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Wangkajunga/Walmajarri Elder, leader and artist Ngarralja Tommy May. Picture by Damian Kelly

Desert artist wins $50,000 prize

WANGKAJUNGA/ Walmajarri Elder, leader and artist Ngarralja Tommy May has taken out the major Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA) with Wirrkanja. 

The etching on tin depicts patterns in the sand left from receding floodwaters near Kurtal, a jila (living spring waterhole) in the Great Sandy Desert (WA), where he lost his brother. 

Ngarralja was born at Yarrkurnja in the Great Sandy Desert. He dances and sings Kurtal – a ceremony relating to the main jila in his country – and the first time he saw paintings was in a cave. 

Now with an arts career that has taken him to several countries overseas and spanned three decades, Ngarralja tells these same stories, but with…

Latest News Stories

WellMob team: Dr Judy Singer, Talah Laurie, Sharnie Roberts and David Edwards.

Website focus on healthy mob

Wednesday, 12 August 2020 3:39 pm

EXTENSIVE community consultation with the Bundjalung nation of the Northern Rivers of NSW has led to the creation of a new health website which focuses on culturally safe, strengths-based wellbeing resources developed by and for mob. 

Available to all frontline community health and wellbeing, mental health, family support, education and youth services workers alike, the WellMob website has been overseen by the University Centre for Research Health (UCRH) in Lismore.

Led by Indigenous experts with extensive guidance and input by advisory and reference groups made up of Indigenous Elders and community members from Larrakia (Darwin), Kaurna (Adelaide) and Bundjalung (Lismore NSW) nations, the website brings together apps, podcasts, videos, helplines, social media, online programs, and other websites, all with a focus on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Widjabul Wiyabal woman Sharnie Roberts from the staff development and training team at WellMob said the website is a one-stop-shop where workers can feel confident to find and share valuable online wellbeing resources with their clients and customers.

“Community and workers on the front line came to us and expressed their need to have resources available that were created by mob, and for mob, all in the one place, and easy to locate…

UNSW Scientia PhD Candidate Kirsten Banks encourages everyone to take in the awesomeness of the universe with a bit of star-gazing. “Don’t worry about not having the right stargazing equipment,” she says. “Your eyes are the only thing you need to begin stargazing.”

Rising star lighting up the Milky Way

Wednesday, 12 August 2020 3:32 pm

KIRSTEN Banks is a Wiradjuri woman who grew up on Ku- ring-gai country in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Kirsten is a Scientia PhD Candidate in the School of Physics at UNSW Sydney and as a part of her PhD project she is mapping the Milky Way Galaxy using galactic archaeology. 

“My research is in astro physics – more specifically I’m kind of like Indiana Jones, but in space. My real interest is in galactic archeology and it’s a part of my PHD project that I just started this year. 

“Galactic archaeologists trace the history and formation of the Milky Way galaxy from detailed observations of the stars gas and other structures that can be observed from Earth,” Kirsten says. 

“When we are looking at galactic archeology…

Emma Griggs graduated from Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education and Training Centre with a Diploma of Applied Aboriginal Studies.

Tranby offers culturally safe study for students

Wednesday, 12 August 2020 3:25 pm

WIRADJURI woman Emma Griggs left high school in her early teens but that hasn’t stopped her successfully completing a Certificate in Project Management, Diploma in 

Counselling, Certificate in Mental Health, Certificate in Alcohol and other Drugs, and most recently, a Diploma of Applied Aboriginal Studies. 

And now Ms Griggs is fulfilling her dream of undertaking a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration at the University of Technology Sydney. 

“It wasn’t until I was in my mid thirties that I even considered taking on further education, and that all came down to my biggest fear that I thought I just wasn’t smart enough,” Ms Griggs said. 

“I enrolled in the diploma of Applied Aboriginal Studies at Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education and Training Centre because for so long I had only known the oral history passed down through my family and community, and I was eager to learn more,” she said. 

“I felt compelled to understand deeply the policies and politics that affect Aboriginal people, and I figured, if I’m ever to get into a conversation about these topics, and possibly have to help educate people, then I must educate myself about it first.” 

Established in the Gadigal (Sydney) suburb of Glebe in 1957, Tranby is Australia’s oldest not-for-profit independent Indigenous education provider, and has long been a place of strong community, social, and political action for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

“Educating myself and having an acute awareness of Australia’s Aboriginal history has given me the confidence to give another person my own educated opinion, rather than simply regurgitating the opinions of other people…

Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman Teela May Reid has taken out the WA Premier’s Book Award.

Teela wins writing award

Wednesday, 12 August 2020 3:15 pm

SYDNEY- based lawyer Teela May Reid has won $15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books after taking out the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards for her powerful work of junior fiction, Our Matriarchs Matter. 

The Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman was announced the winner at a ceremony at the State Library of Western Australia in Perth on Friday. 

The national award is for an unpublished work in the category of Indigenous Junior or Young Adult writing, and is named in honour of the late Daisy Utemorrah: an Elder of the Wunambal people, award- winning poet, author, community leader, educator and one of the founders of Magabala Books. 

Inspired by her nine- year-old niece Jakayla May Reid and by Daisy Utemorrah’s own story, Teela said she was honoured to win. 

“I felt an urge to submit my story having learned more about Daisy Utemorrah, but also because I have been strongly shaped by all the matriarchs in my life. 

“The story is something that comes from my soul and my spirit,” she said. 

Ms Reid was born and raised in Gilgandra western NSW. 

She is a co-founder of Blackfulla Bookclub on Instagram, a platform that honours First Nations Ancestors as the original storytellers, and is currently a criminal defence lawyer…

Baker Boy offered love to his fellow First Nations artists and thanked his family as he accepted the award for Artist of the Year. Picture: Freya Esders

Ruby Hunter honoured as Baker Boy cleans up

Wednesday, 12 August 2020 3:06 pm

BAKER Boy has been named Artist of the Year at the National Indigenous Music Awards for the second year running. 

The Yolngu rapper also took home awards for Song of the Year and Film Clip of the Year for his hit Meditjin. 

Other big winners on the night were Archie Roach who won Album Of The Year for Tell Me Why, Miiesha with New Talent of the Year, KDA Crew for Community Clip of the Year and Rrawun Maymur and Nick Wales who took the Indigenous Language Award for Nyapillilngu (Spirit Lady). 

Proud Ngarrindjeri singer/songwriter Ruby Hunter was posthumously inducted into the NIMAs Hall of Fame with a special musical tribute from Emma Donovan and Ruby’s husband of 35 years Archie Roach. 

Hunter wrote songs that spoke to the experiences of many First Nations people, particularly those of the Stolen Generations and young Indigenous women. In 1994, she was the first Aboriginal woman to release a solo album with a major label – Thoughts Within. 

She was also a founder of
the Black Arm Band, a children’s author, actor and humanitarian, creating connection and understanding through music and other projects, both independently and in partnership with Roach. 

In a Facebook post when the induction was announced leading up to the awards show, Roach said it was “about time”. 

“Well deserved Mum.” 

The awards, usually celebrated at a spectacular star-studded concert under the stars in Darwin were forced to go completely…

Taylah Gray is the new breed of activist. Picture by Bud Kelly, Straight Stick Photography

Taylah is the new breed of activist

Wednesday, 12 August 2020 3:00 pm

ANOTHER week, another Black death in custody and, low and behold, BLM Sydney organisers get arrested for social distancing. 2020 is fully cracked! And we have still have 5 months to go…

I was so wild when I saw young Bundjalung woman Ness Turnbull- Roberts arrested at the Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney. I haven’t been that wild since Parramatta choked against the Doggies in the 1998 grand final qualifier. I watched on as NITV’s Racheal Hocking asked her what was happening and watched on as NSW Police surrounded her, closed in on her and arrested her. I was scared. David Dungay Junior was surrounded just like this. It’s just lucky Racheal was filming her or who knows what might have happened? And I know some of you may be thinking I’m going too far there, but I have 439 reasons to be scared.

I’m really feeling for the Dungay family who have been truly victims of this system we are all so desperate to burn down. We have all seen them week after week lead rallies, front the media and politicians, fighting for justice for their beloved David Dungay Jnr, his last words “I can’t breathe” the solemn catch cry of the…