Ten local Kamilaroi people have been acknowledged at the recent NAIDOC Week awards at the Gunnedah Services and Bowling Club.
The awards were hosted by Winanga-li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre for the second year, with Gunida Gunyah employee Gary Briggs announcing the awards.
Chloe Dorrington and Chance Moore-Duff were named the primary school academic achievers of the year. The high school aged academic achievers of the year were Aimee Crookall and Brady Herbert. Community contribution awards were received by Sue Sutherland and Dick Talbott, while Gina Field and Robert Briggs were awarded for professional achievement. Sportsperson of the year awards went to cricketer Zoe Fleming and boxer Wade Ryan.
Award winner Sue Sutherland, known as “Aunty Sue”, said she was shocked to be nominated for community contribution and said she got her strength from friends, family and particularly her long-term partner Johnny Sutherland, who passed away two years ago.
“We took heaps of family and friends when they needed a hand and we never asked for anything in return. That was just us,” Ms Sutherland said.
Her influence also reached numerous students at the Gunnedah Public School where she held the position of Aboriginal Education Officer for almost 20 years.
Gunnedah man Robert Briggs was recognised for his work as an acting senior field officer with the National Parks and Wildlife Service in the Indigenous area Boomalla near Kelvin. He said he was “stoked” to win a professional achievement award.
“I was over the moon, proud, overwhelmed. I was on cloud nine. It was just the happiest feeling. It’s a great feeling that people are aware and recognise the contribution that you make to the community,” he said.
“Definitely put my confidence and self-esteem up and [gave] a lot of exposure to the Aboriginal area. Not many people knew [Boomalla] was out there and it’s starting to get up and get the ball rolling.”
Mr Briggs said he loved “getting out in country” and showing people what Boomalla had to offer.