NAIDOC Week is drawing to a close for 2017. It has been another successful and inspiring time full of events and activities which highlight Indigenous achievement and celebrate the cultures, histories and languages of Australia’s First Peoples. The festivities for this year were launched in Cairns. The opening ceremony begun with a Welcome to Country conducted by Traditional Owners of the greater Cairns region, Yidindji Elder, Uncle Peter Hyde and Gavin Singleton from the Yirrganydji nation, and a blessing by Pastor David Gela, before the audience was treated to an array of performances from the Minjil Cultural dancers, the Bungaree Navy Dancers and the Cairns Community Mer Island Dance Group.
NAIDOC Week 2017 continued in Cairns with the official NAIDOC Ball and Awards Ceremony. The achievements of 10 inspirational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians were celebrated and recognized as they were congratulated with awards in categories spanning academic, sporting, artistic and community achievement. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dianne Ryder, a proud Noongar woman from Western Australia, for her incredible career including 21 years of army service, her current role as President of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Association of WA, a nomination for Australian of the Year 2015, and work in her community across a range of committees and local programs to improve the lives of Indigenous youth.
Artist of the Year was taken out by distinguished Gurugulu and Indinji Gimuy woman from Yarrabah in far north Queensland, Elverina Johnson. Her work, conducted in a variety of mediums and including both visual and performing arts, has been celebrated for over 30 years. Elverina believes that the arts can empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and restore a genuine sense of pride in their culture and communities.
World-renowned NBA champion basketballer and three-time Olympian, Patrick Mills was honoured with the Person of the Year award. Patrick is a Muralag, from the Torres Strait, and Ynunga, from South Australia, man who is dedicated to using his international profile to promote and raise awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
At the close of the NAIDOC Awards for 2017, it was announced that Sydney would be the host city for 2018.
Congratulations to all the 2017 NAIDOC Award winners:
- 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