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NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year Finalists

2021 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year Award Finalists

A dedicated pillar of her community, the NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year is a role model who promotes economic, cultural and/or social wellbeing of Aboriginal people in NSW.

Dr Cynthia Briggs

Cynthia Briggs headshot

Dr Cynthia Briggs is a Gamilaraay woman, dedicated to improving education, health and welfare in local Aboriginal communities. Her commitment started in 1977 at the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service.

Dr Briggs developed and implemented programs like the state-wide rollout of the 2010 Aboriginal 'Cultural Capability and Train the Trainer’ for the former NSW Department of Community Services

A secondary school and TAFE teacher, Dr Briggs had input into educational support initiatives to improve literacy, numeracy and retention rates of Aboriginal students.

Dr Briggs is involved with multiple committees such as the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, Gamilaraay Aboriginal Legal Services and the DV NSW Board.

Ms Dixie Link-Gordon

Dixie Link-Gordon headshot

Dixie Link-Gordon is a proud Gurang Gurang woman who dedicated over 30 years to reducing domestic, sexualised and family violence towards Aboriginal women and children.

Ms Link-Gordon founded the Mudgin-Gal Aboriginal Women’s Corporation, a meeting place, support point and advocacy centre for Indigenous women.

Creator of ‘Breaking Silent Codes’, Ms Link-Gordon works to stand up against sexual abuse in the Asia-Pacific region. She’s also a founding member of the Domestic Violence NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Steering Committee.

Ms Link-Gordon also provides support to women in need by leading the First Nations Women's Legal Program at Women's Legal Service.

Ms Helen Duroux

Helen Duroux headshot

Helen Duroux is a proud Gamiliaroi woman who used her position as CEO at Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) to strengthen relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Tenterfield.

Ms Duroux transformed her LALC office into a cultural and education hub, with a thriving Aboriginal art gallery and bush tucker nursery. Council and government organisations use the plants for beautification and revegetation projects.

Countless Aboriginal people gained meaningful employment or training opportunities thanks to Ms Duroux’s work with job providers. She is the catalyst to numerous businesses in her community promoting Aboriginal entrepreneurship.

Ms Duroux is also dedicated to ensuring the safety of families, at-risk mothers and children. She liaises with housing providers on their behalf to secure suitable accommodation and emergency safe housing.

Ms Dawn Smith

Dawn Smith headshot

Dawn Smith is a Wangkumarra woman and voice for Aboriginal people in her small, outback community of Bourke.

For more than 20 years, Ms Smith has been an active member of the Wangkumarra land group. She is renowned for her proactive role in securing funding for improved housing for Aboriginal people in a nearby community.

Ms Smith was also on the Edith Edwards Women’s Refuge board of directors, where she guided Aboriginal case workers in assisting women and families experiencing hardship.

Now in her late seventies, Ms Smith continues to provide invaluable assistance to those involved with the justice system with the Aboriginal Legal Service.

Mrs Kristy Masella

Kristy Masella headshot

Kristy Masella holds ‘Murri woman’ among her proudest titles, which include CEO of Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES), award winning author and Harvard Scholar.

Ms Masella’s efforts led to more than 6,000 jobs for Indigenous people through AES, Australia’s largest not for profit Aboriginal employment and training company. She is also Chair of TranbyAboriginal College and Deputy Chair of Qunanbiri Incorporated.

A role model for women in business, she also established programs specifically designed to develop leadership in young women including ‘Cotton Blossoms’ and ‘Boss Lady’.

Ms Masella co-authored the award-winning finding aid ‘Connecting Kin: Guide to Records’, which helped people search for personal records and reconnect with lost family, identities and history.

June Riemer

June Riemer headshot

June Riemer is a proud Gumbaynggirr - Dunghutti woman who spent forty years championing the rights of First Nations People and those living with a disability.

Ms Riemer was instrumental in developing films, tools and templates for people with a disability, drawing on Aboriginal artwork, storytelling and culture. This included the first research on autism in Indigenous communities.

Ms Riemer led national conferences and workshops on working with Aboriginal people inclusively and culturally appropriate access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

An accomplished speaker, Ms Riemer shared insights from rural and remote Aboriginal communities at the United Nations. She is also an active member of the Commonwealth Disabled People's Forum and Pacific Disability Forum.

Dr Lynette Riley

Dr Lynette Riley headshot

Dr Lynette Riley is a Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi woman, recognised as an outstanding scholar and leader in educational supports in Aboriginal Education and Studies.

Since the eighties, she developed policy on Aboriginal education, literacy courses, student services and study programs. Dr Riley was awarded a Doctorate in Philosophy in 2017 for her thesis, ‘Conditions of Academic Success for Aboriginal Students in Schools’.

An associate professor at the University of Sydney, Dr Riley helped deliver a Bachelor of Education course for regional Aboriginal students. She currently co-ordinates mandatory Aboriginal Education and Indigenous Studies programs.

Dr Riley contributes to community leadership on NAIDOC Week; NSW Government’s OCHRE Research Governance committees; and is on the inaugural NSW Aboriginal Languages Trust Board.

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Last updated: 06 Apr 2021