10 May 2023

NAIDOC Award honour for proud Aurukun champion

| Matt Nicholls
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AURUKUN mayor Keri Tamwoy was last week honoured with the National NAIDOC Award for person of the year, paying tribute to her commitment to community.

In an emotional acceptance speech, recorded remotely due to the pandemic, Cr Tamwoy said the award was recognition for a lot of people in Aurukun.

“I’m a mother and a grandmother and I carry all the hope and determination in this world for my people and I give it 100 per cent,” she said.

“This award recognises all the people that are unseen and unheard, the ones that work tirelessly fighting injustices that impact on the lives of our people.

“This award honours all the young people who have died tragically by suicide and without cause long before their time but have been forgotten by society. They were unseen and unheard.

“This award cries out for all the Indigenous children who have been reported missing and no further attempts have been made to find them, forgotten and silenced parents are still seeking closure in the midst of their heartbreak.

“The unseen and the unheard.

“This award recognises the child that struggles to get to school every day because they have had a rough night at home. The ones that dare to dream and aspire to do great things when they are older.

“The unseen and the unheard.

“I want all little girls to know that they are precious and beautiful and should not be stereotyped because of gender or skin colour.

“I want little boys to understand that they are the protectors of women, that they are all little warriors; descendants of kings.

“I want to see the youth find their voice and be heard. You are important to us! You are the future. Make a noise, we want you to be seen and heard.

“This award recognises the disposed, the dismantled, the dispossessed and the fight to find a place of belonging.

“This award remembers my old people, past, present and current, the keepers of songs, stories, dance and culture, who – when they are painted up for ceremonial purposes – take my breath away because they are warriors and it makes me feel proud to be Wik, Wik Waya and Kugu.

“This award acknowledges my home of Aurukun, a place that has produced exceptional people, my people. The leaders, the activists, the Elders, the advocates, the mothers and fathers.

“The platform that has been laid for us is too great to ignore.”


THE first-time mayor also paid tribute to her late mother.

“I would like to dedicate this award to one of those incredible people, my mother Alison Woolla, a woman with a heart so huge that it embraced not only her people but all others,” Cr Tamwoy said.

“A woman born to lead. A woman who led by example, a woman who told her children that anything is possible, you can be who you want to be, don’t let others tell you that you cannot do it.

“A woman who told us education is the key. A woman who created a haven for us and others.

“While my mother is irreplaceable and her shoes are too big to fill, her legacy lives on.

“Thank you for teaching me that we must use our voice to speak for the forgotten, the voiceless, the unseen and the unheard.

“Thank you to my mother Alison for showing me what love and compassion look like and instilling in me the importance of respecting our Elders.

“Thank you for showing me how hard but important it is to fight, how lonely and agonisingly frustrating it is but also how very vital it is to keep on at it.

“Thank you mum for showing me how to see and hear what is most important in life.

“I humbly receive the NAIDOC Person of the Year Award on behalf of the unseen and the unheard.”

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