Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 06, 2024


Gladys Elphick Awards

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (15:16): My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Will the minister inform the council about the 2023 Gladys Elphick Awards?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:16): I thank the honourable member for his question and his interest in this area. Very late last year I had the privilege to once again attend the annual Gladys Elphick Awards. I have been fortunate to attend these awards a number of times over the years. This year, however, marked a special occasion as it was the 20th year of the awarding of these prestigious awards.

For those unfamiliar with Gladys Elphick and the contribution she made to Aboriginal people in this state, plenty of information is available online and in books in the library, but it is safe to say that Gladys Elphick was a remarkable Aboriginal activist whose name resonates with many Aboriginal leaders and activists today. She accomplished a number of firsts for Aboriginal people in South Australia and was a driving influence in the advancement of her people and the fight for Aboriginal women.

Amongst her many achievements Gladys played a pivotal role in establishing the Council of Aboriginal Women in South Australia, and through her leadership she addressed specific challenges faced by Aboriginal women and their families, championing causes such as education, health care and housing. The awards are a testament to the legacy of the contributions to the state, and the awards acknowledge the achievements of Aboriginal women who work tirelessly to advance the status of Aboriginal people.

The 2023 winners truly reflected the achievements of many Aboriginal women in this state who deserve to be recognised. The Young Sister Rising Star Award was awarded to Jakirah Telfer, who has displayed fearless leadership across many aspects of her young life, including through public speaking, written articles and as the female lead dancer for Yellaka (Old Wisdom New Ways). Over the last 12 months I have been fortunate to share the stage at many functions in various communities with Jakirah, and she certainly is someone that I think we will hear a lot more of in the future.

Danielle Smith was awarded the regional award. Danielle is a strong Aboriginal mother, sister, aunty, friend and colleague and a very active and valuable community member. She is always willing to support and promote her community culture through sporting and other areas, which she does with pride and the spirit of inclusion, and is the driving force in the Mount Gambier Aboriginal community.

The recipient of the Shirley Peisley Award was Kim Morey. Kim is a Anmatyerre and Arrernte person and was recognised for outstanding service to her community, as evidenced by over 28 years of service in housing, health and research.

The Quiet Achiever Award was awarded to Tanya Rankine, who is well known in the community for her compassion, empathy and staunch approach to truth-telling and other forms of advocacy. Tanya is highly regarded and is often sought out for her views, support and cultural knowledge, particularly in her role within the Child Diversion Program in Aboriginal Practices and Services for Youth Justice in the Department of Human Services.

Irene McKenzie was awarded the Perpetual Gladys Elphick Award, which recognises an Aboriginal woman for her lifetime dedication to improving the lives of others and her contribution to the Aboriginal community through her demonstrated leadership and community spirit. Irene is a Kuyani/Walpi person and was recognised for her contribution particularly to her Davenport community, where she has been a strong advocate for community development and wellbeing as well as social justice. Irene served continuously for 34 years as a board member of the South Australian Aboriginal Lands Trust.

I would like to acknowledge and congratulate all the Gladys Elphick Award winners and the Gladys Elphick Awards committee which, as a volunteer group, has been successfully organising and hosting these awards since its inception. I know the work this committee does is appreciated by the Aboriginal and broader community.