2016 National NAIDOC Award winners honoured in Darwin

The National NAIDOC Committee congratulated ten outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who were honoured at the 2016 National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony in Darwin on Friday 8 July.

Stephen Page, a descendant of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from South East Queensland, was honoured with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Stephen has been the Artistic Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre for the past 25 years with the goal of providing opportunities to the next generation of Indigenous storytellers. 

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu from Elcho Island in the Northern Territory won the Artist of the Year award. Gurrumul’s exceptional musical skills were largely self-taught, despite being born blind. His singing voice has drawn acclaim with his music topping Australian charts and being recognised with ARIA and Deadly Awards. His Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation supports remote Indigenous youth to become involved in arts and cultural programs, learning skills and pursuing healthy lifestyles to help overcome disadvantage.

The Person of the Year Award, sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank, went to Professor Chris Sarra, a Goreng Goreng man from Bundaberg for his extraordinary efforts of the past 20 years to improving Aboriginal educational outcomes throughout Australia. 

Professor MaryAnn Bin-Sallik, a proud Djaru Elder from the East Kimberly won the female elder of the year and Dr Robert Francis Isaacs a Billumum Noongar man, from Western Australia won the male elder of the year award.

The Committee extends its congratulations to all of the 2016 National NAIDOC Award winners.

“It is humbling to see the breadth of amazing work being done by so many talented and dedicated individuals across our land,” said Committee Co-Chair, Benjamin Mitchell.

Congratulations to:

  • Manymak Energy Efficiency Project (NT) – Caring for Country Award winner

  • Elijah Douglas (QLD) – Youth of the Year

  • Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (NT) – Artist of the Year

  • Layneisha Sgro (WA) – Scholar of the Year

  • Montana Ah-Won (WA) – Apprentice of the Year

  • Jade North (NSW) – Sportsperson of the Year

  • Professor MaryAnn Bin-Sallik (NT) – Female Elder of the Year

  • Dr Robert Francis Isaacs (WA) – Male Elder of the Year

  • Professor Chris Sarra (QLD) – Person of the Year

  • Stephen Page (QLD) – Lifetime Achievement Award winner

The Committee acknowledged the Australian Government for its ongoing support and the Commonwealth Bank for its continued generous sponsorship of the 2016 VIP area and the $20,000 Person of the Year bursary. In addition this year saw new sponsors coming on board to support the event including the Northern Territory Government, Batchelor Institute, Charles Darwin University, TFE Hotels, Flinders University and Telstra.

“We are humbled to have worked with so many amazing partners this year, whose support helped to make the 2016 national celebrations some of the biggest yet.” said Committee Co-Chair, Anne Martin.

The Awards were hosted at the Darwin Convention Centre and attended by over 1500 guests. Guests included the Larrakia people, the Darwin community, federal and state politicians and high profile Indigenous affairs identities.

The Committee welcomed first time presenter Hannah Hollis and welcome back Luke Caroll as hosts for the evening. The entertainment line-up included One Mob Different Country, Upai Purri, Shellie Morris, Leah Flanagan, Sean Choolburra, B2M and a special Yothu Yindi tribute by East Journey.

The Committee thanks all involved in making this year another successful National NAIDOC event.

“It is a great privilege for us to be able to stage the Awards each year in a different city around this beautiful country. I would like to convey a special thank you to the Top End NAIDOC Committee for its assistance with the Awards and the Larrakia people for welcoming us onto their land”, said Mr Mitchell.

Lastly, congratulations to Cairns which was announced last night as the National NAIDOC Host City for 2017.

Highlights of the night are available at www.nitv.org.au and a two hour telecast will be aired on National Indigenous Television on Saturday 16 July at 6.30 pm (AEST).