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Celebrating the 2024 NAIDOC Awards winners

The Bugle App

Donna Portland

08 July 2024, 7:00 AM

Celebrating the 2024 NAIDOC Awards winners Aunty Muriel Bamblett on the black carpet with NAIDOC's co-chairs after being named Person of the Year (Photo ABC News Tiarna Stehr)

Just ahead of NAIDOC week, the winners of the 2024 NAIDOC awards were announced on 6 July. 


Held at the Adelaide Convention Centre, almost 2,000 people attended the The National NAIDOC Week Awards Ceremony. The awards celebrate the outstanding contributions and excellence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across ten award categories, including art, culture, education and training, sport, environment and leadership.


With over 200 nominations submitted, 28 finalists were selected. The winners in each award category include:


National NAIDOC Person Award


The award celebrates individuals who have demonstrated excellence in making a significant difference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, both locally and nationally. It honours past and current achievements.


This award was won by Aunty Muriel Bamblett, a distinguished Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung, and Boon Wurrung Elder. 


Aunty Muriel, the longstanding CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), was honoured for her tireless advocacy for children in out-of-home care. She emphasised the need for more work to protect children from being disconnected from their community and culture. 


"We're actually starting to work to keep children at home, which is where they should be," she said.


"We're teaching mainstream Australia that Aboriginal people can do better for our people, no matter whether it's in justice, education, family violence, or health. We’ve got to learn from Aboriginal ways of doing things.”



National NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award


This award recognises an individual's lifelong commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, celebrating their achievements, leadership, and extensive community involvement at local, regional, and national levels.


Awarded to Aunty Dulcie Flowers, AM, a Meriam woman. Aunty Dulcie has been a relentless advocate for her community, playing a pivotal role in improving health outcomes for First Nations peoples. 


"I'm very proud to think the committee chose a Torres Strait person for the first time, but this will open the gates for other people," she remarked.



National NAIDOC Female Elder Award


The award acknowledges respected and inspirational role models and leaders who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It also recognizes their involvement in these communities at local, regional, and national levels.


Awarded to Aunty Millie Ingram, a respected Wiradjuri Elder from Cowra, NSW, who grew up on Erambie Mission. 


In the 1950s, Aunty Millie moved to Redfern in search of work opportunities. She pursued tertiary education, engaged in community work, and spent 13 years with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, where she advocated for change in education and land rights.


Aunty Dulcie Flowers, second from left, with Female Elder of the Year Auntie Millie Ingram, second from right, after the ceremony (photo ABC News Tiarna Stehr)


National NAIDOC Male Elder Award


The award celebrates inspirational role models and leaders who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and have been actively involved in their respective communities at local, regional, and national levels.


Awarded to Kim Collard, a respected Balladong/Wadjuk Elder of the Noongar Nation.


In 2014, Collard established The Bibbulmun Fund, an Indigenous-led philanthropic initiative aimed at facilitating positive change by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people. The fund has raised $1.4 million, supporting 19 charitable organisations across Australia.



National NAIDOC Sportsperson Award


The award honours accomplished athletes or sporting leaders who have promoted and developed sport within their communities and served as inspirational role models for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community.


Awarded to Alex Winwood, a proud Noongar man from Bunbury, Western Australia. 


Since starting his boxing career in 2013, Winwood has achieved several milestones. He represented Australia at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and has competed in multiple world championships. 


Winwood is currently ranked second in the world by the World Boxing Council, fifth by the International Boxing Federation, and eighth by the World Boxing Organisation. 



National NAIDOC Youth Award


This award recognises exceptional young people who are aged 16-25 years. It seeks to recognise young people who are inspirational role models for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader Australian community.


Awarded to Dante Rodrigues, a proud Tiwi Islander with a mix of Timorese, and Portuguese heritage, who was the first Aboriginal kickboxer to represent Australia at an Olympic level, where he won silver.


Outside of the ring, Rodrigues is an advocate for mental health awareness and runs health and well-being programs for the youth in Northern Territory through "One Percent Better Communities," a business he co-founded with his cousin, Jahdai Vigona.



National NAIDOC Creative Talent Award


The Creative Talent Award recognizes writers, poets, illustrators, and artists in traditional, contemporary, and experimental visual arts, crafts, and design. It also celebrates outstanding individuals and groups in the performing arts sector, including music, theatre, and dance. 


Awarded to Naarah, a Gija woman from the Kimberley who grew up in lutruwita (Tasmania). Naarah is a multi-faceted creative, excelling as an actor, performer, and singer. Naarah recently won the 2024 Young Australian of the Year in Tasmania.


Reflecting on the barriers she has overcome in the entertainment industry, she said, "If you can't get a seat at the table, you make your own table."


"I love storytelling. I’ve always been a passionate storyteller, and as the oldest continuing culture in the world, it’s something we’ve done for quite a long time," she remarked. 


"So to be able to continue doing that in musicals, plays, radio, and theatre every single day of my life is an absolute honour."



National NAIDOC Caring for Country and Culture Award


This award recognizes the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities who care for, protect, and nurture Country and culture. It honours those who are revitalizing or teaching language, dance, and traditions, conserving lands and waters, and protecting the environment for future generations.


Awarded to Alick Tipoti, a Koedal (crocodile) and Zugubaw Baydham (seven stars shark constellation) through his father’s side from Badhu, and a Koedal, Thabu (snake), and Dhoeybaw (wild yam) through his mother’s side from Saibai. 


Tipoti is a fluent speaker of Kala Lagaw Ya (KLY & KKY dialects) and serves as a cultural leader and advisor. He is passionate about preserving his native language and reviving cultural traditions through his art and dance. For over 20 years, Alick has promoted his culture nationally and internationally through these mediums.



National NAIDOC Education Award


The award recognizes exceptional individuals and groups in the education sector, including early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary, vocational, and other education groups, who have made a significant impact on the lives of students and communities. It honours those who have demonstrably contributed to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


It was presented to the Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT). Established in 2005 by Warlpiri teachers and traditional owners of the Newmont Tanami gold mine site, WETT uses royalties from the mine to improve education and training outcomes for yapa (Warlpiri people) in the Tanami Desert.


In their acceptance speech, WETT representatives said:

"Our vision is for the future generation to be strong in the knowledge of culture, Country, and language. To be strong role models and to stand up for our communities. Our language, culture, and decisions will be respected. Our voices will be heard. We will have the same opportunities as everyone else. Our people will be confident, knowledgeable, disciplined, healthy, and respected. They will have good roles and jobs, as will the generations to come."



National NAIDOC Innovation Award


The award recognizes those who have developed new and creative ideas, applied forward-thinking strategies, and utilized Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge in unique ways. It also acknowledges efforts to create positive change for people and communities, highlighting commitment, adaptability, and innovative thinking that enriches communities and beyond.


Awarded to Tui Nolan, a proud Gudjal man who grew up in Sydney. 


Nolan holds a Master of Science and a PhD in Statistics from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Over the past nine years, he has dedicated his career to advancing machine-learning models. His innovative work has been applied to forecasting housing market trends, predictive economic modeling, enhancing robotics and satellite data, and improving data quality and accuracy.


In 2020, Nolan contributed to the development of RoboSimian, originally designed for disaster recovery operations and now repurposed for space exploration, showcasing his impactful contributions beyond traditional boundaries.


Next year, the National NAIDOC Week Awards will be held in Perth.