Because of Her, We Can
Local Women Leaving Legacies
In celebration of this years' National NAIDOC Week theme, Because of Her, We Can, NITV asked the public to nominate exceptional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in their community.
These are submitted photos and testimonials of everyday women doing extraordinary things, whether they be changing government policy, advocating for social justice or being the backbone in their family home. These are women who have made an impact in their communities and to all those around them.
Carol Vale, NSW
Carol Vale, a Dunghutti/Gumbaingirrwoman, grew up on an Aboriginal mission.
Through persistence, she has created a very successful career in government, spanning three decades; a career which has allowed her to now run her own successful business, where she inspires others, working across a breadth of projects, many of which have a focus on creating positive change for Aboriginal people.
Carol is a strong family woman and loves spending time with her three daughters, son and nine grandchildren.
Frances Mathyssen, VIC
Frances Mathyssen (nee Briggs)
Born on Cummeragunga Reserve, Frances Mathyssen (nee Briggs) is of the Dhulanyagen Ulupna Clan, of the Yorta Yorta.
She was just 10-years-old when she and her parents participated in the historic Cummeragunga walk-off.
All her life, Frances has been actively involved in building community relationships. She has marched for women's equality, land rights and Aboriginal rights rallies, always with her children close by.
She is the co-founder of many Indigenous-based organisations including the first Statewide Welfare Committee and the Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative. She has also been a part of the committees which co-founded the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Aboriginal Child Care Agency, and the National Council for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
In August, Frances will be 89. She is mother of 10 children, grandmother of 35, great-grandmother to 37, and twice great-grandmother of three. Frances and her husband Bill have fostered over 100 Aboriginal children.
Samantha Rose Duncan, NSW
Samantha Rose Duncan, works as a Case Worker for Indigenous youth at the Tamworth Local Aboriginal Lands Council.
She is a role model for many young people in the community, often working with schools and youth services.
This year Samantha came third in the Tamworth Country Music Queen Quest and simultaneously was nominated Miss Congeniality —the first Indigenous woman to do so in over 30 years.
Sadly, Samantha has endured a lot of heartache in recent months, with the tragic death of her cousin Tane Chatfield who died whilst in custody last year, throughout the turmoil that she has experienced, she has continued her important work in the community and proved herself to be a strong, resilient and determined young woman.
Edie Shepherd, VIC
Wiradjuri woman, Edie Shepherd is a deadly young activist working everyday to improve things for mob.
Edie co-founded the Blackfullas for Marriage Equality campaign during the same-sex marriage referendum last year.
She is currently advocating for the return of Stolen Wages in Victoria and challenging the controversial Community Development Program. She is a fighter, a trade union organiser and a youth worker. She only rests when she is required and she is an inspiration to young mob all over the country.
Deborah Mary Evans, ACT
Deborah is a Stolen Generations survivor from the Gija nation. She raised four children as a single mother and went to university as an adult with a young family, so that she could give her family a better life.
Deborah is highly respected in her community. She has had Ministerial appointments to Education Advisory Committees, has been appointed to the Domestic Violence Prevention Council, was a member of the Galambany Circle Sentencing Court and is now a member of the Sentence Administration Board (Parole Board) in the ACT.
Through a growing concern with the raising incarceration rates of our people, Deborah has established a community organisation called Tjillari Justice, a Family Justice Centre. The organisation is now being reviewed by international universities as a model of best practice.
What makes Deborah so special is that she manages several chronic illnesses including, mobility issues, has tirelessly worked for over four years to establish Tjillari as an unpaid volunteer. She takes her cultural responsibilities seriously.
Lillian Bowen, QLD
Lillian Bowen grew up speaking Guugu Yimidhirr, a language of the Cape York clans, and the first Aboriginal language recorded in writing.
With Guugu Yimidhirr generally ending in the grandparent's generation, Aunty Lillian is teaching the language to primary school students at Hope Vale School, near Cooktown QLD, to preserve this ancient language for future generations.
Aunty Lillian has worked tirelessly to ensure this program is a part of the culture component within an education module in the the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy and Education Queensland. Today, three Cape York schools have introduced the program.
Dallas Smythe, WA
Dallas is a talented young artist from the central desert region, WA. Based in Warakurna with her husband and son, Dallas grew up watching her grandmother —renowned painter and senior Tjanpi Desert weaver, Nora Holland— create beautiful artwork which inspired her to develop her own creative practice. Under the mentorship of her grandmother, Dallas has become one of Tjanpi Desert's rising stars.
Only weaving fibre art for a few short years, Dallas has earned growing national recognition for her fun, figurative sculptural works and beautiful baskets. Dallas likes to experiment with new materials and styles and draws her inspiration from family and community life.
Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, SA
Dr O’Donoghue is a Pitjantjatjara/Yankuitjutjara woman and true trailblazer who has worked nationally and internationally forthe right of Indigenous peoples everywhere.
She became the ﬁrst Aboriginal trainee nurse at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, was the founding Chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, and, in 1976, was the ﬁrst Aboriginal woman to be awarded an Order of Australia. These are some of many achievements and awards of her long career.
A member of the Stolen Generations, she was reunited with her mother after 30 years. She has committed herself to work fearlessly for change and improvement in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Maxine Gore, WA
Maxine Gore has been working for the Save the Children organisation in Kununurra, WA for over seven years.
She has worked as a youth worker in the after-school Youth Hub service, the YES program (an alternative youth engagement education program) and as a Team Leader on the Night Patrol Bus. During her work on the patrol bus, Maxine had picked up and assisted thousands of at risk children and delivered them safely home or to an alternative family household if no-one is home or home is not safe.
Maxine is known as “Nan” or “Aunty” to most of the street present youth and has a fantastic rapport with young people in Kununurra. She goes above and beyond for their needs, and makes sure that their welfare is taken care of.
On any given night, Maxine may face suicidal youth, intoxicated youth and adults, and fighting and violence. Despite this, Maxine keeps her cool and tries her best to engage with individuals to identify problems and ensure they are safe.
Without Maxine’s knowledge and influence, Kununurra would have a much lesser impact in youth engagement. She is a great leader and role model for young people in her community.
Chanel Satour, WA
Chanel Satour is a Gurindji/Arrente woman from the Northern Territory, now living in Perth WA with her partner and children.
Chanel is one of the small number of women working Australia's mining industry, working for Rio Tinto, which she has done for nearly 10 years.
She does this whilst also being a loving mother of four, with the youngest just 9-months-old. Chanel juggles motherhood, TAFE studies and her FIFO job.
Just last month, Chanel successfully completed her apprenticeship as an electrician. Not only was this a challenge given her busy lifestyle, but breaking down barriers by being a woman in what many consider a typical male trade. Throughout her training and work placements, Chanel has been the only female and the only Aboriginal person on the job.
Chanel became a young mother at 17-years-old and despite many obstacles, she has always maintained her mother's words that, 'regardless of whatever is going on in your life, employment is the most important thing to maintain'.
Chanels success provides opportunities in her children's life and they will no doubt grow up believing 'Because of Her, We Can'.
Rosalyn Sultan, VIC
Rosalyn Sultan is a proud Eastern Arrente/Gurindji woman. She is passionate advocate for social justice and has played a key role in a recent community effort in Melbourne to create a lasting remembrance for the Stolen Generations, of which she is herself a member.
She educates many about the rich cultures and history of First Nations peoples by leading programs in cultural awareness training for many years. She is kind and compassionate and contributes to the Melbourne community, including supporting refugees, in many meaningful ways
A public artwork, Remember Me, was unveiled in Fitzroy, Melbourne, on the 20th anniversary of national Sorry Day.
Until she retired earlier this year, Rosalyn spent seven years working for the national anti-poverty group the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
Rebecca Johnson, QLD
Rebecca Johnson is the co-founder of the IndigiLez, a women’s leadership and support group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lesbian, same-sex attracted and bisexual women.
She is also is a member of Tekwabi Gizz ('all of us connected'), a national collaboration of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander people and organisations working with LGBTIQ, sistergirl and brotherboy peoples throughout Australia.
Rebecca’s many achievements include creating inclusive services training for LGBTIQ service providers in Queensland, leading consultation for the LGBTIQ National Ageing and Aged Care project, the Queensland Police Service Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer Program, the national mental health and suicide prevention program MindOUT and other state-based suicide prevention programs.
Rebecca sits on national advisory bodies across many departments. She is always working hard to create pathways for inclusion for all in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous government and non-governmental organisations.
Gail Fletcher, NSW
Gail Fletcher is a Kamillaroi woman who grew up in Moree, NSW.
Despite growing up in a racially divided town, Gail never let discrimination get her down. In fact, it just lit the fire in her belly to do better, and be better.
Gail has carved the way to give her family opportunities she never had growing up. She is the stone pillar of family and supports all with everything she has got.
She has been nothing but an inspiration to her daughters and extended family, as she has battled racism and discrimination in order to become the confident person she is now.
Sheila Humphries, WA
Sheila Humphries is a Noongar Elder and acclaimed artist.
Sheila began painting as a means of processing the trauma she experienced as a young girl. She was forcibly removed from her family as a part of the Stolen Generations and spent her childhood in orphanages and at the New Norca Mission, WA.
Sheila speaks openly to community about her experiences as a Stolen Generations survivor. Addressing listeners powerfully with, "The only time I remember being with my mum and dad was for three months of my life".
Despite her hardship, her community engagement and acclaimed paintings reflect healing, reconciliation and faith.
She is the mother of eight, grandmother of 30 and great-grandmother of 18 children.
Natty Bird, NSW
Natty is a proud Anaiwan woman and a single mum of three children and a foster mum of many.
Up until now, Natty has cared for five babies, showing them nothing but unconditional love and acceptance. More recently, she has taken in two teenage girls, whose mothers tragically passed away last year. Natty continuously steps in as a role model, offering guidance and support whenever needed.
She is an active member of her local church and has given her time to support many causes over the years. Her community adores her, and she is certainly an everyday woman doing extraordinary things.
Tess Sambo, WA
Tess Sambo cares for everyone.
She continuously stands up for mob, and recently, she led the march for young Elijah Doherty in Kalgoorlie for the grieving community.
Tess has suffered two heart attacks, but continues to work hard for the rights and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Tess inspires her whole community.
Trish Frail, NSW
Trish Frail is a Ngemba woman from the small community of Brewarrina in north-west NSW.
Trish has been instrumental in a number of community initiatives both, through her work and in her spare time.
At the end of last year Trish discovered the Brewarrina Shire were putting in a tender for a proposal to build nuclear waste deposit near the town. She felt there was little to no consultation with the large Aboriginal community, and led a series of community meetings to inform people. She started a committee that held protests both in Brewarrina and Sydney, as well as door knocked to get signatures on petitions (including knocking on the doors at NSW Parliament!). The community are still fighting the Shire about the proposal, led by Trish.
Additionally, Trish has worked as a youth worker to support disengaged youth to attend school, has led protests in town against domestic violence, initiated Brewarrina's International Women's Day events, and has been involved in a number of community projects, such as seeking grant funding for the Brewarrina skate park. She has also assisted youth in the development of the Brewarrina Mission Open Day.
A mother of five, Trish has been through much adversity to provide a better life for her kids. Now she works tirelessly to support community members, particularly young women, who face the same challenges shehad throughout her life.
Elise Muller, VIC
Elise is a Wiradjuri/palawa woman. Elise is on the autism spectrum and she is a huge advocate for equal opportunity.
She is a regular guest speaker at local schools, inspiring other children on the spectrum.
Elise works three jobs including running her own personal training business and was recently selected for the Western Bulldogs women's VFL team. She is an incredible young woman and huge inspiration in her community.
Cecelia Eades, WA
Cecelia Eades of the Wagyl Kep tribe is described as a 'mother to many'.
She continues to teach her family about resilience, and is known for her kindness, compassion and empathy.
All her life, she has worked hard to provide for her family, never holding a grudge and moving forward at any opportunity. She always encouraged her children to, "stand up and be counted for".
Karen Beetson, NSW
Karen Beetson is a Mandandanji woman, working as the Aboriginal Deputy Director of South Western Sydney Health.
Kareen has for over 26 years in Aboriginal communities in south-west and western Sydney in various departments including employment, education, juvenile justice and the health sector.
She has been a mentor for many, particularly junior staff, and community members, always demonstrating she has an enormous heart of gold, and is known for putting herself after others.
Her important work has helped articulate the effects of intergenerational trauma and highlight the importance of education. Many in her community would not have been able to fulfil their needs with their struggles, or how to work within modern-day societies' expectations, if it weren't for Kareen. She has improved the lives of many.
Annarella Sebbens, NT
Annarella Sebbens, is a Bardi and Jabirr Jabirr woman living on Larrakia land, Darwin NT.
Because of Annarella or "Aunty Anna", as she’s more commonly known, many students and families survive, succeed, and flourish through their high school years and beyond.
Working in education, Aunty Anna has fought for and listened to young people. She continuously gives both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students a voice and makes sure they're showcasing their talents at every opportunity.
She has modelled and facilitated the kinds of positive relationships the schools should have with their students and their families.
She empowers Indigenous families to participate in education and ensures their contributions are valued, and ensures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids belong in a place where many are not seen to belong. Aunty Anna will challenge anyone who makes them feel like they don't.
Aunty Anna is still at it, and every year another group of students enter schools a little easier because of the model she provides. Students leave knowing their worth, their potential, and that they can because of Aunty Anna.
Gail Mabo, QLD
A strong, brilliant and passionate woman who continues the work of her Mother Bonita and Father Koiki.
Amongst all her commitments and responsibilities, Gail is also the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day Ambassador for 2018.
Cheree Toka, NSW
27-year-old Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka from Sydney, single-handedly began a campaign to raise the Aboriginal Flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge permanently; 365 days a year.
Her online petition, has gain national momentum, so far attracting 86,000 signatures.
Her passion and commitment is something to be reckoned with and she continues to inspire communities and other activists.
Beverly Coe, NSW
Beverly Coe, is a Wiradjuri woman from Erambie Mission, Cowra NSW.
Aunty Bev manages the All Blacks Basketball Club in Redfern. In 2008, the club started off with four teams and now it has 10 teams (possibly 11, next competition). Aunty Bev dedicates her time every Thursday for training and every Saturday for the competitions games. She also coaches three of the 10 teams and will often bench for kids who parents can’t make it to the games.
To get the All Blacks Basketball Club up and running, Aunty Bev had to negotiate with South Sydney Aboriginal Corporation resource centre, the Aboriginal Housing Company and the City of Sydney Basketball Association. Aunty Bev is continuously knocking on doors to obtain more funding to allow the kids the opportunity to not only compete in the game, but to have full uniforms proudly decorated in Aboriginal colours and designs.
Aunty Bev also encourages and teaches kids in the community about health and wellbeing, and the helps them build a pathway into successful careers in adulthood. Her basketball club is a community activity which helps many kids stay off the streets and out of antisocial behaviour, and instead they can be active and build life-long friendships. It’s not just the kids that enjoy the basketball, but the families and the whole community.
Aunty Bev is one of the kindest, loving, caring and loyal women in the Redfern community and she is very passionate about her role as a manager. She is loved and respected dearly.
Gaye Swannell (nee Eades), WA
Gaye Swannell (nee Eades) is an inspiration to many. Despite facing many challenges in her life, she always been the rock of her family and wider community.
She has not only brought up her own children but those of her extended family, always acting as a positive role model and giving young ones the best opportunities.
She is actively involved in the community, particularly giving attention to the prison system and incarceration.
Gaye sadly lost her own mother at 9-years-old, a tragedy which made her the strong person she is today. She maintains her family's connection to their south-west Noongar heritage. Gaye not only shares knowledges and culture with her own family, but gives talks to local schools as an Elder of the community.
Janice Jago, TAS
Janice is a palawa woman, mum of three, grandma of three and aunty to the whole community.
Raising her siblings from a young age, Janice has always been a nurturer. She is a carer to her unwell sister, a wonderful parent-in-law and loyal friend. She is fun loving and always has a hug and a cup of tea waiting for anyone in need.
In the past four years she has lost over 45 kilos and is preparing for her first 10 kilometre walkathon.
Pat Anderson, ACT
Pat Anderson is an Alyawarre woman known nationally and internationally as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples.
Her career spans multiple roles in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing, and includes co-authoring the Little Children Are Sacredreport, and co-chairing the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council.
Pat was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia in 2014 and won the 2016 Australian Human Rights Medal,among many other awards. She is currently the Chairperson of the Lowitja Institute, and it’s because of women like Pat that people and organisations can continue to value the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Deborah Milera, VIC
Deborah Milera is a Narungga woman doing an amazing job of inspiring women and girls at the Rokewood Netball Club in Victoria.
She is actively involved in the local club, not only playing as a high energy athlete, but coaching juniors and being a supportive mother, watching her daughters play.
She is an excellent role model both on and off the court. Deb gives players a kind of support that inspires them to believe in themselves. She is wonderful at encouraging women and girls to strive to achieve the best they can, teaching them to work hard and to keep putting in the extra effort.
Deb is proud of her heritage, and shares knowledge and recognition of her culture with the community.
Frances Bodkin, NSW
Frances Bodkin is a descendant of the D'harawal people of the Bidiagal clan. She is an educator of D'harawal knowledge and holds a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences with five majors, one of which is Environmental Sciences. She has published three books on D'harawal culture, stories and natural resources.
She uses the knowledge passed down through her mother, and combines her university education and unquenchable journey of lifelong learning, to bring a holistic understanding of the environment.
Aunty Fran works tirelessly with groups as young as pre-school age right through to adult learners, sharing ethno-scientific knowledge passed down by traditional clans and which is being increasingly referred to by modern research, in order to promote a deeper understanding of how to care for our natural environment.
Aunty Fran is an example of living in two cultures, and succeeding at both, all the while being a dedicated mother, wife and grandmother.
When the D'harawal meet, she wears her impressive feather cloak. She humbly presents many Welcomes to Country, and when Aunty Fran speaks her language it is such a sweet musical sound.
Sarah Neal, NSW
Sarah Neal is a young Wailwan woman, with family connections to the Warren and Gilgandra area, NSW.
She was raised in the Lake Macquarie region near Newcastle, and has strong connections to the community and local area.
She is passionate about Aboriginal health and works as a Practice Development Officer, in the Aboriginal Chronic Care team with Hunter New England Local Health District. Sarah is dedicated to improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal people in her local community.
She is an inspiration and role model to both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff within her team, and the wider community, and generously shares her love and knowledge of Aboriginal culture with all.
Fay Carrol, NSW
Aunty Fay Carroll is a Ngunnawal/Wiradjuri woman born and raised on Gadigal Land in Sydney.
Aunty Fay works as an Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer for the Department of Education’s Aboriginal Education and Wellbeing Team. She has worked for the Department of Education for 25 years in various Aboriginal education roles; ten years as the Aboriginal Education Officer (AEO) at Glebe High School; and 16 years working in school services as the Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer.
Aunty Fay has held many community committee roles, positions and has volunteered many hours to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.
Aunty Fay frequents the 520 schools within the Ultimo Operational Directorate in Sydney and has extends her passion for Aboriginal education beyond public schools and many large events, universities, global companies, government and non-government organisations.
She has facilitated hundreds of Welcome to Countries and cultural awareness sessions over the years, and is well renowned as a gifted storyteller.
Aunty Fay has never been afraid to maintain cultural integrity amongst her peers and community. She firmly believes that Aboriginal education is everyone’s business and continuing cultural is an important message that Aunty Fay delivers when facilitating cultural awareness training.
Marybeth Sheen, NSW
27-year-old Marybeth Sheen is a proud Gamilaroi women of the Barrija clan.
Having gone through her own trials of domestic violence, she is a resilient woman and advocates for change in society, even with three young children as a single parent.
She works for The Hive Mount Druitt, a school readiness organisation. She strives for all children in the 2770 postcode being school ready, having an education to ensure better outcomes and has enhanced life outcomes.
Marybeth respects the land she works and lives on, and encourages everyone around her to do so too. She project managed 'Adopt-A-Park' in her suburb with the support of her Blacktown City Council where local workers, community members and children help her keep the local reserve clean once a month.
Marybeth is also project managing Willmot community’s first-ever NAIDOC event where she is working collectively with local organisations to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Marybeth is passionate about her mob and culture. She is always educating others when she can, and dreams of reconciliation in this country.
Dr Jackie Huggins, QLD
Jackie Huggins is a Bidjara and Birri-Gubba Juru woman from Queensland who has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for over thirty years.
Jackie is a celebrated historian and author who has documented the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout the decades. In 2001, Jackie received a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Throughout her career spanning over four decades, Jackie has played a leading role in reconciliation, literacy, women’s issues and social justice. As Co-Chair of National Congress, Jackie has twice gone to the United National Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, in addition to advocating for a suite of issues domestically with a particular focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Simone Arnol, QLD
Simone Arnol, a Gunggandji woman from Cairns QLD, is leaving an amazing legacy in the Indigenous fashion design and arts sector, not just locally in Far North Queensland, but nationally and internationally as well.
Simone is a visual artist and fashion designer who incorporates recycled materials into her work to express her connection to Country.
Her journey is intergenerational as she credits family and Elders as having a profound eﬀect on her work and for providing a primary foundation for her designs that are based on signiﬁcant ancestral stories, and natural colours emanating from the Earth. She acknowledges it has been ‘an honour and privilege' to learn the traditional methods of dyeing, weaving and dress-making. Simone is completely committed to keeping culture alive by passing down the Elders' legacy.
Additionally, by re-purposing items such as ghost nets and using natural mediums, Simone also demonstrates the importance of environmental sustainability for future generations.
Tegan Alesha Burke, QLD
Tegan Burke is a proud 20-year-old Kalkadoon woman from Cloncurry, North Queensland.
There are limited employment opportunities for Indigenous youth in Far North-West Queensland, however, after Tegan completing her schooling, Tegan successfully gained an Indigenous school based traineeship at 14-years-old with Westpac Banking Corporation.
In 2017 at the age of 18, Tegan became the youngest personal banker in the Corporation's history. Tegan is working hard toward her goal to become the first ever Indigenous CEO for Westpac.
She is a regular guest speaker at schools, sharing her personal experiences to influence young Indigenous students to consider career patheways.
She is a true leader and her positive attitude and career achievements influences many Indigenous people looking to make change in the world.
Kristi Lee, ACT
22-year-old Githabul (Bundjalung) woman, Kristi Lee works as a guide at Mulligan's Flat Woodland Sanctuary, ACT.
Kristi has an undergraduate degree in ecology and particularly loves reptiles. She inspires others to care about conservation and works with ecologists to monitor reintroduced threatened species wildlife like quolls and bettongs.
She works incredibly hard to develop and incorporate Indigenous knowledges and stories into her outreach and tours, and runs unique engaging events in the community like dot painting and 'Kids on Country', where she takes young ones out to learn about the woodlands from an Indigenous perspective. This year, she ran the Reconciliation Day event at the Jerrabomberra Wetlands.
Elaine Drahm, NT
Elaine is a dedicated foster and kinship carer who has opened her heart and home to more than 20 vulnerable children and young people in the NT.
With over 30 years’ experience directly working in the child protection out-of-home-care sector, Elaine is an example of the invaluable role of foster and kinship carers play in Darwin and remote areas. As a carer, Elaine provides long-term and short-term care for children and mentors and supports other carers through providing essential respite care.
Elaine also contributes her knowledge and experience to drive change through lobbying and systemic transformation. The most significant change Elaine added her voice to, was in the development of the Charter of Rights for all Foster and Kinship Carers in the NT.
Elaine strongly believes in family connections and expresses the value of culture to all children coming into her care. She actively participates in the reunification and family restoration wherever possible to ensure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are able to return to their families and communities, and that they maintain an awareness of their heritage, their language and ensuring their cultural identity.
Linda Wondunna-Foley, SA
Linda Wondunna-Foley is a strong Wathaurong woman with a soft heart, who is both humble and inspiring.
She is an exceptional mother who raises her children on her own whilst working full time in her dedicated professional role as a university lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges.
Linda is also a visible member of the LGTBIQ+ community providing hope to many in the community who are seeking a resilient and successful role model. She is a leader in her community and inspires both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike.
A passionate educator, Linda has worked hard to achieve significant positive change through her belief in the importance of Indigenous education and connecting culture to education.
She has always displayed a strength in understanding the needs of at-risk students and has designed educational models of care with a strong focus on cultural protocols, cultural safety and resilience to help ensure successful educational retention and outcomes. This has contributed towards the success of numerous Aboriginal students in the higher education setting
Niningka Lewis, NT
Niningka Lewis is a talented multidisciplinary artist from the APY lands in central Australia.
Niningka began exploring her creative practice with fibre art, learning to spin wool and weave rugs, at the Ernabella Craft Room where she worked after finishing school in Pukatja (Ernabella) SA. Niningka is a very talented painter, punu (wood) carver and has been a pioneering fibre artist with Tjanpi Desert Weavers since its inception in 1995.
She is credited with creating the first life-size Tjanpi grass sculpture of a person and was one of the first Tjanpi artists to introduce coloured patterns in her weaving by experimenting with dyed raffia and wool.
This year Niningka has been nominated as a finalist for the 2018 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), Australia’s longest running and most prestigious Indigenous art award, for her stunning woven sculptural work. Niningka’s distinctive artistic style is innovative, constantly evolving and gives audiences an insight into central western desert community life.
Veronica "Donna" Smith, NT
Aunty Veronica (Donna) Smith is of Wakaya descent on her mother's side and Jaru/Bunuba on her father's.
Donna regularly puts her own needs aside her needs to care for family and friends. Last year, her mother survived a serious car accident and Donna has moved to Tennant Creek NT to care for her. She also cared for her father before he passed away. She always has a kind words and a gentle way with her whole community.
She has always worked in caring roles and giving back to community; working in child protection, healing work, and in art and language centres. Helping others is something Donna has instilled in those around her and she inspires her community to be there for one another.
Aunty Donna rises in the space of adversity, and is a talented storyteller, producing many many beautiful and wise poems shaped by her living experiences.
Karla Brady, QLD
Karla Brady is a Torres Strait woman and beloved wife, sister, aunt and mother of four jarjums.
She is the current CEO of the nonprofit organisation Inala Wangarra, in Brisbane's south. She's is heavily involved in her community, including helping with the administration of local football clubs and youth programs.
Karla also chairs the board of Hymba Yumba School, an independent education institution grounded in Indigenous cultures, and is an inspiration to her mob.
Florence Onus, QLD
Florence is a descendant of the Birri-Gubba and Kairi/Bidjara clans.
Florence has dedicated most of her life to the Townsville and wider Indigenous community through her advocacy and commitment to Indigenous education, media and the Stolen Generations.
Florence is a member of the Stolen Generations herself, and was the inaugral Chairperson of the ATSI Healing Foundation, established after Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generations. Florence continues her involvement with the Healing Foundation as the Chair of the Stolen Generation Reference Group.
Florence’s vision for a healing centre in Townsville came to fruition and she established Healing Waters, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counselling and wellbeing service providing culturally appropriate support and counselling.
Florence has also recently been working in the education sector, providing support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, cultural training to staff and community engagement at James Cook University. She also lectures to students studying social sciences at tertiary, secondary and primary levels on the impacts of past policy on Indigenous people, with a focus on the Stolen Generations.
Florence is a keen advocate for social justice and helps young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who have had their children removed through current child protection policies.
Maria Tjanangu Campbell, SA
Because of Maria, Mimili Anangu School can deliver a strong language program. They can deliver relevant and engaging cultural lessons. And they can successfully navigate challenging situations.
Maria is the Pitjantjatjara language coordinator at Mimili Anangu School and was the first female student to complete the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) at the school. She has paved the way for her sisters to complete SACE and continues to be a role model to the younger students.
Taylor Clarke, NSW
20-year-old Taylor Clarke is Gundungurra woman from Warragamba, NSW, currently working with the environmental organisation, the Colong Foundation to preserve approx. 4,700 hectares of world heritage listed area.
Roughly 300 Gundungurra sites including two especially significant art sites are at risk if State government continues developments in the area.
Taylor is active in NAIDOC day events and this year has helped in enabling the Aboriginal flag to be flown in the town's center for the first time.
She is a former recipient of the Western Sydney NAIDOC award and last year, was Wollindilly's Australian of the Year.
Taylor inspires people with her passion for culture and educates the local community on Indigenous issues, culture and local history. Because of her, Warragamba will have a rich and vibrant NAIDOC week.
Jenny Joyce-Daley, QLD
Jenny Joyce-Daley, is a Ma-Mu Woman from Innisfail North Queensland. She is a wife and mother who tirelessly works for the betterment of her people.
She is the Director of Mamu Aboriginal Corporation, working on various projects, writing successful submission for funding to ensure their is employment and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Jenny has sacrificed a lot of family time to study, focusing on governance. She recently graduated her Certificate 4 in Governance at Tranby College in Sydney, during which she was the recipient of the Prestigious Kevin Cook Award for academic excellence.
Jenny works, on average, up to 100 hours per week for a minimal amount of money (nearly all of it voluntarily), in order to make better lives for all Ma-Mu People.
She is held in high esteem among the local community, as well as at State and Federal Level. Everyone who knows Jenny is extremely proud of her, integrity, her commitment and her passion for improvement.
Sisters of Resistance!
By broadcasting and live vlogging, the four women, Jinny Jane, Jennah Dungay, Elizabeth Wymarra and Angeline Penrith bring issues direct from the black streets to the black airwaves.
NITV would like to thank all those who submitted and contributed to this digital photo album.
Producers: Sophie Verass, Matthew Webb & Amelia Gilbert
NITV acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia, in particular the Cammeraygal custodians of the land which we work on.
For more NAIDOC stories, features and content. Go to: https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/naidoc