Yandaarra Aunty Grace Roberts Community Awards 2022 Winners Announced

At the Jetty Memorial Theatre on Thursday July 7 2022, Council’s Yandaarra Aboriginal Advisory Committee hosted the Yandaarra Aunty Grace Roberts Community Awards.

Having run for 23 years, the Awards showcase and endorse Coffs Coast First Nations community members who are leaders in their field – people who are seen as achieving and modelling positive behaviour and goals. 

Leaders and future leaders alike were able to Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! – reflecting this year’s NAIDOC Week theme.

The Awards have continued to grow each year to become a major event for the Coffs Coast.

The nominees and winners were:

Grace Roberts Memorial Community Development Award

  • Amber Hamer
  • Lilly Glegg
  • Kaleesha Morris
  • Joshua Maguire
  • Lachlan Skinner
  • Yandaarra Advisory Committee

The winner was Kaleesha Morris.

Kaleesha works in language ecology and revitalisation. She is a strong Gumbaynggirr speaker and instructor and has worked with many First Nations communities in law and policy, strategy and governance, environmental management and cultural education.

Her favourite quote is “When we learn our native languages, we learn of ourselves. We are one and the same,” which sums up her deep connection and understanding of language and its significance to Aboriginal peoples.

“I’m very humbled to be honoured in the memory of Aunty Grace Roberts, one of our strong Goori martriarchs,” Kaleesha said.

“There’s no better model of leadership than that of our Mother, Grandmothers and Aunties. Ngaaja Garla-ngarraanga – I pay my deep respects.”

Aunty Award

  • Aunty Angela Brown
  • Aunty Kathleen Flanders

The winner was Aunty Kathleen Flanders.

Aunty Kath has been a member of Abcare Elders, SIS Program Galambila. She is a wealth of knowledge and is always willing to assist where possible. Aunty Kath is a upstanding role model for our community. She has been involved in juvenile issues at Acmena with other Elders as part of an Indigenous youth program.

Uncle Award

The winner was Uncle Johno Miers.

Johno is very passionate about what he does for his community, He is a volunteer for community radio and is a personal carer for several people it the area – a wonderful soul whom gives so much and asks nothing back.

Aboriginal Community Organisation or Business of the Year

  • One Mob Radio
  • Aboriginal Employment Strategy
  • Echidna Kids Day-care
  • Garlambirla Aboriginal Elders
  • Garby Aboriginal Elders
  • Pathfinders LTD Coffs Harbour

The joint winners were Aboriginal Employment Strategy and Garby Aboriginal Elders.

AES Employment is a great organisation for all Indigenous Australians looking for that chance to prove themselves to employers. Without this organisation, they struggle to get a foot in the door this is where AES make it possible with the support needed. 

Garby Elders are vital to keeping Gumbaynggirr culture alive and thriving. They have a big responsibility to make sure Aboriginal lands are cared for and respected. The elders have respect from people in their clan and the clans who make up the rest of Gumbaynggirr nation. They are deadly protectors and modern day conservationists.

Sports Achievement Award

The winner was Dustin Parry.

Dustin is a 10-year-old boy that has excelled at sports his whole life, he shows aptitude in cricket, soccer, golf and tennis. Dustin currently plays in the under 12s cricket team for the Diggers Cricket Club and is this season’s top batting average and bowling average for his age group. In soccer he is a great goal keeper. He is currently working on his golf skills at the Coffs Harbour Driving Range.

Arts and Cultural Achievement Award

  • Lachlan Skinner
  • Marley Morgan
  • Danielle Burford
  • Mudjai – Jeremy Devitt

The winner was Mudjai – Jeremy Devitt.

Mudjai is wise and welcoming. He expresses the beauty of culture in a way which fosters a sense of coming together in the local community in a way which is two-way strong. Always walking shoulder to shoulder in respect and brother/sisterhood. When he speaks he connects you to something deep and that two-way strong time feels closer and more possible. Mudjai puts heart and soul into community connections.

The Yandaarra Aunty Grace Roberts Community Awards are the flagship event in the NAIDOC Week celebrations on Gumbaynggirr Country. Well done to all of this years nominees and winners.

Pictured above (L-R):

Aunty Leanne Fisher (Grandaughter of Aunty Grace Roberts), Uncle Johno Miers (back row), Aunty Kathleen Flanders, Kaleesha Morris, Shonelle Pholi, Lauren Dootson (back row), Dustin Parry, Jodie Dootson. Missing from the picture is Mudjai – Jeremy Devitt.

Photo credit: Marley Morgan Photography