Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Indigenous Australians recognised at NAIDOC Awards

Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM was tonight recognised for his lifelong advocacy for the rights of Indigenous Australians at the 2013 National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Awards.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin presented the Lifetime Achievement Award at the awards ceremony in Perth tonight.

Mr Yunupingu has spent much of his life seeking greater recognition of the traditional rights of the Yolngu people of North East Arnhem Land, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.

His tireless advocacy for land rights in the Gove region led to the historic agreement between the traditional owners and mining company Rio Tinto Alcan in 2011.

This agreement ended years of historical grievances and paved the way for long term economic and social benefits for communities in the region.

Mr Yunupingu’s Lifetime Achievement Award comes as Australians commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Yirrkala bark petitions, where the Yolngu people sought recognition of their rights to their traditional lands.

As a young boy, Mr Yunupingu watched his father help prepare these bark petitions – a seminal moment in the struggle for Indigenous land rights.

Mr Yunupingu is an Australian of the Year, a Member of the Order of Australia and one of our National Living Treasures.

A leader of the Gumatj Clan since 1979, Mr Yunupingu’s outstanding contribution to his people continues to this day.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was accepted on behalf of Mr Yunupingu by his son Gapirri.

Mr Yunupingu joined 10 other inspirational Indigenous Australians recognised tonight, including Darryl Kickett who received the 2013 NAIDOC Person of the Year Award.

Mr Kickett has made significant contributions to community development, land rights, education and health policy for Indigenous people. His award comes with a $20,000 bursary so he can continue this important work.

The NAIDOC Awards end a terrific week of celebrations that focused on the theme: We Value the Vision: Yirrkala Bark Petitions 1963.

I congratulate the winners of the 2013 National NAIDOC Awards, who all highlight the outstanding contribution that Indigenous Australians make to their communities and the nation.

The 2013 National NAIDOC Award recipients are:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM, Northern Territory
  • Person of the Year – Darryl Kickett, Western Australia
  • Female Elder of the Year – Rose Richards, Queensland
  • Male Elder of the Year – John Hayden, Western Australia
  • Caring for Country – Jimmy Edgar, Western Australia
  • Youth of the Year – Kate Malpass, Western Australia
  • Artist of the Year – Tony Briggs, New South Wales
  • Scholar of the Year – Dr Mark David McMillan, Victoria
  • Apprentice of the Year – Danny Bromot, Northern Territory
  • Sportsperson of the Year – Jonathan Thurston, Queensland