The Wathaurong Co-operative has announced its Community NAIDOC winners at a Flag Raising and Community Day celebrating the start of NAIDOC Week on 5 July.
Each year, the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative community nominates people to receive NAIDOC Awards who are positive role models for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are connected to community life.
Aunty Judy Dalton-Walsh won the Nedok Yoonga award for Elder/Respected Person. Aunty Judy was nominated for her work as a language and koorie education teacher; helping bring back Wadda Wurrung language and teaching young and old.
The Ngarrwa Ngitj award for Community Person was shared by Aunty Wendy Brabham and Kristi Watts.
A respected Wathaurong community member for over 30 years, Aunty Wendy was nominated for her commitment to educating people around her and always putting community first.
Kristi was nominated for her leadership in early years learning, keeping the community culturally connected through storytelling and songs and keeping early years families connected through COVID.
Jordan Wellington won the Koolay Goopma award for Young Male Achiever. Jordan has recently undertaken a leadership role in his community through his work at a Koorie Youth Camp as a youth mentor. He aims to grow as a mentor in the future.
Stephi Murphy and Bri Apma-Hayes were joint winners of Moordeemoondeek Goopma award for Young Female Achievers.
Stephi was nominated for her growing leadership abilities in the Wathaurong community, attending the Koorie Youth Camp as a youth mentor, and showing and teaching others how to dance.
Bri was nominated for completing Year 12 through adverse conditions and studying for a Certificate IV in youth work at TAFE. She is driven and determined to learn and achieve great things so that she can work with the young mob in the community.
The theme of NAIDOC week this year was ‘Heal Country’ calling for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.