A proud Yinggarda, Nyul-Nyul and Minang woman, Tiarna Wynne has been crowned Perth’s own Miss NAIDOC 2021.
The 22-year-old mother, of Beeliar, pictured, was selected from nine finalists in the Miss NAIDOC Perth Aboriginal empowerment and leadership program.
The six-week program builds awareness of Aboriginal issues and strengthens cultural connections while teaching participants confidence and public-speaking skills.
This gave Ms Wynne the ability to positively represent the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of Perth in her duties as Miss NAIDOC Perth.
Ms Wynne said the connections she made with the other young women in the program would be with her for the rest of her life.
“I feel like with the energy, the positivity and their drive, it actually encouraged me as well to speak up in workshops, and elsewhere because I was just surrounded by a group of positive ladies,” she said.
She hopes to use her title to tackle drug and alcohol abuse, and teach her 11-month-old son, Zayde, how to work hard and be proud of his people.
Ms Wynne’s drive to build up her people starts at home; she said her achievements through Miss NAIDOC were allowing her to be a role model, even for her own family.
“When they called my name for Miss NAIDOC, my family were just over the moon. Because within our family, we don’t have someone that actually goes out and does (big things), I’m kind of one of the first,” she said.
“My nanny was there and she said, ‘Bub, I look up to you, and you’re my granddaughter. You’ve actually gone out of your way to participate in this, you go out of your way to ensure you work hard.’
“My mob was really happy because it also reflects all our family. Not just our close family, but even our extended family. They’re also proud because it also reflects on our land, our mob, our community.”
Growing up in Carnarvon, Ms Wynne endured racism during her childhood. As the only Aboriginal student in a Catholic school, she was targeted for being different.
She said it was a difficult time, but she came out the other side stronger and prouder of her people.
“I was only younger when it first started, but as I got into Year 8 or Year 9, that’s when I started to stand strong and just let it pass,” Ms Wynne said.
“I know how resilient my family (are). We are in a community that experienced racism, going back to our Ancestors and even our Elders, (I know) how resilient we are and how strong we are as a nation and as a race.
“I needed to keep that mentality alive; we’re strong and I’m going to stand strong.”
Ms Wynne has been passed the torch by Katelan Stack, Miss NAIDOC Perth 2020.
Ms Stack said the program gave her the confidence to do what others thought she could not.
“I’m a boxer, so it’s given me the confidence to go in and step into the ring for the first time and go in with my head held high, not worrying about what anybody else thinks. Because at the end of the day, it’s my life, I do what I want, I don’t worry about what anybody else says,” she said.
“This program is definitely something special.”
Holding the title Miss NAIDOC helped Ms Stack discover a love for public speaking.
“I’ve spoken, I think, at about 20 schools in total; high schools and primary schools, and I’ve been a keynote speaker at Red Cross,” she said.
“I’m a firm believer in self-belief and positive mindset, and I love sharing my journey and how I got to where I am today with other people and inspiring other people.
“The fact that I can go and speak at schools, be a keynote speaker, and share my journey with others and inspire others to want to do better? That just makes my heart so full.”
Ms Stack’s advice for her successor is to take the world by storm with an open heart.
“Have the biggest open mind and heart, take this experience to share stories, and take this experience chest on,” she said.
“Don’t be shame, don’t be shy, just soak up every opportunity, you know this is going to make you grow.
“And to all the other girls, the leadership journey does not end here, it’s just the beginning.”
Daisy Humphries took home the title of Miss NAIDOC Runner Up at the Crowning Gala, with Kae Cox dubbed Miss Photogenic and Kiahara Jacobs-Hampton winning Miss Kwobodok.
By Sarah Smit