For the very first time, the National Dreamtime Awards kicked off in Sydney as an opportunity for First Nations peoples from across the country to unite and celebrate excellence in the categories of sport, the arts, academia and community achievement.
More than 600 people attended the event, which was held at The Star Event Centre on Friday, with the likes of Jessica Mauboy, Anthony Mundine, and Linda Burney grace the ruby red carpet. Throughout the night, hosts Luke Carroll and Shari Lee Niliwil Sebbo kept the crowd entertained with their charming nature and warming presence.
A highlight of the night was without a doubt a performance by former Indigenous hip-hop group from Newcastle - Local Knowledge, who reunited to play their hit song Blackfellas, more than 10 years after the group disbanded.
This year’s winners included all sorts of recipients - from students to community leaders, activists, business owners, athletes, and international entertainers, the award night facilitating a platform for local heroes, talent, and organisations to be placed in the limelight.
Jessica Mauboy gave an emotional speech after being awarded Female Music Artist, explaining that growing up in Darwin with four sisters; all she wanted to do was perform on the stage.
“Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to sing, that was a dream…I wanted to write music and really have it come from the heart.”
Graciously acknowledging the other nominated women in her category she congratulated them and told the crowd, “we love what we do and we try to express who we are as naturally as we can.”
Despite the several talented people and organisations recognised and celebrated on stage, only one award recipient during the entire night received a standing ovation.
Clinton Pryor got a standing ovation with the crowd cheering and clapping for a long time and spoke about the difficulties he faced during his journey for justice. And that person was Dreamtime Person of the Year – Clinton Pryor.
The Wajuk, Balardung, Kija, Yulparitja man, also known as the spirit walker, trekked across country from Matagarup/Heirrison Island in Perth, all the way to Parliament House in Canberra. He followed songlines and visited local communities in a bid to address the many injustices against the First Nations people of this land.
“I thought I was going to hand out the award, but I didn't know I was going to win the award,” the spirit walker exclaimed.
He thanked his family, friends and admin team for helping him with the walk for justice and for supporting him throughout his journey.
“I can’t be more proud to have this. This is the first award in my life that I achieved... a big one too!”
An idea that started a few years ago finally became a reality for Gomeroi man and Aboriginal business owner, Matt Rose who is a proud founder of the Dreamtime Awards. He and his brother George dedicated their time, effort and soul into a ceremony that recognised people from the community.
“I felt as though we just don’t have enough things that celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence so I decided to create one that recognised people doing great things in the community,” Rose said.
“It was a sold out event filled with actors, sports stars, musicians and local community members, so to see everyone come together was fantastic.
Mr Rose assured NITV that from the positive feedback and the success of the night, it’s safe to say we can look forward to the Dreamtime Awards returning to Sydney next year.
2017 Dreamtime Award Recipients
Dreamtime Person of the Year – Clinton Pryor
Dreamtime Lifetime Achievement – Rachel Perkins
Dreamtime Elder – Uncle Bill Yidumduma Harney
Male Music Artist – Gawurra
Female Music Artist – Jessica Mauboy
Male Actor – Rob Collins
Female Actor – Shari Sebbens
Media Person of the Year – Stan Grant
Male Sportsperson – Eddie Betts
Female Sportsperson – Ashleigh Barty
International Sportsperson – Patty Mills
Best New Sports Talent – Josh Addo-Carr
Community Person – Jeffery Amatto
Business of the Year – Something Wild
Community Organisation – Miromaa
Teacher of the Year – Nathan Towney
Institute of the Year – ACU Yalbalinga Indigenous Higher Education Unit
Student of the Year – Jessa Rogers