After a week of celebrations, the Eurobodalla NAIDOC Awards Ball at The Coachouse Marina Resort in Batemans Bay saw generations come together to recognise each other’s contribution and achievements.
Guests were treated to a performance of “Hitchhiker” by comedian Dane Simpson who also hosted the event and kept everyone laughing.
Eurobodalla Shire Councillor Pat McGinlay was one of the first to present an award – ‘Youth of the Year’ to Chelsea Laurie.
“Chelsea is a self-driven and motivated young woman who is a role model among her peers,” Cr McGinlay said.
The award took Chelsea by surprise, who went on to thank family and friends for their support.
Chairperson of the Eurobodalla Shire Council Aboriginal advisory committee, Trish Ellis, was praised for her extensive knowledge of culture and language. Trish made the most of her time with the mic by acknowledging the current state of Aboriginal affairs – “It’s like this battle started today but it’s been going on for years.”
Trish spoke humbly about the tall order of such a title – ‘Elder of the Year’. “I don’t consider myself as an elder but the people have spoken and I’m happy to accept it,” she said.
Walbunga man, Jordan Nye has been overwhelmed by NAIDOC week. He said he is proud to be awarded ‘Employee of the Year’ by Eurobodalla Shire Council. Jordan has been in the role of Community Development Officer for 12 months and originally started his career studying a certificate III in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care.
Jordan, who is proud and community-focused said he owes his success to his people, “I worked really hard to get where I am and maintained a really good connection to my community.”
Jamara Nye is a contemporary indigenous artist who usually keeps a low profile while she continually works on her craft. She was beyond surprised when her name was called out for ‘Artist of the Year’.
“It was really surprising. I had no idea, I was really scared to go up on stage, I’m not good with crowds,” Jamara said.
Walbunga woman, Lavina White has worked closely with Aboriginal teens at Batemans Bay High School for 25 years. Her passion and dedication to her job and community was recognised not only by the judges but also the crowd. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Lavina accepted awards for ‘Excellence’ and the ‘Batemans Bay Aboriginal Lands Council Award’.
“I’m just so happy to be at the high school, after 25 years all the kids still come up to me, it makes me so proud,” Lavina said.
Di Ryle who worked tirelessly to organise the NAIDOC Ball said the night was a great success.
“This year has been the first time we’ve kept the winners a secret until the night, it’s been just so nice to see the reactions on their faces,” Di said.
The ball was a celebration through the generations and also an insight into a shift in our society.
Fortunately for younger Aboriginal generations, there is a sense of attitudes that are changing and opportunity that grows – albeit slowly and with struggle at times. For elders in the room, the disabling trauma of their youth still flashes brightly in their mind’s eye.
I am left wondering, how and will it ever be possible to give back what was and still is taken away?