Strong women have been recognised at Forbes’ 2018 community NAIDOC celebrations.
Joy Russell and Codie Smith were named joint winners of the Indigenous person of the year title, from four nominees who were “all doing amazing things in our community”.
Joy has worked at Forbes High School and volunteered in the community for more than 20 years, the day’s MC Barry Merrit said.
She has given her time to teach the Wiradjuri language, run sewing classes and parenting groups, and served on the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.
“She is always there if you need her,” Mr Merritt said. “Has never asked for thanks, just does it because she loves her community.”
Joy thanked those who had supported her, including staff at the school and her own mother.
Co-award winner Kodie is working at Forbes Preschool, and worked hard to complete her traineeship and diploma in a mere six months.
Now completing her university study with distinctions, she has been awarded a scholarship by Sarah Mitchell, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Early Childhood Education.
She also gives her time to the AECG, and thanked Joy for inspiring her over many years.
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Kaiden Haynes was named Indigenous Youth of the Year.
A member of Forbes High School’s Youth Wellness Committee and the White Ribbon Supporter group, he has now become a White Ribbon Ambassador.
“On average one woman is killed every week because of domestic violence,” Mr Merritt said.
“This has got to stop, because of young men like this, is gonna make it stop.”
Kaiden thanked his mum and nan for their support and inspiration.
Celebrations at South Circle Oval included Indigenous dance, song, and an afternoon of activities and sports.
Three local women shared their stories and paid tribute to the other women in their lives, who had inspired them.
Donna Bliss, CEO of Yoorana Gunya, Kelly Bowden from Binaal Billa Family Violence Legal Service, and Forbes Preschool’s Tahlia Horvat all spoke.
They shared their journeys of finding their path and passion in life, and of the women who encouraged them.
“I remember mum telling us stories how she was raised, and how she had strong influential women in her life,” Kelly said.
“A line of strong women run in our family and I am proud to be a part of it and pass my knowledge and strength on to my daughter and community.”
Donna Bliss explained she had worked numerous jobs before finding her niche at Yoorana Gunya.
She spoke of how the service had grown, since it was started by a group of strong Aboriginal women affected by family violence.
“I think Forbes should be proud of everyone that’s helped us along the way,” she said. “It’s been a long journey, but we did it.”
Tahlia Horvat, who has moved to Forbes to work at the Preschool as an early childhood educator, also told hundreds of gathered school students that she had found her passion in her career.
“I’ve discovered that I love working with children every day,” she said. “There is no better feeling than loving what you do every day.”
“Family is so important, set yourself a goal, work really hard towards it, have a good work ethic, be open to trying new things.”
Tahlia paid tribute to her late nanna, and encouraged everyone to take time to thank the important women in their lives.
Mayor Graeme Miller said it was great to see so many young people present.
“We need to celebrate the culture, the achievements of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and days like today enable us to do that,” Mayor Graeme Miller said.