The contribution made by Indigenous Australians to the conservation of the Australian environment will be recognised in NAIDOC Week celebrations later this year.
A new award category, the Caring for Country Award, has been included by the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC).
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said the new award would highlight the dedication and hard work of many Indigenous Australians in the preservation of Australia’s unique plant and animal life.
“The award also reflects this year’s NAIDOC theme – Unsung Heroes – Closing the Gap by Leading Their Way,” Ms Macklin said.
“In communities across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are showing the strong leadership that’s essential for real and lasting change.
“Not only are they making a difference in their communities, they are invaluable role models for new generations.”
The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, said the new award was an acknowledgement of the important contribution Indigenous Australians make caring for country today and into the future.
“Right around Australia Indigenous people are tackling some of the nation’s biggest environmental challenges, from feral animals to weeds and the effects of climate change.
“This award will help recognise and celebrate some of that excellent work and the important contribution is makes to the health of our natural landscapes,” Mr Garrett said.
National NAIDOC Committee co-chairs Anne Martin and Ben Mitchell said this year’s theme rewards the people who contribute to the benefit of the wider community everyday, often without any formal recognition.
NAIDOC Week, which begins on 4 July, showcases Indigenous people’s achievements and their contributions to the nation.
Nominations for the 2010 National NAIDOC Poster Competition and Awards are now open and Indigenous Australians are encouraged to nominate fellow community members.
There are 10 award categories, including the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The annual Poster Competition this year includes a $5,000 prize for the winning design which will be displayed across Australia in workplaces, schools and community organisations.
The competition ends on 31 March and nominations for the 2010 Awards close on the 30 April 2010.
Winners of the National NAIDOC Awards will be announced at the Awards ceremony in Melbourne on Friday 9 July.
Jenny Macklin MP
Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Peter Garrett MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts