Indigenous Governance Awards 2018 winners announced

Reconciliation Australia, in partnership with the BHP Foundation and the Australian Institute of Indigenous Governance, tonight revealed the winners of the Indigenous Governance Awards 2018, after a country-wide search for Australia’s best-performing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and projects.

Following a rigorous judging process, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (Windsor, QLD) and Nyamba Buru Yawuru (Broome, WA) were named joint winners of the Category A award for incorporated organisations.

The Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (Alice Springs, NT) is the winner of the Category B award for non-incorporated organisations, and the Alekarenge Community Development Working Group (Ali Curung, NT) are highly commended in this category.

More than 200 guests – including politicians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, corporate partners and community members – attended the presentation event at the Palladium at Crown Melbourne.

Among the guests were representatives from the nine finalist organisations, who travelled from as far west as Perth, as far east as Stradbroke Island, and as remote as Ali Curung
(350 kilometres north of Alice Springs).

Other finalists hail from Broome, Alice Springs, Karratha and Yuendumu.

Indigenous Governance Awards Chair, Professor Mick Dodson, and Australian Institute of Indigenous Governance Institute CEO, Michelle Deshong, who is a member of the Awards judging panel, agreed the calibre of this year’s finalists was exceptionally high.

Commenting on Category A co-winner, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, Professor Mick Dodson said “the strength of their leadership and vision is profound”.

“Their groundbreaking approach to the provision of health care in South East Queensland has reaped impressive results, including a significant reduction in the life expectancy gap in the region,” he said.

Ms Deshong said the other co-winner of the Category A award, Nyamba Buru Yawuru, was managing the Yawuru community’s assets “so that Yawuru people are able to fulfil their cultural and customary obligations”.

“They embed the philosophy of ‘Mabu Liyan’ in everything they do, enabling them to build a resilient community,” she said.

The winner of the Category B award, the Warlpiri Education and Training Trust, is “wisely investing the community’s gold mining royalties to grow funds for the delivery of bilingual and bicultural education to four Yapa communities in the Tanami Desert,” Ms Deshong said.

Professor Dodson said he was “truly amazed” at the work of the finalist organisations when the judging panel conducted site visits in September and October.

“In the 14 years I’ve been involved with the Awards, I’ve seen the quality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance practiced by the applicants rise and rise. This year, again, I can say that the finalists are the best we’ve ever had.”

Professor Dodson said the finalists’ work was evidence of the strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and projects throughout urban, rural and remote Australia.

“Their success shows us that traditional governance models, which have been developed and refined over tens of thousands of years, can inform effective responses to contemporary challenges,” he said.

Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said the Awards helped highlight the crucial role of self-determination in a just, equitable and reconciled nation.

“The work of these outstanding organisations is evidence of all that is possible when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have control of their lives and are empowered to determine their future,” she said.

In total, $70,000 in prize money will be distributed through the Awards. The winner/s in each category will receive $20,000, and the highly commended organisation will receive $10,000.

Indigenous Governance Awards 2018 finalists

Category A – Incorporated organisations

  • Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Ltd (Windsor, QLD)
  • Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (Dunwich, QLD)
  • Nyamba Buru Yawuru Ltd (Broome, WA)
  • Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (Perth, WA)
  • Marr Mooditj Training Aboriginal Corporation (Perth, WA)
  • Kuruma Marthudunera Aboriginal Corporation (Karratha, WA)

Category B – Non-incorporated organisations

  • The Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (Alice Springs, NT)
  • Alekarenge Community Development Working Group (Ali Curung, NT)
  • Apmer Akely-Akely SCfC Utopia Project (Alparra, NT)

About the Indigenous Governance Awards

The IGAs were established by Reconciliation Australia in partnership with BHP in 2005. In 2018, the Awards are co-hosted with the BHP Foundation and the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute.

The Awards identify, celebrate and promote effective Indigenous governance, which is about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making and implementing decisions about their communities, lives and futures.

The national awards highlight success in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia—strong leadership, good management, effective partnerships and brave, creative thinking.

There are two award categories:

  • Category A: Outstanding examples of Indigenous governance in Indigenous incorporated organisations
  • Category B: Outstanding examples of Indigenous governance in non-incorporated initiatives or projects.

Access information about each of the finalists here, and find high-res images and vision of each of the finalists here.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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