne Martin said languages are the breath of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the theme will raise awareness of the status and importance of Indigenous languages across the country.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages are not just a means of communication, they express knowledge about everything:  law, geography, history, family and human relationships, philosophy, religion, anatomy, childcare, health, caring for country, astronomy, biology and food.

“Each language is associated with an area of land and has a deep spiritual significance and it is through their own languages, that Indigenous nations maintain their connection with their ancestors, land and law,” Ms Martin said.

“We are grateful to have worked with some outstanding partners this year, whose support contributed to success of the 2017 national celebrations.” said Committee Co-Chair, Anne Martin.

The Awards were hosted at the Cairns Convention Centre and 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.

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

The Committee thanks all involved in making this year another successful National NAIDOC event.

“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.

Lastly, congratulations to Sydney which was announced last night as the National NAIDOC Host City for 2017.

Highlights of the night are available at

For more information on NAIDOC Week and the 2016 National NAIDOC Awards winners, visit


Caring for Country Award – Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders -in -Council

The Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders-in-Council Aboriginal Corporation in Queensland was created to record and teach people about caring for Country for future generations. They represent descendants of the Noonuccal, Ngugi and Goenpul people of North Stradbroke (Minjerribah), Moreton (Moorgumpin) and the Moreton Bay (Quandamooka) islands.

Each year the Elders deliver cultural education services to approximately 6000 participants. They teach knowledge of local languages; bush plants, and environmental management skills that they learned growing up.

As well as education, the Elders are preserving a regional ecosystem which includes significant vegetation and habitats.

Their success has seen the Elders involved in cultural heritage assessments, the publication of books to unique flora, bush tucker and medicinal plants of Stradbroke Island, and the re-introduction of local language to the younger generation, through publication of the Jandai Language Dictionary

Youth of the year – Latia Schefe

Latia Schefe is a young Yuggera woman from Brisbane, Queensland who has overcome serious illness and adversity to become a strong role model among her peers.

Diagnosed with Neuroblastoma cancer when she was only 6 years old, Latia endured multiple operations, chemotherapy and the loss of a kidney.

Despite her hardships, Latia went on to complete Year 12 education and in her final year was awarded the Jane Prentice Award for Indigenous Student of the Year.

Latia stands out as a promising future leader, participating in a Biking Program which fixes old bikes for people with disability, and coordinating local NAIDOC celebrations.

For her future, Latia wants join the police force, or drive the giant trucks in the mining industry

Artist of the Year – Elverina Johnson

Elverina Johnson is a highly respected Gurugulu and Indinji Gimuy women from Yarrabah in far north Queensland – and one of Australia’s most highly respected Indigenous artists.

With creative talents spanning the spectrum of visual and performing arts, 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, and works with youth and Elders alike to promote cultural respect and integrity.

Elverina volunteers her time to address critical social issues impacting on the lives of people in Indigenous communities, living true to her traditional family name -Bunya Badjil – which means “Good Woman”

Scholar of the year –Dr James Charles

Dr James Charles is a Kaurna man from Adelaide, South Australia and is currently working at Charles Sturt University as a lecturer in Podiatry.

He graduated from the University of South Australia in podiatry, completed his Masters, recently completed his PhD, and his research is being published in peer review journals.

James is passionate about providing podiatry services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and believes that foot health is undervalued. He has worked for many years at leading Universities, educating on providing culturally appropriate health care.

In 2008 James undertook a two year chairmanship of the newly formed Indigenous Allied Health Network, an organisation he helped build.

Always giving back to his community, James has raised significant money for the Rotary Indigenous Health Fund to provide scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Apprentice of the Year – Sharee Yamashita

Sharee Yamashita is a young Thanikwithi woman from Thursday Island who has recently completed her Electrical apprenticeship while managing the demanding responsibilities of a young family. She is now a full time employee working with Rio Tinto in Weipa on the Cape York Peninsula.

Sharee has overcome many obstacles along her journey, and says her determination has been inspired by many people, including her father. Her success in her apprenticeship has increased her confidence and she is keen to share her journey to inspire others.

Sharee’s leadership has a powerful positive impact on everyone that she interacts with. Her success in a male dominated industry makes Sharee an important role model for other young Indigenous women.

Sharee’s goal for the future is to help other young people to create opportunities and succeed in their chosen careers.

Sportsperson of the year – Amanda Reid

Amanda Reid is Gurinagi & Wamba Wamba women from Sydney, New South Whales and an accomplished Indigenous Paralympic athlete.

Amanda is the first Aboriginal cyclist and medallist, winning Silver at Rio 2016, and the first female athlete since 1992 to achieve a podium status.

Amanda is the current UCI Para World Cycling Champion in the 3000 meter Pursuit and the 500 meter time trail, breaking the Paralympic record in Rio.

Previously an Australia Day ambassador and currently delivering presentations in local schools, Amanda is an inspirational role model to all Australians. She mentors young disabled athletes as well as Aboriginal youth in care and plans to increase her community work prove that people with disability can achieve in their community.

Amanda lives every day by her mantra “dream it, believe it and you will be it.”

Female Elder of the year – Faye Carr

Faye Carr is a Yuggera Elder from Ipswich in Queensland, who has overcome a tough childhood to become a strong advocate and leader in her community.

Passionate about sharing her culture and knowledge with her community, Faye has been contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people since the 1960’s.

Faye was involved in establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, the Kambu Progress Association and the Kambu Aboriginal to deliver important legal, housing, recreational and health services to Ipswich and broader Queensland. Among many accolades, Faye was honoured with Ipswich Citizen of the Year in 2016.

Always an advocate for her people, Faye recently met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other key stakeholders to raise awareness about the impacts of domestic violence on women and families.

Male Elder of the year – Ollie George

Ollie George is a Badimaya Elder from Western Australia who has worked tirelessly since the early 1990s to preserve his mother tongue, Badimaya.

He has taught Badimaya at the school in his hometown of Mt Magnet and works with community members to create language materials and resources. He has recorded hundreds of hours of Badimaya language, much of it by himself.

Since 2012, Ollie has worked to produce 7 publications in Badimaya, has been featured in two ‘Indigenous Community Stories’ by the Film and TV Institute of WA, and the primary consultant on several projects on Badimaya language and country.

Ollie is now completing his ‘Nganang Badimaya Wangga’, a project based on 24 yarns he tells about life growing up on his country, learning language from old people, and the cultural and historical legacy of the Badimaya people.

Person of the year – Patrick Mills

Patrick Mills is a Muralag man from the Torres Strait, Ynunga man from South Australia and sporting legend.

A National Basketball Association (NBA) Champion and a three time Olympian Patrick is a member of the San Antonio Spurs who famously won the 2014 NBA Championship.

Patrick is the first Indigenous player to represent Australian Men’s Basketball at three consecutive Olympic Games and is preparing for his record fourth Games in Tokyo 2020.

He is the youngest player to represent Australia in Men’s Basketball and he holds the Olympic record for being the overall highest points scorer at the London Olympics in 2012. Patrick has won numerous awards including ACT Young Australian of the Year in 2015 and ACT Sports Male Athlete of the Year in 2016.

Patrick uses his international profile to promote and raise awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and often takes time to share parts of his language with his teammates.

A strong role model, Patrick’s goal for the future is to be an ambassador for Indigenous people and continue educating the world on his culture. Patrick says ‘It’s who I am. It’s what I know – even more than basketball.’

Life time achievement award – Dianne Ryder

Dianne Ryder is a proud Noongar woman from Western Australia with a legendary reputation for her contribution to family, community and country.

After school, Dianne embarked on a 21-year career with the army and in 1990, she was awarded the Army Australia Day Medallion.

Since leaving the Army, Dianne has worked as a community outreach worker in Sydney and later Perth. She is currently the President of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Association of WA and heavily involved with the Indigenous Veterans Memorial Service.

Her contribution and involvement with her community has led to her being sought out to share her wisdom with government departments and politicians at a state and national level. In 2015, Dianne was nominated for Australian of the year in 2015 and for the Prime Ministers Advisory Council on Mental health.

Dianne’s favorite saying is “Just imagine …” where she challenges us all to consider how we can improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

NACCHO congratulates all the #NAIDOC2015 award winners : plus Steven Oliver Poem


The Chair of NACCHO Matthew Cooke on behalf of the NACCHO board and all members congratulate the 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and a Caring for Country project who were recognised at the National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony for their outstanding contribution to our communities and the nation.

The awards night were held in the host city of Adelaide as part of 2015 NAIDOC Week celebrations.

The 2015 National NAIDOC Award recipients are:

“ALL THE STORIES”  Behind these award winners VIEW HERE NITV

  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Tauto Sansbury, South Australia
  • Person of the Year – Rosalie Kunoth Monks, Northern Territory
  • Female Elder of the Year – Veronica Perrule Dobson, Northern Territory
  • Male Elder of the Year – Graham Taylor, Western Australia
  • Caring for Country – Warddeken Caring for Country Project, Northern Territory
  • Youth of the Year– Chris Tamwoy, Queensland
  • Artist of the Year – Daren Dunn, New South Wales
  • Scholar of the Year – Michelle Deshong, Queensland
  • Apprentice of the Year – Ashley Farrall, Queensland
  • Sportsperson of the Year – Ryan Morich, Western Australia



“Let’s accept and value the First People of this country; value their language; value their songs and let’s talk about standing on sacred ground in real terms […] Let’s lead our nation, whether we’re black, blue or pink, it doesn’t matter.

We are humans on our sacred ground here together. I need now to call for that treaty, which seems to be leaving us all the time while we talk about entering other people’s constitutions.

We have our constitution. Let our white brothers and sisters come to us and look at our constitution, too please.

Thank you very much, everyone.”

From the acceptance speech VIEW HERE

Person of the Year – Rosalie Kunoth Monks, Northern Territory


Rosalie, the chancellor of the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, has never been stronger in her fight for social justice and equality for her people.

Rosalie was born in 1937 at Arapunya known as Utopia Station in the Northern Territory where she learnt the laws of her people, the Anmatjere.

After moving to Alice Springs to attend school, Rosalie was cast in the lead role in the world-renowned Australian classic film Jedda in 1953 at 16 years old.

Later, Rosalie spent a decade as a nun in a Melbourne convent before leaving to establish the first Aboriginal hostel in Victoria. In 1970 she married, settled in Alice Springs and became involved in social work and politics.



Steven Oliver Official



Half caste, he said to me,
That I wasn’t one of those real Aborigines.
Said he spent some time with them in the outback.
Then he looked at my skin said I wasn’t even black.
I was more of a brown he went onto explain,
His voice, the whole time, a certain disdain.
He stared a bit longer then said I suppose
When I look at your face I see a bit of the nose.
Oh, I said, a bit taken aback,
To this obvious expert on everything black
My head in a muddle just trying to see
Why this man had a need to be questioning me
I thought for a minute then said to the guy
Are you waiting for me to try and justify
The complexities of identity
When it comes to Aboriginality?
Well, he said in a know it all voice
I don’t understand how you made a choice
Proclaiming that you’re an Aboriginal
When it’s obvious that you’re not really a full
Okay I thought, I’ll play this game
And proceeded to ask him what was his name?

Christopher Smith he said full of pride
A name revealing his English side
So calmly I said, my friend what are you?
He said I’m Australian mate through and through
Now come on I said, is that not a myth?
From the Great land of England comes the name Smith
Your heritage lies in a faraway land
So to say you’re from here, I don’t understand
You’re English, you said it, it’s there in your name
And that’s when all the obscenities came
You Abo, you boong, you know it all coon
It seemed that my friend had spoken too soon
Just moments ago I was not the real thing
Yet now by his words my heritage clings
Of course he was Aussie, I knew that he was
But I wanted to show him that simply because
I have other bloodlines flowing in me
It does not alter my Identity
The lifestyle I’ve lived, the way that I’ve grown
My identity is all that I’ve ever known
Just in the way he is Anglo Saxon
But yet in his heart he is Australian
I don’t question his call, I accept it as fact
So why do his questions feel like an attack
Relentlessly judging to prove he is right
When the truth is, I’ll never be white

It seemed that the man would go back to the days
When classification was all of the craze
A quarter, a sixteenth, an eighth or a half
Fuck all that shit cos I’m full in my heart
I’m full and I’m rich thanks to my history
The roots firmly planted in my family tree
Yet he wants to judge for he learns with his eyes
Too ignorant to learn from his mind
He can’t understand what it means to be black
Yet he passes his judgement so matter of fact
I bid him good day, okay that’s a lie
I wasn’t really that nice or polite
It’s just so annoying when fools come along
Who spend their time trying to prove that you’re wrong
I don’t understand what gives them this drive
Believing that they have this God given right
To tell me what I am yet don’t know my life
The arrogance just unbelievably rife
See, there are some members in my family
Who are blessed with the gene where they’re darker than me
But to say that I’m less because my skin’s not as black
Just shows how much knowledge these idiots lack
I speak the same language, share the same roots
So why from my colour do I have to prove?

To someone who never has given a day
To sit with my family and learn of our ways
Whose eyes will not open for fear they will see
How wrong that they were in labelling me
Part Aboriginal, not really full
Sickening terms that I never will
Use to describe me or those of my peers
So to those would be experts let me make this clear
What’s in my heart, the connection I feel
Is something unseen but totally real
And unless you have lived it you don’t know it’s strength
And you’ll never disprove it no matter what length
You go to because is it something so true
Just as is the Australian in you
No matter your last name whatever it be
McGuire or Tomic or Andrews or Lee
Names that arrived from a foreign shore
Yet you are Australian to your very core
So please understand when I say that I am
A proud Australian, Aboriginal Man
And because I have other bloodlines in me
It does not alter my identity.

© Steven Oliver