Congratulations to our NAIDOC Award winners

Mildura’s Koori community recognised the contributions of its leading citizens in an awards night ceremony to wrap up NAIDOC celebrations on Saturday night.

About 160 community-members attended the NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Celebration) Ball and awards night.
The highlight of the ceremony was the induction of a highly-active and much-loved community leader into the local Indigenous Honor Roll.
The late Lauris McCormack was inducted into the Honor Roll, which recognises the contributions of long-serving community leaders as well as being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication and commitment to education, young people, families and community.
Terry Brennan was awarded the Aunty Bev Peter Award for Community Excellence in recognition of his role as a mentor and a strong community leader who has for the past 10 years committed himself to supporting his community around the effects drugs and alcohol on individuals, families and the community.
They were among seven community achievers recognised at Saturday night’s ceremony.
“It’s been a fantastic NAIDOC celebration – just a really positive and happy month of celebration of our community and our Koori culture,” said the event coordinator Simone Spencer.
“The awards night in particular allows us to recognise the contributions and commitment of some really special people who are taking us forward, and others who are developing into leaders of our community for the future.”
The awards night was the highlight of what has been a hugely-successful 2018 NAIDOC celebration.
“It’s great to watch community involvement in NAIDOC growing each year,” said MDAS CEO Rudolph Kirby.
“It’s exciting to see more organisations coming on board and people looking forward to getting involved in celebrating our culture each year now.”
Ms Spencer said it was pleasing that so many mainstream organisations and community-members getting involved in NAIDOC Week as organisers and participants.
“It’s a chance to learn more about our art, dance and storytelling and more people of all backgrounds are getting on board with NAIDOC every year.  We are loving that,” he said. 

2018 NAIDOC Award Winners

Aunty Bev Peter Award – Community Excellence –
(Sponsor Department of Justice and Regulation)

Winner:  Terry Brennan

Terry Brennan is a proud Kamilaroi man who was born in Moree NSW in 1971.  Terry and his family moved to Mildura when he was 11.  Terry is father to his only son Zackery and a grandfather to Mason, however for the past 18 years he has also been a respected step-father to 6 children and 7 grandchildren with his long-term partner Jenene. For the past 10 years Terry has committed himself to supporting his community around the effects of drug and alcohol and the impact it has on the community. Terry has suffered significant trauma in his own life which seen him struggle to complete his education and opted to gain an apprenticeship in building.  Terry went on to complete his chosen trade and was then employed with SJ Weir for a considerable time erecting buildings and homes throughout Mildura.  Terry’s life was travelling well and it was not long before he started a family, but then the relationship broke down and the fact that his only child was no longer living with him took its toll.  Terry found comfort in the use of Alcohol and other substances to numb the pain of his loss.  Terry has now turned his life around and worked really hard to overcome his drinking and drug use and is a testament that if someone believes in you and supports you then we can come back from anything. In 2008 Terry started out as a volunteer with the BACCUS program as a CJP worker supporting Indigenous men, women and children who came into contact with police.  No matter what time of the day or night it was, Terry was always there making sure our mob were safe and taken care of.  Terry has since been employed full-time with MDAS as a Drug and Alcohol worker.  He completed his Diploma in AOD last year and is now a qualified Drug and Alcohol Counsellor. Terry was also involved in the National Empowerment Program, an initiative around suicide in local communities throughout Australia.  His passion for this came due to his brother Michael who committed suicide in 2004. Terry went on to become a Team Leader at the Wiimpatja Healing Centre at Lake Victoria and played a major role in the success of men completing the program. Without strong Warriors like Terry stepping up to the plate and giving back to the community, we would still have considerable struggle in empowering our men, women and children to overcome their own experiences around the impacts of trauma.
Life Time Achievement & Honor Roll –
(Sponsor Mallee District Aboriginal Services) 

Winner:  Lauris McCormack (b 1969 – d 2015)

Lauris began work as a trainee at the Mildura Aboriginal Cooperative in health services. It was work she loved and was a natural for and she spent 18 years there, including in the senior role of Health Practice Manager.  Lauris was always advocating for her people within her community and took on a leadership role and always aimed to Inspire her community.  Approaching health issues by empowering Aboriginal people and communities was Lauris’s aim, including giving them the tools so they can progressively take control of their future.  She could see the best in her clients and believed of the good in everyone, strong in culture, gentle soul with a big heart for helping her Aboriginal community at the grass roots level. 
Youth Award
(Sponsor Yuranga Mildura Local Aboriginal Network)

Winner:  Tylah Kelly-Carr

Tylah is a proud Wemba Wemba woman very involved with her culture. Tylah is a keen sportswoman having played, or plays Touch Football, Rugby League, Australian Women’s AFL Football and Netball. Whilst at secondary school she contributed a lot of support and effort to Chaffey Secondary College and Mildura Senior College Koorie Girls’ Academies (KGA) as a member of the academies.  She loves her role at the school and being an Aboriginal person and supporting her people at Ranfurly Primary school. In this role she plays a part in the ‘Girls On Country Program”, a program designed to connect the Koorie girl students back to their culture.
Sports Person Award –
(Sponsor Mallee Sports Assembly) 

Winner:  Kobe Brown

As well as being an outstanding footballer at Mildura Football Club, Kobe makes a significant contribution to the club and sets a great example to his peers through his willingness to help out in non-football areas. The strength of any community sporting organisation is established by the helpers and volunteers who make themselves available. Kobe is always eager to do his bit in the canteen, running water for the junior grades or helping out the senior team when he is unable to play due to his representative commitments. Kobe recognises that, in part, his achievements are made possible through his association with a strong and positive local sporting club and we feel that this will stand him in good stead as his sporting career progresses.
Volunteer Award –
(Sponsor – Commonwealth Bank)   

Winner:  Coomealla Lakers Basketball Club (Russell & Leanne Taylor)

The Coomealla Basketball Group is made up of many volunteers that work tirelessly on funding, coaching, scoring, transporting to and from games, supervising and supporting teams through the wins and losses. The Coomealla Basketball Club prides its self on encouragement, fun, sportsmanship, team building, self-esteem, wellbeing and healthily choices on and off the court. Also, taught to have respect for yourself, your team mates and the teams that you are playing against. This year more of the younger generation are stepping up and assisting with coaching and scoring of teams throughout all age groups.

Partnership / Organisation Award –
(Sponsor – Mildura Rural City Council)   

Winner:  Sunraysia Football and Netball League

Sunraysia Football and Netball League initially committed to an official three-year deal with MDAS to host an Indigenous Round, and is still continuing to make this an ongoing event in their yearly fixture. This has made a significant impact on the sporting community in the way which all Indigenous senior footballers and netballers can be a part of a day.  They have the opportunity to not only show case there sporting ability but more importantly to join in a day which shares and celebrates the richness of our Indigenous culture.  It is also a significant event as all community take part in the day and feel proud of what the league are achieving with the right cultural guidance.  It’s an opportunity for community to be passionate and proud about their identity and heritage on such a significant day. This is also a great opportunity to break down negative barriers that Indigenous people face on a day to day basis.
Trainee / Apprentice
(Sponsor -Victorian Aboriginal Employee Association) 

Winner: Kadiesha Yates

Kadiesha completed her VCE a few years ago after almost giving up a few times but with constant encouragement from family and teachers and support staff. An opportunity came up for her in the dental industry as a trainee dental assistant with Sunraysia Community Health and she took it with open arms. Now she has completed it and is employed as a full time Dental Assistant.  Kadiesha’s future goal is to do further training to take the next step to become a Dental Nurse. By Kadiesha’s persistence and willingness to complete her schooling and traineeship, this has given her confidence within herself and the belief that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

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MALLEE DISTRICT ABORIGINAL SERVICES  “Our Vision: "Self-determined, healthy, robust and culturally strong Aboriginal communities across the Mallee region."

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