Here are our 2024 NAIDOC Award winners that are keeping the fire burning

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul7,2024
The NAIDOC Awards are a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strength, excellence, beauty, intelligence and commitment.
Selected from a pool of almost 200 nominees, candidates are nominated by people who have witnessed first-hand the difference they make in the community, with the winners selected by the NAIDOC committee themselves.

Here are this year’s winners!

Lifetime Achievement Award – Aunty Dulcie Flower


Source: Supplied / NAIDOC

Aunty Dulcie Flower AM was born in Cairns in 1938. Aunty Dulcie’s mother was of the Meriam People of Torres Strait.

Aunty Dulcie has left an indelible mark on Australian history through her unwavering dedication to activism, advocacy, and community development.
Aunty Dulcie relocated to Sydney to advance her career by studying midwifery and working for several years as an operating room nurse.
During this time, Aunty Dulcie was invited by her Aboriginal colleagues to meet community members, leading her to join the Aborigines Progressive Association, led at the time by the late Elder Bert Groves.
This led to the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI), for which Aunty Dulcie served as Conference Delegate and eventually General Secretary.

Aunty Dulcie Flower’s contributions have been recognised on a national scale, culminating in her appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2019 for her significant service to the Indigenous community and her pivotal role in the 1967 Referendum Campaign.

Person of the Year Award – Aunty Muriel Bamblett


Source: Supplied / NAIDOC

Aunty Muriel Bamblett is a proud Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung, Boon Wurrung Elder.

Aunty Muriel has dedicated her life to advocating for Aboriginal children and families and has been CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) since 1999 where she ensures culture is embedded in all the work they do.
Overwhelmed by the recognition, Aunty Muriel said she was in disbelief at being awarded Person of the Year, and acknowledged all the nominees.
“All the people nominated tonight, there are no losers in the room” she said. “We are so proud of everybody that was nominated, and all the stories.”
Aunty Muriel also acknowledged those who serve in the public service, education, justice and family violence.
“I honour you because this award would not be possible without all of those areas working together for better outcomes.”
Aunty Muriel’s impactful leadership has led to significant policy and legislative reforms. She lobbied successfully for major changes to Victorian laws including the recognition of connection to culture and community as critical to the best interests of Aboriginal children.

In 2019, Aunty Muriel received the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the Indigenous community in Victoria as an advocate for the self-determination and cultural rights of children. She was also inducted into the Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll and the Victorian Honour Roll of Women and received the Women’s Electoral Lobby Inaugural Vida Goldstein Award.

Female Elder of the Year Award – Aunty Millie Ingram


Source: Supplied / NAIDOC

Aunty Millie Ingram, a Wiradjuri Elder from Cowra NSW having grown up on Erambie Mission.

Aunty Millie moved to Redfern in the 1950s seeking work opportunities. It was here she enrolled in tertiary courses, worked in the community and later joined Department of Aboriginal Affairs for 13 years advocating for change in education and land rights.
On being awarded the Female Elder Award, Aunty Millie said it was an honour.
“I will honour this for the rest of my days,” she said.
In her acceptance speech, Aunty Millie also acknowledged her family, who have fought for the rights Aboriginal people for decades, including her mother and older siblings who are pictured in the iconic photo from the Day of Mourning protest in 1938.
Alongside her family, Aunty Millie founded the first Aboriginal Community Controlled early childhood centre, Murawina, and later Wyanga Aboriginal Aged Care program.

A much loved Elder in the Redfern community, living and working there for over 60 years, Aunty Millie continues to serve her people in supporting Elders, youth organisations, and women in business.

Male Elder of the Year Award – Kim Collard


Credit: NITV

Kim Collard is a Balladong/Wadjuk Elder of the Noongar Nation.

Kim first worked as a boilermaker and a Western Australian police officer before joining academia for a decade at Curtin University and later founding two of Australia largest Indigenous-owned businesses, Kulbardi and Kooya Australia Fleet Services.
In 2014 Kim founded The Bibbulmun Fund, an Indigenous-led philanthropic initiative designed to facilitate positive change by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people and raised $1.4 million to support 19 charitable organisations across Australia.

Kim is an inspiration to his community, whose work is instrumental in providing opportunities for First Nations peoples to uplift themselves and their communities.

Sportsperson Award – Alex Winwood


Credit: NITV

Mr Alex Winwood is a proud Noongar man, born in Bunbury Western Australia. Alex is a world class boxer, having ranked high in several international boxing championships throughout his career.

In his acceptance speech, Alex acknowledged his wife and his family.

“I’d like to thank my family for turning me into the man I am today,” he said.

“It’s a testament to them for giving myself role models to look up to in life.”
Starting in 2013, Alex’s has already had several impressive highlights in his boxing career. Alex participated in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and in multiple world championships.
Alex is currently ranked 2nd in the world by the World Boxing Council, 5th by the International Boxing Federation, and 8th by the World Boxing Organisation. Alex is positioned to become the fastest Australian man to achieve the title of World Champion.

As well as being an exemplary sportsperson, Alex has become a role model for his community, often working with local schools to inspire students to pursue their interests. Alex’s deep connection to culture and pride in his heritage is communicated in everything he does.

Youth of the Year Award – Dante Rodrigues


Credit: NITV

Dante Rodrigues is a proud Tiwi Islander with a mix of Timorese, and Portuguese heritage and a professional fighter with titles in various martial art disciplines.

Speaking to NITV after receiving the Youth Award, Dante said he was lost for words at the honour.
“It feels surreal, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.
“It means a lot to my family as well, being a Blackfulla NAIDOC event… I’m still out of words to be honest, but I think it’s good to have a little bit of acknowledgement for the work that I’ve done and the other contestants were just as deserving as me, so I really appreciate this and I’m honoured to have it.”
Dante started fighting at just 12 years old and competing against adults at just 14. He was the first Aboriginal kickboxer and territorian to represent Australia at an Olympic level, where he brought home silver.

Outside of the ring, Dante is an advocate for mental health awareness and runs health and wellbeing programs for the youth in Northern Territory through “One Percent Better Communities,” a business he co-founded with his cousin, Jahdai Vigona.

Creative Talent Award – Naarah

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Credit: NITV

Naarah is a Gija woman from the Kimberly who grew up in lutruwita/Tasmania. Naarah is an actor, performer, singer and creative who recently won 2024 Young Australian of the Year in Tasmania.

In 2023 Naarah was successful in her application for a Roberta Sykes Scholarship and Disney Theatrical Scholarship and just this week graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London with a Master of Musical Theatre with distinction as the first Aboriginal person to study at the institution.
In her acceptance speech, Naarah revealed she will make her debut in London’s West End in a few weeks.
Reflecting on the barriers she has had to overcome in the entertainment industry, Naarah said: “If you can’t get a seat at the table you make your own table.”
Speaking to NITV after receiving her award, Naarah spoke of the importance of storytelling.
“I love storytelling, I’ve always been a passionate storyteller, as the oldest continuing culture in the world, it’s something we’ve done for quite a long time,” she said.

“So to be able to continue doing that in musicals, in plays, radio and theatre every single day of my life is it’s an absolute honour.”

Caring for Country and Culture Award – Alick Tipoti


Credit: NITV

Alick Tipoti is a Koedal (crocodile), a Zugubaw Baydham (seven stars shark constellation and a Kuki Guuba (northwest monsoon wind through his father’s side from Badhu. He is a Koedal, Thabu (snake) and Dhoeybaw (wild yam) through his mother’s side from Saibai.

He is a fluent Kala Lagaw Ya language speaker (KLY & KKY dialects), a cultural leader and advisor. Alick is passionate about preserving his native language and reviving cultural traditions through his art and dance.
Alick has promoted his culture through art & dance nationally and internally for over 20 years.
Alick has influenced a whole generation of young emerging Torres Strait artists and has significantly revived the art of mask making in the Torres Strait.
He believes that art and science are the two most important practices all first nation people should embrace.
Art to keep the cultural fire burning and Science to learn about caring for country into the future of global warming and climate change.

Receiving the award on Kaurna Country, Alick said his thanks in Kriol, highlighting how important language is to identity.

Education Award – Walpiri Education and Training


Warlpiri teachers and traditional owners of the Newmont Tanami gold mine site set up WETT in 2005 to use royalties from the mine to improve education and training outcomes for yapa (Warlpiri people) in the Tanami Desert.

For almost 20 years, WETT has supported a range of partnerships and programs that align with Warlpiri education priorities in Yuendumu, Willowra, Nyirrpi and Lajamanu.
In their acceptance speech, WETT representatives shared their vision for the future of Warlpiri people:
“Our vision is for the future generation to be strong in the knowledge of culture, Country and language,” they said.

“To be strong role models and to stand up for our communities. Our language, culture and decisions will be respected. Our voices will be heard. We will have the same opportunities as everyone else. Our people will be confident, knowledgeable, disciplined, healthy and respected. They will have good roles and jobs, as will the generations to come.”

Innovation Award – Tui Nolan


Source: Supplied / NAIDOC

A proud Gudjal man, who grew up in Sydney, New South Wales, Tui Nolan has dedicated the past nine years of his career to advancing machine learning models.

Tui completed a Master of Science and a PhD in Statistics at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
His innovative work in machine-learning has been applied to forecasting housing market trends, predictive economic modelling, improving robotics and satellite data, and enhancing data quality and accuracy.
In 2020, Tui spent three months helping to develop RoboSimian – a limbed robot originally designed to aid recovery operations in disaster zones, but is now being repurposed for space exploration.

He was one of the first Australian students to attend NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a pilot program to create career pathways for Indigenous science, technology, engineering and maths students.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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