Coming together for NAIDOC Awards

AWARDED: Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation NAIDOC Award winners. (Sophie Conlon: 418045)

Sophie Conlon

Nine people and one group have been recognised in the Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation NAIDOC Awards which recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions and excellence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week was heralded in in Mount Gambier/ Berrin with a community celebration on Monday, July 8.

Hundreds of people gathered at Cave Gardens/ Thugi for a smoking ceremony, mayoral reception and flag raising ceremony before marching down Commercial Street to Pangula Mannamurna for the awards presentation and lunch.

Danni Smith was presented the person award for consistently demonstrating exceptional support and dedication to First Nation people in her community.

The lifetime achievement award went to Kathy Beck for her work in education and supporting First Nations students and their families.

Aunty Dawn Cardona was presented Female Elder of the Year for her longstanding commitment to cultural knowledge.

Male Elder of the Year was awarded to Uncle Lenny Gollan for his courage in truth telling during the Voice to Parliament referendum.

Scarlett Bilney was awarded the sportsperson award for her passion for netball, showing leadership and commitment in the Amazon Netball team and SE Nations Netball Team.

Denzel Carter was presented the youth award for growing into a leader for his peers.

The creative talent award was given to Trae Richardson for his work in promoting Indigenous artist on local radio.

The caring for Country and culture award was presented to Fiona Dargin for sharing her traditional knowledge of the local ecosystem, ensuring it is maintained into the future.

Amie Brant was presented the education award for her devotion to her midwifery studies and working to change the traditional First Nations birth journey.

The innovation award was presented to SE Nations Netball organisers, who created the group after noticing a gap in the market.

Mr Richardson said it was overwhelming to win the creative talent award.

“I didn’t expect to be nominated for my radio show, but I appreciate whoever nominated me and helped me get this award,” he said.

He said on his program, the Nunga Radio Show, he interviewed Aboriginal artists, highlighted their music and just had a lot of fun.

The program was one that had been around for a while, but was struggling for presenters when Mr Richardson came on board.

“I don’t really know how to put in words. It’s very exciting,” he said.

Mr Richardson encouraged people to call into his show, which aired Sundays between 6.30 and 8.30pm, to have a yarn or request a song.

“Stay Blak, Loud, and Proud,” he said.

Ms Brant said she was shocked to win the education award.

“It wasn’t expecting it, I’m not sure if I’m more deserving than anyone else, but it’s a privilege,” she said.

She said she was inspired to become a midwife after being there when her sister was in labour, but was never sure it would happen.

“Then I started at UniSA with the Aboriginal Pathway Program, got a GPA to do my nursing, I did nursing first and then have gone into midwifery,” she said.

From being unsure if it would ever happen, Ms Brant was only one placement away from graduating.

While being overwhelmed with the award, Ms Brant said NAIDOC Week was about “recognising Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people, celebrating our differences, our uniqueness and coming together as one”.