• Miranda Tapsell, actress on Love Child. (AAP)Source: AAP
NITV has chosen to celebrate and pay homage to these five Indigenous women who displayed strength in campaigning for social change, fighting back against critics, and lending their voice to issues they believed in throughout 2015.
NITV Staff Writer

16 Dec 2015 - 5:09 PM  UPDATED 1 Sep 2020 - 1:31 PM

1. Miranda Tapsell

Star of television and screen Miranda Tapsell trailblazed this year, making headlines on a number of occasions and speaking out about race issues.

Tapsell used her acceptance speech at the 57th TV Week Logie Awards in June as an opportunity to call for more racial diversity on national television.

The Larrakia and Tiwi woman and actor accepted her award for “Most Popular New Talent” while urging the entertainment industry to “put more beautiful people of colour on TV and connect viewers in ways that transcend race and unite us".

“Put more beautiful people of colour on TV and connect viewers in ways that transcend race and unite us."

The Sapphires and Love Child star later took the lead in a performance, aired on the ABC's The Weekly in August, singing a tongue-in-cheek song about victim-blaming and rape.

Tapsell told media she hoped the satirical song would shift the focus of public awareness campaigns to perpetrators instead of victims.

"I don’t want that fate for any of my cousins, any of my family, my friends," Tapsell told NITV News during the year. "So I thought, 'why not take part in something positive and something that’s going to going to be empowering for women'."

In October, Tapsell also told Nine’s The Verdict she didn’t identify as Australian “because when I go to Australia Day I don’t feel like an Australian that day, because essentially people are telling me that I can’t be a part of that.”

Asked if she would happily sing the national anthem she said, “I’d mumble it…. out of the corner of my mouth maybe.”

Her views drew a mixed response on social media.

2. Nova Peris

Since Senator Nova Peris became the first ever Indigenous woman to be elected to parliament in 2012, she has been the victim of racial hatred and abuse. Much to the politician's credit, she's also called out these hurtful acts.

Outspoken about the surge of racism against her, she came to the defence of AFL star Adam Goodes earlier this year when he became the target of racism.


Then in November, the Labor senator and former Olympian, opened up to Annabel Crabb on the ABC’s Kitchen Cabinet on the racism she's experienced as an Aboriginal woman and how the abuse has impacted her.

NITV also liked how Senator Peris posted photos of the British pop star Ed Sheeran wearing an Aboriginal T-shirt throughout his Sydney concert in December.

Senator Nova Peris speaks out against racism as she is targeted on Facebook
As Senator Nova Peris delivers a stirring speech against racism, an ugly irony on display.

Olympian-turned-politician Nova Peris is a strong black woman who knows no bounds and has set a benchmark for all women to follow.

As part of the Australian women's hockey team at the 1996 Olympic Games, she was the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal.

She later switched to athletics and contested the 1998 Commonwealth Games and 2000 Olympic Games.

3. Kirstie Parker



The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence appointed Kirsty Parker as its new CEO this year.

The Yuwallarai woman, also the current co-chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, has become the second person to head the Redfern-based centre since it was started five years ago.

Throughout the year, Parker was also a driving force in moves to have Indigenous only conventions on constitutional recognition.

National Centre of Indigenous Excellence appoints Kirstie Parker CEO
Yuwallarai woman Kirstie Parker has been appointed CEO of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, making her the second to hold this position in the organisation's history.

Parker is a co-chair of the Close the Gap Campaign and works to achieve equality in health outcomes and life expectancy for Indigenous Australians. She's also a Board Member of Reconciliation Australia.

In her early years, Parker was a journalist and editor for the Koori Mail.

The Koori Mail stimulated national discussions and debates on the social, political and economic issues that impact Indigenous Australians.

4. Rosalie Kunoth-Monks



2015 was a big year for Kunoth-Monks who won ‘Person of the Year’ at the 2015 NAIDOC awards in June.

The award was an acknowledgement of her many years spent at the heart of cultural, political and social debates in Australia.

The activist was named a National Finalist for the Australian of the Year award earlier this year, and continues to fight for social justice and equality for her people.

Most recently, Kunoth-Monks has been outspoken on the issue of funding cutbacks to outstations in Western Australia in what she sees as the "neglect" of Aboriginal people by the government.

Inspiring song celebrates Indigenous activist Rosalie Kunoth-Monks
One of the country’s most renowned Aboriginal rights activists, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, has been honoured with a powerfully emotive tribute song posted on YouTube on Sunday.

Rosalie has spent decades working on sovereignty and First Peoples access to basic rights such as their land, language and culture. 

The activist was born in 1937 at Utopia Cattle Station (Arapunya) in the Northern Territory.

Ms Kunoth-Monks played 'Jedda' in the 1955 Australian classic film, clearing the way for other Indigenous actresses to follow and challenging stereotypes held of Indigenous women.

5. Deborah Cheetham



The Yorta Yorta woman and soprano Deborah Cheetham AO made a loud political statement earlier this year when she decided not to perform the Australian National Anthem at the 2015 AFL Grand Final.

She later went on to call for Australia to embrace its maturity on the issue of the national anthem.

“I do think that the voice of ignorance does speak very loudly,” she told NITV News.

“But I think that there is a growing silent majority who I believe won't stay silent for much longer. I don't think Australia wants this identity.”

Cheetham also told NITV that she encourages Australians everywhere to insert the full set of lyrics that Judith Durham developed in 2009 in place of what is now currently recognised as Australia’s national anthem.

Deborah Cheetham urges Australia to embrace its maturity
Yorta Yorta woman and soprano Deborah Cheetham AO is stirring Australia to embrace its maturity following her decision to not perform the Australian National Anthem at the 2015 AFL Grand Final.

Judith Durham's new anthem: 'Lyric For Contemporary Australia'
The internationally acclaimed singer, Judith Durham, has re-released her own version of Advance Australia Fair, which she hopes will be one day approved and adopted as the national anthem.