NAIDOC Week 2018 is officially underway in Whyalla, and the traditional opening/awards ceremony did not disappoint.
In total eight locals were recognised for their achievements, with youth worker Jeff Croft being named the Male Community Person of the Year. Child educator Peta Sutton was named the Female Community Person of the Year.
Yolanda Croft opened the event at the Middleback Arts Centre with the Welcome to Country. Mayor Lyn Breuer then led the ceremony, announcing all the winners.
The rest of the award winners are as follows:
- Country Arts SA (accepted by Ryan Sutherland), Outstanding Community Service of the Year
- Tahlia Hoban, Community Youth of the Year
- Joseph Jebdyah, Male Scholar of the Year
- Tayla Abinett-Cartwright, Female Scholar of the Year
- Shantae Barnes-Cowan, Female Sportsperson of the Year
- Elliot McNamara, Male Sportsperson of the Year
Mr Croft, who’s family is well-known in the community, said his award was ‘very special’ to him.
“I’m a little bit shocked...to be recognised in a small way like this is really good, it’s something I will cherish for a long time,” he said.
Not only does Mr Croft work with disadvantaged youths in the community through the Plaza Youth Centre, he also organises NAIDOC Week every year as the committee President.
Looking back 14 years, Mr Croft can remember a time when only two or three NAIDOC Week events were held in Whyalla.
“It’s certainly grown over the years, we try to have something on every day now. It’s something we pride ourselves on,” he said.
Shadow Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher, who attended the ceremony, emphasised the importance of NAIDOC Week to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“It’s a week where we can reflect on the significant achievements of Aboriginal people in this country,” he said.
“The fact that we have the oldest living culture in the world here in Australia is a remarkable thing.”
Mr Maher said the NAIDOC awards often recognised the ‘unsung heroes’ of the Aboroginal community.
“I really enjoy getting out to regional South Australia and meeting the award winners in different areas,” he said.