The outstanding contributions of Aboriginal people in our community were recognised at the NAIDOC SA Awards, held at the Grand Chancellor Hotel on Monday 9 July 2018. 

From a scholar who is the first Indigenous person to write a doctorate on the Stolen Generations, to an elder who is the driving force behind a valuable men’s shed program to a young person who overcame serious illness to become a national title holder, the awards remind us of the diversity and talents of South Australian Aboriginal people.

Dr Jenni Caruso is the first Indigenous woman to complete a PhD thesis on the Stolen Generations. Her work on the removal of children to Croker Island and the policies around child removal was the culmination of an academic career which she began when she returned to school to complete her SACE at age 35. Dr Caruso was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sportsman of the Year Award was presented to a young man who holds the national title in the sport of cheerleading. Lachlan Buckskin overcame guillain barre syndrome syndrome, which saw him wake up one morning in 2015 completely paralysed, to become successful locally and nationally and win the national title in 2017. Lachlan also works with young people, he is an Aboriginal Support Office with an SA primary school.

There doesn’t seem to be a sport that Ruth Wallace hasn’t achieved in, she ran the New York Marathon in 2014, played for Adelaide United Soccer team from 2008 – 2013, was a member of the Australian Junior Matildas team and more recently has moved to AFL after being recruited by the Adelaide Crows. Ruth Wallace was awarded Sportswoman of the Year at the NAIDOC 2018 Awards.

Scholar of the Year was presented to Ngarindjerri Kaurna woman Ashum Owen. Ashum has completed double degrees in Law and Psychology, while contributing to university life with the Flinders Indigenous Student Association and the Indigenous Law Student Mentoring Program among others.

Aunty Stephanie Gollan is a Ngarrindjeri woman who was born at Raukkan and she was awarded Female Elder of the Year this year. She is skilled in traditional and contemporary cultural techniques, such as jewellery making and basket weaving. Known as an enthusiastic and inspirational elder, Aunty Steph was recognised for her crafts and creativity and for sharing her knowledge.

Uncle Trevor Bromley is the driving force behind the Zebra Finch Men’s group, which brings men together to talk, share a meal and make artefacts. Along the way it provides important social support particularly to men with a disability. Trevor Bromley is also a part of the SA Elders Council and an Aboriginal Culture Officer with Kura Yerlo Aboriginal community service. He was awarded the Male Elder of the Year title this year.

Chelsea Eldridge was recognised as SA Apprentice or Trainee of the Year. She completed the coursework for her role ahead of schedule and has gained a permanent position. Chelsea dealt with the sudden passing of her father with courage and resilience during her training.

Ngarrindjeri man Grant Rigney has worked for country for decades with the Ngarrindjeri land and water program. He is tireless in his advocacy for country and will speak to ensure that all, even complex issues are heard. He was presented the Caring for Country Award for 2018.

Cedric Varcoe is a Ngarrindjeri man who has had national and international success with his unique artworks.He also contributes to community art projects, including holding workshops for prisoners in Port Augusta. Cedric Varcoe is NAIDOC SA Artist of the Year.

Carly Dodd spends time both volunteer and paid taking care of Elders.She is also an artist and her work is appearing during the upcoming SALA Week. Carly was awarded Young Person of the Year for 2018.

Colleen Raven creates photographic portraits with a unique style and vision that has seen her business, Nharla Photography be recognised as ATSI Business of the Year.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Aunty Pat Waria Read, who has worked for the community in many roles across many years, including with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance. She draws on her Christian faith to work with love and patience and has dealt with personal health challenges with courage and strength.

By Lucy Kingston


SANTS acknowledges that the land on which our office is based is the traditional lands for the Kaurna people and we respect their spiritual and cultural relationship with their country.