NAIDOC celebration honours Indigenous leaders

Published on 23 July 2019

Blacktown City Mayor Stephen Bali MP awards Jamie Matthews the 2019 Blacktown Aboriginal Citizen of the Year..jpg

More than a thousand people gathered at Blacktown Showground recently for the NAIDOC Family Day which saw leaders within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community acknowledged for their work.

Blacktown City Council presented five awards recognising the talent and service within the Indigenous community.

Blacktown City Mayor Stephen Bali MP said the opportunity to acknowledge and recognise these leaders is a testament to their hard work within the community.

“NAIDOC week has been, and will always be, a very important event for the entire Blacktown community,” Mayor Bali said.

The 2019 Blacktown Aboriginal Citizen of the Year was awarded to Jamie Matthews.

Jamie is at the forefront of Aboriginal healthcare having worked with Wentwest Primary Health Network and the Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service. Jamie dedicates his work to ensuring Western Sydney maintains a great health service and program for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The 2019 Blacktown City Aboriginal Organisation of the Year was awarded to Marrin Weejali Aboriginal Corporation.

The Marrin Weejali Aboriginal Corporation is primarily a specialist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander drug and alcohol service. The corporation provides group and individual counselling, anger management programs, parenting programs, and supports families who have had, or are at risk of having, children removed by FACS. They are the only service within Blacktown to provide cultural healing alongside more traditional therapeutic techniques.

The 2019 Blacktown City NAIDOC Award was awarded to Aunty Stella Cunningham.

Aunty Stella is an elder from Doonside and is part of the Wolkara Elders Group. Aunty Stella has volunteered for the Australian Red Cross in Blacktown for 6 years.

Once a month Aunty Stella attends the Juvenile Justice Centre and talks to all the young women in the detention centre.

For the Past 3 years, the Wolkara Elders group has been involved in the acknowledgement to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Services Men and Women on ANZAC Day in Lalor Park, and the Sorry Day in Mitchell Park.

The 2019 Blacktown City Aboriginal Sports Person of the Year was awarded to Shaylee Bent.

Shaylee, 18, plays for The Mount Pritchard Mounties Rugby League Football Club. This year Shaylee was given the opportunity to represent her community and family in the Indigenous Woman’s All Stars team in Melbourne against the New Zealand Maoris. Shaylee also played for the winning NSW City team in the National Women's Rugby League Championships.

The 2019 Blacktown City Aboriginal Achiever of the Year was awarded to Jade Jackson.

Jade is the volunteer coordinator of the Young Mother's Art group at the Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation. The group began as simple mother's group facilitated by an art therapist. Jade recognised that while the healing aspects of the program were paramount, the women of the group were under financial stress. Jade saw the commercial opportunities for the women, and the group has since evolved into a go-to place for Aboriginal art in Western Sydney.

Jade is driven by a commitment to create employment opportunities for Aboriginal women and to preserve, promote, and pass on her culture.

Mayor Bali said: “These awards are symbolic of the talent we have within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

“All the recipients should be proud of their achievements and I look forward to seeing their work within the community continue to evolve.”