NAIDOC award winners recognised

A prominent elder who leads cultural heritage walking tours of Adelaide has won the Lord Mayor’s 2024 NAIDOC award, while the Premier’s NAIDOC award went to leaders in child protection and homeless prevention services.

Jul 09, 2024, updated Jul 09, 2024
Aunty Yvonne Aguis, Uncle Frank Wangutya Wanganeen and Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith. Photo: City of Adelaide

Aunty Yvonne Aguis, Uncle Frank Wangutya Wanganeen and Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith. Photo: City of Adelaide

Uncle Frank Wangutya Wanganeen was presented the Lord Mayor’s NAIDOC award at the annual SA NAIDOC Awards ceremony held at Town Hall yesterday.

The Kaurna-Narungga man was born at Wallaroo and raised on Point Pearce Mission on the Yorke Peninsula.

Uncle Frank describes himself as a cultural educator through his cultural heritage walking tours which explain the significance of sites along KarraWirra Parri/River Torrens and the city centre. He also talks to school and university students about reconciliation, Kaurna culture and heritage.

Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith, along with the City of Adelaide Reconciliation Committee co-chair Aunty Yvonne Agius, presented Uncle Frank with the award.

Lomax-Smith said it was an honour.

“Uncle Frank has been a trailblazer for our community who has worked tirelessly for more than 30 years,” she said.

In the past 30 years, Uncle Frank has served on reconciliation committees for the City of Adelaide and Campbelltown Councils and chaired the Salisbury Council Reconciliation Committee. He has also consulted with Holdfast Bay and Tea Tree Gully Councils on Kaurna projects relating to reconciliation and heritage.

In 2017, Uncle Frank was the recipient of the Premier’s NAIDOC Award for his contribution to the Aboriginal community.

Wayne Miller and Sandra (Sandy) Miller, the dual winners of the Premier’s NAIDOC Award 2024. Photo: Government of South Australia

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This year’s Premier’s NAIDOC Award dual winners are Sandra (Sandy) and Wayne Miller.

Sandy is a Wirangu Kokatha elder who has been a passionate activist for over 40 years and helped establish the Wakwakurna Kanyini peak body.

Wakwakurna Kanyini means “holding on to our children” and is an organisation to advocate for Aboriginal children in care to be best placed with kin and community.

It was announced in March 2023 and backed by a $3.2 million investment from the state government. In June, they began the search for an inaugural CEO.

Wayne is a Wirangu man and leader in the Far West community. He’s the CEO of Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation and is passionate about preventing homelessness and empowering Aboriginal communities to make decisions through choice, not chance.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher said both Sandy and Wayne have “worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life, services, and programs available to Aboriginal people living in South Australia”.

“Having known Sandy and Wayne for many years, I am pleased to see they have been recognised for their dedication to their fields,” he said.

Year 11 student Patrick Alexander won the 2024 Dr Alice Alitya Rigney Prize, which recognises a young Aboriginal person in years 10-12 dedicated to their education.

Alexander is a young Wiradjuri and Ngunnawal man with a particular interest in history, English and digital technology.

Adelaide is hosting National NAIDOC Week for the first time in nine years. The theme of this year is “Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud!”.

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