Nine incredible First Nations women have been selected as finalists in this year’s Miss NAIDOC Perth competition, with the hopes of being crowned the winner in less than a month's time.
With big dreams and a fire in the belly of each, it’s clear the judges have a big job ahead of them.
Over 500 young women applied with hopes of a chance at the title, all representing a number of different mobs with a diverse range of aspirations for their futures, and the future of their communities.
The grassroots non-profit competition offers empowerment support and advice to young Aboriginal women, assisting both personally and professionally to enhance self-confidence and leadership skills.
Participants say they’ve benefited greatly from the initiative, even without the winner being announced yet.
“All of us girls have something so special to give to one another. So far, this journey has given us a sisterhood," said 2021 finalist Kiahara Jacobs.
Proud Yamatji, Noongar & Koori woman Caliesha Edney says she wants all Aboriginal youth to have access to opportunities and programs like some that she has been privileged to participate in “to prevent our youth from falling through the gaps.”
Currently in her first year of a Bachelor of Health and Sciences at Curtin University, 20-year-old Caliesha says she wants to be a health researcher to help make a real change in creating a brighter and healthier future for her people.
With strong role models like her mother and grandmother, who Caliesha says she sees within her every day, she also credits her older brother for his unconditional love and support, saying she is grateful for his guidance and the bond they share.
Encouraged by family and friends to enter the Miss NAIDOC program. Caliesha says she is beyond grateful for the opportunity, saying her self-confidence has grown so much and is proud to be called a role model by her family.
“I will no matter what, make a positive change in my people’s community.”
Landsdale born Darycha Lynch is an 18-year-old Noongar woman from Perth and descends from the Whadjuk, Yued and Nyinka and Ballardong mobs.
Darycha says because of the strength and resilience imparted to her by her great-grandmother, she is proud to educate others and take on a leadership role in her community.
Darycha hopes to pursue a career in education so she can empower young people, break stereotypes of Aboriginal people and “take risks and to keep learning, as it is the best way to keep our deadly culture thriving.”
Ballardong/Wardandi Noongar woman Breanna Jacskon-Reid credits her parents with instilling pride and love in her, allowing her to walk in western culture with confidence and the pride and knowledge of her heritage on both sides of her family.
Currently studying to complete a degree in Social work at Curtin, Breanna also works as an Executive Coordinator of a not-for-profit organisation.
Building resilience after enduring serious bullying in high school and dropping out at 15, Breanna says she wants other mob who have dealt with unease because of identity struggles to “remember the colour of your skin does not define who you are.”
Honoured to be chosen as a Miss NAIDOC Perth Finalist, the 29-year-old says she wants to use her position of privilege to advocate for better social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people.
26-year-old Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Yawuru and Nyul-Nyul woman Skye Lockyer is a creative storyteller who comes from a strong line of solid matriarchs who have inspired her to help share people’s stories through film and art.
Currently studying a Master of Community Development, Skye says she wants to be a youth mentor and create leadership programs and education resources for young First Nations people to help with healing and trauma.
Skye says pride and empowerment of young people are important to her, having grown up as a queer woman who was made to feel ashamed of her identity.
Skye is passionate about education, creating opportunities for young mob and better access to relevant, culturally appropriate mental health care, particularly for LGBTQIA+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Proud Nyiyaparli/Whadjuk woman Shakirra Ugle says she aspires to motivate every Aboriginal girl to love their skin and their culture and hopes to one day “become even half the woman” her grandmother was, saying she was a stern and respectful woman who taught Shakirra old school traits she still tries to live by today.
Being taken from her family by child protection at ten, 21-year-old Shakirra wants to pursue her passion of working with children in the system, saying being removed resulted in serious trauma and feelings of great loss when she couldn’t be with her family to grieve her grandma.
Shakirra feels her life experience could help other kids in the system and says if she won Miss NAIDOC Perth, she would use her platform to engage with and advocate for kids in the community who face similar challenges that she faced growing up.
A proud descendant of the Yinggarda, Nyul-Nyul and Minang people, Tiarna says she takes every chance she can to connect with country because it instils pride, gives her a great sense of belonging and feels powerful to walk the same lands her ancestors have occupied for centuries.
Mum to a ten-month-old son who she loves "beyond words", Tiarna wants to work with youth to break generational cycles of abuse after she “personally witnessed too many innocent souls wrestle with the addictive nature of alcohol and substances,” saying she wants to help reduce the statistics of abuse in the next generation.
“I am so excited and grateful to be on this personal and cultural journey as a 2021 Miss NAIDOC finalist. Already it has challenged me, made me feel empowered, vulnerable and beautiful," Tiarna said.
“Painting on canvas, reading books for hours, old music from times before me, pen to paper scribbling thoughts, plans to make a difference and strong desires to change the world. Welcome to the little parts of me,” writes 24-year-old Noongar woman Daisy Humphries.
Currently in her final year of an undergraduate degree in Health Science, Daisy said she found strong role models in her grandparents, with their power, strength and sacrifice helping shape her life up to this point.
Admitting she was embarrassed to confess her Aboriginal heritage earlier in life, Daisy says losing her Pop helped her to learn of his remarkable achievements, which gave her a greater sense of pride and empowered her to embrace her culture proudly.
Daisy says the Miss NAIDOC competition will give her the skills to become a true visionary and leader so she can follow her passion of advocating for all women, but Aboriginal women in particular.
Kiahara Jacobs Hampton
Kiahara Jacobs Hampton is a proud Ballardong, Geawegal, Wanaruah and Kamilaroi woman who says being the eldest girl of seven siblings gave her a great sense of responsibility to be a strong woman, like the strong Aboriginal women who have come before her.
At almost 22, Kiahara is currently studying a Bachelor of Primary Education at Cowan University and says her sole purpose is to become the first Aboriginal teacher in her family.
“I believe education, particularly around Aboriginal education will be the key driver for change in our communities and a fundamental component to the empowerment of our youth at a primary school level,” Kiahara said.
Kiahara says she thinks Elders hold the greatest knowledge, and wants them to have a space in the education realm, and credits the program for surrounding her with “empowering women who want to do good for themselves and our people.”
22-year-old Kae Cox is in her final year of a Bachelor of nursing and has strong connections to the Nirmunburr and Yawuru peoples. Kae says she wants to give back to her people and help break toxic cycles affecting Aboriginal communities like violence, suicide, drug, alcohol abuse and lack of opportunity.
The second eldest grandchild of 16, Kae says she always felt the need to be a role model for her younger siblings and cousins and wants our generation to destroy the stigma placed upon Aboriginal people.
Kae views her elders as her “why,” her backbone and she takes empowerment from knowing her ancestors guide her every day. She says “through this program and my career, I hope that a small change can make an enormous impact on the future of our people.”
Miss NAIDOC Perth will be crowned on Saturday July 10 at a gala event welcoming members of the community. Tickets go on sale June 26.