Legislative Council: Thursday, July 07, 2022



The Hon. R.B. MARTIN (15:07): My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Will the minister inform the council about the winner of the 2022 NAIDOC SA Person of the Year Award?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:07): I am very happy to answer that question, and I am happy to have received a number of questions from my colleagues in this chamber about NAIDOC Week. It is certainly that one special week of the year where we get to celebrate Aboriginal people's achievements in South Australia, so it gives me great pleasure to inform the council about the winner of this year's 2022 NAIDOC Week SA Person of the Year Award.

Every year, the NAIDOC committee awards a number of awards to the remarkable contribution of Aboriginal South Australians. There are many categories. They include Male and Female Elder of the Year, Person of the Year, Scholar of the Year, Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, Artist of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, Young Person of the Year, LGBTIQ Person of the Year, Trainee of the Year, Caring for Country, and Business of the Year.

This year, I wish to take some time to talk about the award for this year's Person of the Year, who is an incredible community leader, Corey McLennan, who won the award. Corey McLennan has dedicated many years of service; he has dedicated pretty much all of his life to his community and his region. He started his career at the Far West Coast Aboriginal Association, later becoming an Aboriginal education manager at Ceduna public school.

Corey is currently the chief executive officer of the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation. In this role, Corey has worked tirelessly to improve the social, cultural and economic status of Aboriginal people and their families in Koonibba and surrounding communities. Corey is currently the chairperson of the Far West Coast Aboriginal Leaders community group that comprises the chief executives of the five main Aboriginal communities in the Far West Coast of South Australia.

Corey has been instrumental in advocating for major state and federal government reform initiatives within his region, including the Stronger Places, Stronger People and Empowered Communities initiatives.

He has shown strong leadership in embracing Australia's space race and was instrumental in implementing the Koonibba test range which was Australia's first fully licensed space launch facility, in partnership with Southern Launch. I know some members of this chamber have attended the community when activities have occurred there previously in relation to the space industry.

Corey is dedicated to creating opportunities for his local Aboriginal communities and consistently displays excellence in leadership, which was very apparent during the recent COVID-19 outbreak within the region. He did this while also being genuine, empathetic and compassionate as well as adopting a rational position on the pandemic to protect and ensure the health and safety of his community. It has often been commented that, amongst others, Corey's leadership and resilience helped guide the community through the devastation of COVID-19 on the Far West Coast.

Corey is also a former player, current coach and longstanding supporter of the Koonibba Football Club, which is the oldest running Aboriginal football club anywhere in Australia, founded in 1906—the Roosters, in fact. I'm reliably informed that Corey McLennan was an excellent player on the half-back for the Koonibba Roosters, earning his place in the club's team of the century. Corey was a Triple Mail Medal winner, one of only two at the club to achieve this, and achieved captaincy of the Roosters at just 23 years old. Corey retired at the ripe old age of 29 from the Koonibba Football Club after playing 147 games.

Corey intends to continue his work to improve the lives of Aboriginal people in his community on the Far West Coast, with a focus on empowering the next generation of leaders, including his son, Wayne Miller, who will be known to many in this chamber who have visited the Far West Coast. Corey stands as a shining example of leadership in that area.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Corey and his family for, over many years, meeting with me and providing insights into the challenges faced by Aboriginal people in Far West communities.