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Inaugural Nura Gili Awards Night Celebrating Indigenous Success at UNSW

“It was deadly to see so many people come together to celebrate Indigenous success at UNSW. The awards night to me was a huge success and I can’t wait to celebrate again next year!”

The Inaugural Nura Gili Awards night was held on Friday 20th September. The night was developed by Summa Naylor of Nura Gili’s student support team to encourage and inspire students during their studies. Dressed to the nines, students, alumni, staff, family members, community and industry guests all shared in the evening festivities at the UNSW Roundhouse with photographer Maja Baska and her photo booth adding to the celebrations. Well known Aboriginal actor Luke Carroll emceed the evening with live music by Aboriginal musician Howard Sumner who is also currently on the Director’s course at NIDA.

In his welcome address Director of Nura Gili Professor Martin Nakata encouraged everyone, especially our students, to pursue their studies and their professions wholeheartedly to the highest level. He encouraged us that in looking after yourself and completing your studies you are enabling others to thrive, and live out their dreams. This would help build capacity in the communities you come from and others too. He reminded us that there are many avenues in which you can give back even when you live and work away from where you come from and thanked the contributions and generosity of everyone both here across UNSW and the many industry supporters and sponsors who all contribute to the success of our Indigenous students.  Professor Nakata particularly noted the strengths of the Nura Gili student support team which provides such a positive and supportive environment throughout the year enabling so many students to thrive with such a strong sense of belonging.  That legacy, network and environment would continue to flourish with our alumni network. A number of UNSW Indigenous alumni joined us for the evening; each Alumni was presented with a special graduation bear with both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag colours. The atmosphere and focus of the celebrations continued to soar with the presentations for current students. Compelling speeches were delivered by Karl Moziak from John Holland Group and Adrian Williams from AMP Property each of whom are leading great change with fortitude for advancing Indigenous success in their industry fields.

Indigenous Student Awards included:

  • The Excellence Awards for academic achievement in each Faculty. The winners are: Matthew Martineer, ASB; Kate Wallace, Faculty of Built Environment; Shevaun Wright, COFA; Edward Hyland, Faculty of Engineering; Rianna Tatana, FASS; Jenavive Westbury Faculty of Law; Laura Fitzgerald, Faculty of Medicine.
  • The Spirit Awards which recognised students who had overcome many challenges and demonstrated strong commitment to their studies. The winners are: Ben Eisikovich ASB; Ethel-Anne Gundy, COFA; John Carr, FASS; Linda Kennedy, Faculty of Built Environment; Rachel McVittie, Faculty of Engineering; Jonathon Captain Webb Faculty of Law; Guy Dennis Faculty of Medicine;Kataya Barratt, Faculty of Science.
  • The Burbuga Birrung awards meaning Rising Star in traditional Gadigal language were given to Lucinda Stewart, Quinton Vea Vea and Riley Court–Bennet
  • The Indigenous Accountants Awards were created and sponsored by Adrian Williams who has been lobbying and raising awareness at the lack of Indigenous Australians qualified as Accountants within Australia since 2009. His Awards reflect his close association with Nura Gili and ASB and in particular our students which he describes as “true warriors forging new paths for themselves and creating new possibilities for others” The Indigenous Accountants Rock Awardees were Steve Fogarty, Sarah Hyland and Codie Martin.

Special thanks to John Holland Group, Babana Aboriginal Men’s group, Adrian Williams, Australian School of Business, Faculty of Law, and the Rural Clinical School who sponsored these awards for our Indigenous students.

The spirit and shared pride was perceptible throughout the evening.  As award winner Codie Martin shared:

"It was good to see both past and current students being acknowledged for their hard work and dedication towards their education. The Awards night was great; from the food to the people to the awards handed out everything was awesome. I was surprised to even be nominated let alone win an award. I am deeply appreciated to have been given this award and would like to thank Adrian Williams for sponsoring it. Adrian you rock!"

Rebecca Harcourt 25.9.2013