Aboriginal community development officer Maree Edwards’ contribution to Lake Macquarie was recognised yesterday at a state level at the Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government, in Sydney.
Held on the eve of International Women’s Day, the awards celebrate the contribution of women to local government in NSW.
Ms Edwards, a descendent of the Wonnaruah people, took home the regional award for a non-senior staff member, in recognition of her ongoing work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Lake Macquarie.
Council’s chief executive officer, Morven Cameron, said Ms Edwards was a worthy recipient of the award.
“Maree’s efforts in promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in Lake Macquarie cannot be understated,” Ms Cameron said.
“I’d like to congratulate Maree on this award win, and thank her for her contribution to both Lake Macquarie City and local government in NSW.”
Ms Cameron said Ms Edwards was an important touchpoint between council, local aboriginal land councils, schools, community groups, elders and the wider Lake Macquarie community.
“I believe her exemplary work was key to us being named NSW Aboriginal Council of the Year in 2016,” Ms Cameron said.
“She organises annual Close the Gap, Reconciliation and NAIDOC Week events, runs cultural awareness training for council staff and external stakeholders, publishes the quarterly Koori Grapevine newsletter, facilitates grants programs and, notably, in 2013 she authored a report which was successfully endorsed by council, to have the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags permanently displayed within the council chambers.”
MEANWHILE, Morisset High School teacher Selena Archibald was named as one of three finalists in the NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year category, at the NSW Woman of the Year Awards.
Ms Archibald, who is fondly known as Aunty, Mum or Ma, was hailed as a much-admired educator who has been supporting students at Morisset High School since 1999.
Ms Archibald is the founder and role model for Aboriginal education at the school.
“Selena supports Indigenous adolescents grappling with 21st-century issues and school demands, who are also exploring their cultural identity,” judges said of Ms Archibald.
“She shows them options for their future and coordinates educational and cultural programs to support all students and staff. There were tears the day her first group finished Year 12 and obtained their Higher School Certificates.”
The award was won by Julie Shelley, a Kamilaroi woman, who has lived and worked in the Western Sydney Aboriginal community for more than 48 years.