Aunty Muriel Bamblett NAIDOC's Person of the Year
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Aunty Muriel Bamblett named Person of the Year in National NAIDOC Awards

by Freya Lucas

July 10, 2024

Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) CEO Aunty Muriel Bamblett was named as the Person of the Year at the National NAIDOC Awards, held on the lands of the Kaurna people in Tarntanya (Adelaide) last Saturday.


Aunty Muriel, a proud Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung, Boon Wurrung Elder, has been VACCA’s CEO for 25 years, and was recognised for her longtime advocacy of Aboriginal children and families.


In her capacity as CEO she has been tireless in fighting for the rights of Aboriginal children to be raised in their own culture and the importance and value of family, extended family, kinship networks, culture and community in raising Aboriginal children.


VACCA has grown significantly since her appointment in 1999, and now employs more than 10000 people, delivering  over 80 programs in Victoria. 


Aunty Muriel was one of three Elders recognised through the awards, with Aunty Millie Ingram and Kim Collard recognised with Female and Male Elder of the Year Awards respectively.


Aunty Millie, a Wiradjuri Elder from Cowra in New South Wales, founded Australia’s first Aboriginal Community Controlled early childhood centre, Murawina, and later the Wyanga Aboriginal Aged Care program. She is known for her fierce political advocacy, joining the Department of Aboriginal Affairs while calling for change for Aboriginal peoples in areas including education and land rights.


Mr Collard, a Balladong/Wadjuk Elder of the Noongar Nation, was recognised for the profound impact he has made for his community, and for First Nations communities across WA, having successfully established two of Australia’s largest Indigenous-owned businesses, Kulbardi and Kooya Australia Fleet Services.


In addition to his business successes,he founded The Bibbulmun Fund in 2014, an Indigenous-led philanthropic initiative designed to facilitate positive change by and for Aboriginal people.


Over the last decade, Bibbulmun has raised more than $1.4 million, supporting numerous charitable organisations including in education, leadership, entrepreneurship, work readiness programs, youth diversionary programs, elder’s camps, disaster relief, and programs encouraging Aboriginal self-determination.


The National NAIDOC Awards ceremony was significant as it marked the 50th year of National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) and the first since last year’s failed Voice referendum.


Learn more about the Awards, or watch video presentations from the winners, using this link

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