The National NAIDOC Committee has kicked off plans for NAIDOC Week 2018 with the appointment of five members to its ranks.
The four new appointments - and one reappointment - follow a national selection process which saw Kenny Bedford, Lynette Riley, Ngarra Murray and Shannan Dodson appointed to Committee and Anita-Lee Summers reappointed for a second term.
NAIDOC Co-Chairs Dr Anne Martin and Benjamin Mitchell welcomed the new members to the National Committee.
"We are looking forward to working together to take NAIDOC to new heights."
"They bring a wealth of experience, passion and expertise to the Committee." Dr Martin said.
In welcoming the new members, Mr Mitchell paid tribute to outgoing members; Ann Weldon, Bilawara Lee, Dr Stephen Hagan, and Dr Jessa Rogers.
"They each have served with great passion, commitment and dedication on the National Committee and have contributed significantly to the continual success of NAIDOC. Words cannot adequately express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for their service rendered in building and preserving the great legacy of NAIDOC. We have all been blessed because of their association with us. I also make special mention of Aunty Bilawara Lee who has served for over a decade on the National Committee and has been such just a joy to work with." Mr Mitchell said.
Among the appointments is Kenny Bedford, a respected community leader from Erub (Darnley Island) in the Torres Strait who has a long history of involvement with NAIDOC at a national level.
Mr Bedford served 9 years on the Board of the Torres Strait Regional Authority where he held the Executive Portfolio for Fisheries for two consecutive terms. He is the President of the Erub Fisheries Management Association and a member of the Erubam Le Traditional Land and Sea Owners (TSI) Corporation.
"I was a member of a Section 13, NAIDOC Advisory Committee to ATSIC...part of a dedicated group that was tasked with making recommendations to raise the national profile in our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities as well as more broadly, of the significance and importance of NAIDOC and NAIDOC celebrations," Mr Bedford said.
"We have come a long way since then." he added.
Lynette Riley is a Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi woman from Dubbo and Moree and is currently employed as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney within the Sydney School of Education and Social Work.
With more than 30 years working experience as a teacher and in Aboriginal education and administration within primary schools, high schools, TAFE, state office and universities – Lynette brings a wealth of expertise and capabilities in Aboriginal education, community development and management.
She has worked at and continues to work at management level since 1982 as a leader in Aboriginal education and in positions such as: Head Teacher (Tranby College 1984); Head of the Ooralla Centre, UNE (1986-1992); Manager Dubbo TAFE College (1998-2000); State Manager Aboriginal Education, NSW DET (2000-2006); Senior Lecturer and Academic Leader, Koori Centre, University of Sydney (2006-2015).
"I have been committed to the NAIDOC process since a young person and feel that my purpose in education has been to help create informed and educated connections between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal persons, so as to create a more just society for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia," Dr Riley says.
Ngarra Murray is a Wamba Wamba (Gourmjanyuk) Yorta Yorta (Wallithica) woman from North-West Victoria based in Melbourne. She has strong family links to her traditional country at Muymer Lake Boga and Cummeragunja along the Murray River.
She has passionately worked within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community for the past two decades including employment at the University of Melbourne, Bunjilaka at Museum Victoria, Victoria University of Technology, North Yarra Community Health and Australia Post.
Ms Murray is currently working as the National Programs Lead of Oxfam Australia‘s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Program.
"NAIDOC holds such special significance to me. It continues the vision of our forefathers and unifies our people, acknowledges our history and celebrates our survival,"
"NAIDOC is a key part of our identity and history and an intergenerational responsibility and it’s imperative that we pass the importance of NAIDOC to our younger generation to keep them connected to their people and communities, traditions and practices." she concluded.
Shanna Dodson is a Yawuru (Broome area) woman living in Sydney. Ms Dodson has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for over 12 years as a communications and digital specialist.
She previously held Communications roles at Reconciliation Australia, AIATSIS, and is currently a board member of ANTaR, and Community Ambassador for R U OK?
"I see exciting potential to use digital media to expand the reach of the NAIDOC week messages and theme to a broader audience, specifically young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians."
"I want to advocate Twitter to have the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag emojis available for specific hashtags during NAIDOC Week as well as a specific emoji for the NAIDOC Awards Ceremony hashtag," she added.
Gold Coast leader Anita-Lee Summers was re-appointed to the Committee to serve a second term.
Ms Summers, whose traditional connections are to the Yugarabul Peoples of South-East Queensland and Bidjara Peoples of Western Queensland has worked in the Indigenous affairs arena for over 35 years at a grassroots and Commonwealth level.
"For me, NAIDOC can drive real understanding of the struggles but also the resilience and survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples." Ms Summers concluded.
The National NAIDOC Committee makes key decisions on National NAIDOC activities each year including the focus city, theme, National NAIDOC Poster Competition winner and National NAIDOC award recipients, as well as supporting the promotion and success of NAIDOC Week nationally.
NAIDOC Week will be held across the nation from 8-15 July 2018 with Sydney being the host city for National celebrations.