The recipients of the National NAIDOC Awards for 2021 have been announced, honouring the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the community and national level.

National NAIDOC Committee Co-Chair, Shannan Dodson said this year’s winners serve as role models for all Australians.

“The NAIDOC Awards allow us to tell the stories of those who achieve great things and who have put their mark in the 65,000+ year history of Australia,” she said.

“The ten recipients represent generations of proud First Nations peoples showing their community what can be achieved if you put your mind to something.

“Through their art, sporting prowess, commitment to education or protecting our land, culture and heritage, they have all made a wonderful contribution to our communities and our nation.”

The ten 2021 National NAIDOC Awards recipients are – Pat O’Shane AM, Keri Tamwoy, Christobel Swan, Ernest Hoolihan, Gadrian Hoosan on behalf of the Borroloola Community, Samara Fernandez-Brown, Bobbi Lockyer, Sasha Purcell, Jarron Andy and Clarence ‘CJ’ McCarthy-Grogan.

Pat O’Shane AM – Lifetime Achievement Award 2021. 

O’Shane is a proud Kuku Yalanji woman from Mossman, one hour north of Cairns. She was the first female Aboriginal teacher in Queensland, the first Aboriginal Magistrate in Australia, and the first woman and Aboriginal person to be the head of a Government Department.

Pat O’Shane AM. Photo supplied NAIDOC Facebook.

Keri Tamwoy – Person of the Year 2021. 

Tamwoy is of the Putch people, Wik Mungkan, in the community of Aurukun located in the western Cape York Peninsula. She is also the co‐founder of the Wik Women’s Group which champions for education and safety of women and children.

She also has a leading role in a recent Cape York campaign to co‐design strategies to combat youth sexual violence.

Keri Tamwoy. Photo supplied NAIDOC Facebook.

Aunty Christobel Swan – Female Elder of the Year 2021. 

Aunty Christobel Swan is a proud Pertame, Southern Arrernte woman from Central Australia. She is leading the way in restoring her culture through her extensive work, including co‐authoring The Learner’s Wordlist of Pertame, the first and only publication of Southern Arrernte, as well as her love for teaching children through school vocational programs.

Aunty Christobel. Photo supplied NAIDOC Facebook.

Uncle Ernest Hoolihan – Male Elder of the Year 2021.

Uncle Ernest Hoolihan was born in the far-north Queensland town of Ingham, later moving to Townsville with his family. He became the first Indigenous person to attain a scholarship with the Townsville Grammar School and in 1973, alongside his late wife, established Yumba-Meta Limited, a service that provides long term affordable accommodation to disadvantage people.

Uncle Ernest. Photo supplied NAIDOC Facebook.

Gadrian Hoosan on behalf of the Borroloola Community – Caring for Country 2021. 

The town of Borroloola is home to the Yanyuwa, Gurdanji Garawa and Mara people.

For the past 8 years, Traditional Owners and the Borroloola community have been trying to stop new gas projects they say encroach on their Country and threaten the environment and Culture.

Community representative Gadrian Hoosan, is helping his community to lead the fight in restoring and preserving the unique and precious land and waterways for future generations to come.

Borroloola community. Photo supplied NAIDOC Facebook.

Samara Fernandez-Brown – Youth of the Year 2021. 

Samara Fernandez‐Brown is a proud Warlpiri woman from Yuendumu, located three hours north-west of Alice Springs. An advocate for her people and social justice activist following the shooting and death of her cousin, Kumanjayi Walker in 2019.

She has coordinated the “Justice For Walker” campaign, liaising between Warlpiri Elders and the police, judicial system and the media, organising rallies, fundraising to cover the case’s legal fees all while remaining a peaceful, thoughtful and impassioned spokesperson for her family, community and the broader deaths in custody movement.

Samara Fernandez‐Brown. Photo supplied NAIDOC Facebook.

Bobbi Lockyer – Artist of the Year 2021. 

Bobbi Lockyer is a Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Nyulnyul and Yawuru woman born and based on Kariyarra Country in Port Hedland in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

She is an official creator for Nikon Australia and her work has been published all over the world including in Vogue Magazine and New York Fashion Week.

Bobbi Lockyer. Photo supplied NAIDOC Facebook.

Sasha Purcell – Scholar of the Year 2021. 

Sasha Purcell is from the “Whaleboat” family from Mer Island in the Torres Strait.
She holds degrees in International Relations and Foreign Affairs as well as Law, and is
currently completing a masters of Law in International Legal studies at New York University.
In 2019, Sasha was invited to speak at the United Nations in Geneva about Torres Strait Islander peoples and the impact of climate change on the islands.

Sasha Purcell. Photo supplied NAIDOC Facebook.

Jarron Andy – Apprentice of the Year 2021. 

Jarron Andy is a Waanyi, Djiru, Kuku Yalanji and Yindinji man who grew up in Innisfail, one hour south of Cairns in far-north Queensland.

He undertook a ten-week apprentice course with Channel 75 Open shop becoming Australia’s first ever Indigenous Home Shopping TV Presenter.

Jarron Andy. Photo supplied NAIDOC Facebook.

Clarence ‘CJ’ McCarthy-Grogan – Sportsperson of the Year 2021. 

CJ McCarthy-Grogan is a Yanyuwa, Garrawa, Kuku-Yalanji man from Darwin. His passion for wheelchair basketball has made him legendary.

He made his official Australian debut at the Tokyo Invitational Tournament in September 2019. Since then he is only the second Aboriginal person to represent Australia in the history of wheelchair basketball.

CJ McCarthy-Grogan. Photo supplied NAIDOC Facebook.

By Teisha Cloos