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Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2019

Voice. Treaty. Truth. For 2019 NAIDOC Week is focusing on the Indigenous voice of our country. Over 65,000 years old, the Indigenous language was the first spoken on our continent. It contains the first words of love and care from a mother to her child, and the first beginnings of understanding and communication between two people.

The Indigenous voice spans science and stories, it shares knowledge and skills, and it describes the very landscape of our country. In its words we can hear an understanding that is born of a people who are the oldest continuing culture on the planet.

This week we celebrate the people who are inspiring us as they help share the Indigenous language and culture to a new generation.

Otis Carter

Winner of the Department of Human Services Aboriginal Achievement Award at the 2019 Seven News Young Achiever Awards in South Australia, Otis Carter, of Port Lincoln is an advocate for a healthy and active sporting lifestyle.

A proud Aboriginal who has successfully recovered from ice addiction, Otis took the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of the Indigenous Marathon Project and take part in the New York and Boston marathons. Otis is a support worker for the Aboriginal Families Support Services and has inspired children in the Port Lincoln community to become future marathoners. He also played A grade AFL and went on to compete in the grand finals in the Midwest Football League. Otis has a Certificate 4 in Sports and Recreation.

Zac Romagnoli-Townsend

Zac Romagnoli-Townsend, 25 of Nubeena advocates for climate justice and won the Dental South Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Achievement Award at the Tasmanian Young Achiever Awards in 2019. A proud Mutwintje man, he is a coordinator for the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Justice Network.

As part of the Network, Zac coordinates ten young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander volunteers and collaborates with the local Australian Youth Climate Coalition with non-Indigenous volunteers. Zac helps facilitate national trainings, gatherings and campaigns as a member of the national core Seed team. One campaign successfully prevented bank funding of an Adani coal mine. Zac facilitates and speaks in workshops and grassroots community organisations to build a social movement to keep all new fossil fuels in the ground.

Rikki Bruce

Winner of the Genesee & Wyoming Australia Indigenous Achievement Award and awarded NT Young Achiever of the Year at the 2019 Northern Territory Young Achiever Awards, Rikki Bruce, 28 of Stuart Park is proud to represent Aboriginal people in engineering. She completed her Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering at CDU and was awarded eight scholarships.

In 2016, Rikki became the NT Indigenous Representative for Young Engineers Australia. She uses this position to help engage Indigenous people to consider engineering as a career path. Rikki was involved with the CareerTrackers Indigenous Internship Program and the Department of Health and Education’s Young Mothers are Strong Mothers project. A former Aboriginal Student Ambassador, she aspires to be a role model for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

Jessica Duncan

Jessica Duncan, from Moree, was our 2019 Winner of the NSW Deputy Premier’s Regional Achiever Award at the Seven News Young Achiever Awards in NSW and is the youngest female to be on the Aboriginal Medical Service Board. She has volunteered hundreds of hours to the Moree Reconciliation Week Committee, helping to co-ordinate the event and MC at the Awards night.

In 2018, Jessica was the key note speaker at the NAIDOC week opening ceremony and undertook a speech about the importance of languages. Jessica can speak the Kamilaroi language and is an advocate of the Kamilaroi family history. Jessica created her own charity organisation called DONATE FOR DIGNITY, helping the women’s refuge and hospital provide care packs to over 300 disadvantaged or homeless people. 

Waringarri Aboriginal Arts

Waringarri Aboriginal Arts of Kununurra is a community owned Aboriginal centre and won the Rinehart Development of Northern Regional WA Award at the Western Australia Regional Achievement and Community Awards in 2018. With a strong vision, they deliver social, cultural and economic benefits for artists and community.

Waringarri Aboriginal Arts provides income and employment opportunities to over 75 artists, performers, cultural tour guides and arts-workers. Offering a unique tourism destination, visitors experience authentic Aboriginal culture and are able to purchase beautiful artworks and exclusive artist inspired merchandise. All proceeds are reinvested in ongoing arts and cultural projects.

Mungalla Aboriginal Business Corp

Winner of the Ricoh Australia Customer Service Award at the 2018 Queensland Community Achievement Awards, Mungalla Aboriginal Business Corp of Forrest Beach is an incorporated body of Nywaigi traditional owners. They run sustainable enterprises, training, and education projects and manage Mungalla Station, a 2000 acre cattle property.

Recognising the potential for a tourism enterprise, Mungalla Aboriginal Tours was created. The 2-3 hours tour tells the unique stories of culture and history and the restored wetlands and waterways are on show.  Mungalla Station won the National NAIDOC Caring for Country Award.

Tanisha Lovett

A talented painter and Aboriginal youth leader, Tanisha Lovett was a Finalist at the Seven News Young Achiever Awards in Victoria. A proud Wotjobaluk-Gunditjmara woman, she works full-time at Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative where she is also the Project Facilitator for Celebrating Sistas, a program that empowers women to embrace their culture using painting to express their creativity.

Tanisha uses her own time to create art inspired by her life experiences. She coordinates an Arts and Language day every Thursday to bring local Indigenous community together and explore cultural significance and history through a variety of art mediums and storytelling. Tanisha was also nominated by her siblings to the 2018 National NAIDOC awards.

People and organisations like those mentioned above bring so much to our communities. We are grateful for all their efforts, and for those of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Get involved with NAIDOC Week

Are you interested in participating in NAIDOC Week? Join in the celebrations at local community events taking place across Australia. Visit the NAIDOC Week Events web page and search your post code to find what’s on in your area. You may also want to like and follow the NAIDOC Week page on Facebook for regular updates and stories from events around the country.