2 – 9 July 2023
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Prominent Aboriginal leaders top 2018 National NAIDOC Awards list

The outstanding achievements and enormous contributions of two of this nation’s most prominent Indigenous women were among those recognised at the 2018 National NAIDOC Awards held in Sydney this evening.
2018 NAIDOC Award Winners

The outstanding achievements and enormous contributions of two of this nation’s most prominent Indigenous women were among those recognised at the 2018 National NAIDOC Awards held in Sydney this evening.

Dr June Oscar AO, a Bunuba woman from Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley, was named the highly coveted 2018 NAIDOC Person of the Year, in recognition of her work championing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially women and children, and her tireless work to preserve ancient languages. 

The 2018 NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Patricia Anderson AO, distinguished Alyawarre woman and passionate social justice advocate who has devoted her life to improving the health, welfare and education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Awards, held at the Sydney International Convention Centre in front of 1400 guests, were among ten handed out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievers who have excelled in their fields making outstanding contributions to their communities and the nation.

“When we talk about trailblazers – it is these women that we are talking about – they are trailblazers and so much more,” said Dr Anne Martin, National NAIDOC Committee Co-Chair.

“Their continual strength and passion advances Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all Australians. They have left indelible footprints for our next generations to follow.

“The 2018 NAIDOC theme – Because of her, we can!, - has touched the heart of the nation. To finally celebrate and recognise our women who have given selflessly across the years to ensure a better future for all.”

“This week has been long overdue in acknowledging and celebrating the role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play and continue to play in our communities and this nation,” said Mr Benjamin Mitchell, fellow Co-Chair. 

This year’s awards also recognised outstanding achievers across music, sport, health and academia, including:
Folau Talbot, a qualified dental technician from Boggabilla, NSW, who was named 2018 Apprentice of the Year. Folau travels through regional NSW in a mobile denture clinic, providing dental services for people living in rural and remote Indigenous communities.

Yorta Yorta man, Adam Briggs or ‘Briggs’ was awarded the 2018 Artist of the Year for his pioneering work in the Australian hip hop scene and advocacy to Indigenous peoples as a writer, presenter, and actor.

Russell Charles Taylor AM, a Kamilaroi man from NSW named as 2018 Male Elder of the Year for his significant service to the community as a cultural leader and public-sector executive in the field of Indigenous affairs.

Aunty Lynette Nixon, a Gunggari woman from South Western Queensland, was recognised as the 2018 Female Elder of the Year for her exceptional work and advocacy over five decades in lobbying for the rights and betterment of the lives of the Gunggari people. 

Professor Michelle Trudgett, from the Wiradjuri Nation in NSW was awarded the 2018 Scholar of the Year for her work in Indigenous participation in higher education, with a specific focus on the postgraduate sector and developing strategies to assist tertiary students to receive culturally appropriate support throughout their academic journeys. She is the founding Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges at the University of Technology in Sydney.

Jack Peris, son of former Senator and Olympian Nova Peris, was named 2018 Sportsperson of the Year. Jack, a descendant of the Iwatja people of Western Arnhem Land, and the Yawuru and Gidja people of the West and East Kimberley, is already an accomplished athlete, most recently becoming the National under-16 Australian 400m champion in athletics.

Tamina Pitt, a Wuthathi and Meriam woman, who is currently studying a Bachelor of Computer Engineering at the University of NSW, was named as the 2018 Youth of the Year. Having interned as a software engineer at Google, she is using her role as the Director of Indigitek, to galvanise a stronger community of practice amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tech engineers and entrepreneurs. 

The Mungalla Aboriginal Business Corporation in North Queensland was named the 2018 Caring for Country Award winners for their community work which incorporates cultural and eco-tourism, and provides education and training for the community. Their work passes on traditional practices and builds a legacy for future generations of the Nywaigi community.

The National NAIDOC Awards is the most significant and anticipated event on the National Indigenous calendar and is the longest running and only truly national Indigenous Awards of its kind.

Since the mid-1980s, some 270 Indigenous Australians have been recognised with National NAIDOC Awards.

The National NAIDOC Committee acknowledge the valued sponsorship and support from the Australian Government, the Commonwealth Bank, NSW Government, the City of Sydney, KARI Foundation, PWC, PWC Indigenous Consulting, Equity Trustees, Telstra, Inside Policy, My Pathway, Torres Strait Regional Authority, LUSH and Fred Hollows Foundation.

In addition, the Awards would not be possible without official airline partner Qantas, Principal Media Partner NITV, media partner Koori Mail Newspaper and the Official Accommodation Partner AccorHotels.

See the Award Winners profiles.

View the images from the 2018 Awards evening.