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The winner of this award category was selected by the NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

2020 Finalists

Kirli Saunders (Winner)

Kirli Saunders headshot

Kirli is a proud Gunai woman, born on Gundungurra Country with ties to the Yuin, Biripi and Gadigal people. An award winning international children’s author, poet, emerging playwright and artist, she founded and manages Poetry in First Languages at Red Room Poetry.

Kirli is a passionate advocate for the celebration, sharing and preservation of First Nations language, culture and country through the arts. Her Poetry in First Languages project, delivered with Red Room Poetry connects schools with Elders, language custodians and poets, who support both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal kids to create poetry in First Nations languages.

Kirli was the inaugural winner of the WA 2019 Premiers Literary - Daisy Utemmorah Award and the winner of the University of Canberra ATSI Poetry Prize 2019. Her books include Prime Ministers Literary Award Shortlisted, CBCA nominated and internationally published, The Incredible Freedom Machines (Scholastic) and Kindred (Magabala Books).

Kirli’s work seeks to heal intergenerational trauma and promote pride in First Nations communities.

Professor Ngiare Brown

Ngiare Brown headshot

Ngiare is a Yuin nation woman from the south coast of NSW. She graduated from medicine in 1992 as the first identified Aboriginal doctor from NSW, and has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, research, policy, politics and advocacy at a national and international level.

Ngiare is a founding member of The Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors' Congress, and sits on the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council. She is passionate about the physical, cultural and social wellbeing of children and adolescents. She has established a not-for-profit, Ngaoara, focused on child wellbeing, delivering clinical outreach services to Aboriginal children affected by trauma.

Ngiare is a Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission; a founding member of the Close the Gap initiative; has been a representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for the past 10 years; and is a clinician with the NRL Medical team for the Koori Knockout and regional sports carnivals, as well as a volunteer surf life saver.

Her efforts have created pathways for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to pursue their personal and professional aspirations.

Associate Professor Pauline Clague

Pauline is a filmmaker and a mentor to emerging Indigenous filmmakers.

A Yaegl woman from the NSW north coast, she has worked as a storyteller and producer, documenting Aboriginal stories in film and TV for the past 30 years.

While working at NITV she created the landmark series Our Stories, Our Way, Everyday, which over three years created around 380 short documentaries from around the country, winning her the Stanley Hawes award in 2015 for her contribution to Australian Documentaries.

Pauline is the founder and Artistic Director of Winda Film Festival, which showcases Indigenous films produced by Indigenous filmmakers, including from regional and remote communities.

As the manager of the Cultural Resilience Hub, Jumbunna UTS, Pauline produces community multi-media installations, her most recent work, which was developed in collaboration with several Aboriginal communities, dealt with the deaths of Aboriginal women in custody.

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Last updated: 26 Mar 2020