NAIDOC Week celebrations have well and truly kicked into gear across the country, with a walk across the bridge marking the start of the week in the Murraylands.
A crowd of over 100 people marched from the Murray Bridge RSL clubrooms, over the road bridge, along Bridge Street and to the council chambers, where people of all ages and backgrounds continued celebrations.
As part of the annual event, nine awards were handed out to outstanding local Aboriginal people by Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Aboriginal Heritage manager Eunice Aston and Rural City of Murray Bridge mayor Brenton Lewis. Among the award winners were Derek Walker, who was named male Elder of the Year, and Sandy Wilson and Vicki Hartman, who shared the female Elder of the Year award.
The Deadly Nannas gave a beautiful performance of songs and lullabies they had written, and a flag raising ceremony took place.
The event rounded out with morning tea at the chambers, then lunch and a family fun day was held at Ninkowar Aboriginal Culture and Conference Centre.
NAIDOC legends honoured
Nine outstanding achievers have been recognised for their work in the community as part of the NAIDOC Week celebrations.
Eunice Aston was “honoured” to hand out the awards to each recipient, with the help of mayor Brenton Lewis and Georgie Trevorrow.
Male Elder of the Year was presented to Derek Walker, who is described as an “amazing community leader and role model”.
“Not only is he the largest employer of Aboriginal people (in the region), but he is community-minded, contributing his own resources for the collective benefit of all,” Ms Aston said.
“He has developed so many opportunities and resources for young people in this area and is unconditionally supportive of the success of the Ngarrindjeri nation.”
Female Elder of the Year was shared between Sandy Wilson and Vicki Hartman.
Ms Aston said both were active members in Ngarrindjeri country.
Ms Wilson’s work one committees such as the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority and Moorundi Community Controlled Health Service, along with her dedication to Ninkowar and her passionate Welcome to Country performances, earned her this award.
“A founding member of the Deadly Nannas and a member of the local Language group, this Elder who is heavily involved in the community is a worthy recipient. Her warmth, love, acceptance and smile bring joy to all she meets,” Ms Aston said.
Ms Hartman has worked in education for over 30 years, including at Tinyeri Children’s Centre. She is also on many boards around the region.
“Touching so many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal families during her time (at Tinyeri), this lady brings kindness, wisdom, generosity and love to the people she meets. Since retiring, she has filled her time volunteering in many community projects and organisations,” Ms Aston said.
Other award winners were Ethan Paterson (male Youth of the Year), Katie Aspel (female Youth of the Year), Lynette Kartinyeri (Worker of the Year), Ebony Marshall (Sportsperson of the Year), Emily Miller (Junior Encouragement Award), Robert and hilda Day (Carer of the Year), Rural City of Murray Bridge community development team (Organisation of the Year), and Rosslyn Richards (Artist of the Year).