• Port Hedland girl, Sophie Coffin walked away with the title of Miss NAIDOC Perth 2018. ((NAIDOC Perth/ Tash Gillespie))Source: (NAIDOC Perth/ Tash Gillespie)
Miss NAIDOC Perth is also an Empowerment and Leadership Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
By
Rangi Hirini

28 May 2018 - 11:15 AM  UPDATED 28 May 2018 - 10:29 PM

Finalists for the Miss NAIDOC Perth take part in a six-week program to develop their leadership potential and develop their life skills by gaining self-confidence and self-esteem.

A total of nine finalists took part in the crowning of Miss NAIDOC, at the Crown Casino on Saturday.

This year’s winner was proud Nyangumarta Yindjibarndi woman, Sophie Coffin who hails from Port Hedland. The 22-year-old university student was a crowd favourite, with many of her supporters travelling from the Pilbara mining town to see her.

Miss Coffin spoke with NITV News shortly after winning the crown and said she was privileged and shocked with her win.

“It was such a surprise to me because there was so many beautiful girls,” she said.

“I’m so so honoured to receive this title and I can't wait to see what good it can bring to community and for me and my leadership.”

The Hedland local entered the competition to promote positive stories about Aboriginal women within the wider community.

“I hope to be a good spokesperson for Aboriginal women and the women from my community because I feel that’s the position I speak the truest from,” she said.

Miss NAIDOC has been running for the last six years.

Last year's winner, Yamatji woman Kearah Ronan, told the crowd her last 12 months have been "an absolute roller coaster".

“Last year I was thrilled to be crowned Miss NAIDOC," she said.

Miss Ronan was involved in a number of community events throughout the year, including speaking at schools, raising the Aboriginal flag to begin NAIDOC week, and taking part in discussions around Australia Day and the Change the Date campaign.

Throughout her reign as Miss NAIDOC, the 24-year-old always stuck behind her passion to campaign for youth justice.

Miss Ronan took part in a number of rallies over the past year protesting the overrepresentation of Indigenous kids in youth detention and was a mentor to the girls inside Banksia Hill Detention Centre. 

“Girls with dreams become women with visions,” she said, welcoming handing over her reign to the new Miss NAIDOC.

Although the program is based in Perth, many of the girls competing came from all over the state. Some came from Kalgoorlie, Port Hedland, and Geraldton - and two girls originating from Adelaide and Brisbane.

Letita Von Senden is a proud Ngaanyatjarra Narrunga woman born in Adelaide. The 18-year-old, who is also the youngest in the competition, moved to Perth recently to study pre-Medicine and Health Sciences at Curtin University.

She hopes to become a midwife and spoke of the importance of Indigenous women giving birth on country.

“They are forced to travel when heavily pregnant to give birth. They are often stuck away from home and family for extended periods- it’s very isolating for them,” she said. 

She hopes to complete her education and then travel back to her community. 

This year’s winner, Miss Coffin hopes to use her new title to help girls from all over the state. 

“I hope to mentor young girls from the rural and regional areas – to encourage them to go after their passions and their dreams regardless of the barriers, including the distance to metropolitan areas, where more opportunities might be. “

Miss Coffin is currently studying a Master of Law at the University of Western Australia and wants to be a lawyer and head back to the Pilbara to help decrease the overrepresented population of her people in the justice system.

The runner-up for Miss NAIDOC Perth went to 25-year-old Yamatji woman, Krysten Bonney; Miss Kwobordok (Beautiful) went to Murri woman Trudy Snow; and Miss Photogenic went to Balladrong Yuet woman, Stacey Loveridge.

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