Monday, April 22, 2024

Blacktown City celebrates Aboriginal triumphs

Blacktown City Council has celebrated the outstanding achievements of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at its 2021 NAIDOC Awards ceremony.

Council recognised three extraordinary residents for their contributions and successes at a special presentation ceremony last week.

Proud Gamilaraay/Kamilaroi woman, Rita McKenzie, was named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NAIDOC Citizen of the Year for her unwavering dedication in the areas of Indigenous health and welfare.

As an Aboriginal youth worker, Rita has long served as a key role model for Indigenous communities across Blacktown City and Western Sydney. 

She has devoted her career to improving the lives and outcomes of Indigenous people and in educating businesses and communities on indigenous cultures, beliefs, and traditions.

Rita has been committed to closing the gap through her role in leading the WentWest Aboriginal Health Team and advising doctors and allied health practitioners on Indigenous health issues, Council said in a statement.

Sports star, Todd Dorwood, was named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sports Person of the Year for his outstanding achievements in disability sports.

A Darug man, Todd, is legally blind and hearing impaired, but has overcome all obstacles to make his mark in a string of sports.

Todd has represented NSW in disability swimming and competed in the NSW Blind Cricket National Championship. He has played for the Newtown club in the NSW Physical Disability Rugby League competition since 2015 and last year, was captain of the Indigenous Combined Nations team.

His sporting talents also extend to indoor soccer where, in 2018, Todd captained the Australian disability indoor soccer team against New Zealand.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young Achiever of the Year was awarded to 11-year-old, Emma Hoskins, for her dedication to helping others and sharing her culture.

Emma is passionate about educating her peers and teachers about Aboriginal culture, and is a youth representative at many cultural events, including NAIDOC.

She has led several projects at her school about caring for the environment, including a Bush Tucker Garden.

On the sporting field, Emma has been selected for representative teams in oz-tag, touch football, cross country and athletics.

Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, Council was forced to postpone its July awards ceremony. NAIDOC Week was held in July, with this year’s theme being ‘Heal Country’.

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