Charles Sturt University 2018 NAIDOC Awards recognise Indigenous women

Important occasion: Teresa Cochrane with Nina Cass' award, Kelly O'Brien, Uncle Bill O'Brien, Rhonda Radley with Arlene McInherny's award, and Shaarn Hayward after the award presentation.
Important occasion: Teresa Cochrane with Nina Cass' award, Kelly O'Brien, Uncle Bill O'Brien, Rhonda Radley with Arlene McInherny's award, and Shaarn Hayward after the award presentation.

Four Indigenous women who influence and shape our communities have been recognised.

Shaarn Hayward, Arlene McInherny, Kelly O’Brien and Nina Cass were honoured with CSU NAIDOC Awards during a presentation at the Port Macquarie Campus on August 17. 

CSU called for nominations during NAIDOC Week to honour Indigenous women influencing and shaping our communities.

The 2018 National NAIDOC theme was Because of her, we can.

Shaarn Hayward said the award was a big surprise but a nice one.

“It was nice knowing the team I work in nominated me,” she said.

“I think it’s a very important theme and it was a nice way for CSU to recognise Indigenous women in the community.”

The Indigenous Academic Success Program nominated Shaarn.

Shaarn works tirelessly across specific Indigenous programs within CSU and her role oversees many positions.

She is passionate about improving access to degrees for Indigenous people and improving outcomes once they are enrolled.

Shaarn leads by example within her team and the entire CSU family.

Arlene McInherny has played major roles in reviving the local Aboriginal culture and educating the wider community on Aboriginal issues.

She has shown passion, commitment and dedication to social justice, looking after country, family and promoting education.

Rhonda Radley collected the award on Arlene’s behalf as she was unable to attend the presentation.

Arlene has been one of the Gathang language activists and was the first Gathang language teacher at TAFE.

Arlene has worked with Aboriginal students as a cultural teacher and has supported Aboriginal women by creating opportunities for them to socially connect.

She is seen as a role model and a future leader in the local Aboriginal community.

Kelly O’Brien has worked in the community services sector over the past 20 years and now is the Aboriginal liaison officer at Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.

Kelly has a passion for her work and she continually looks for opportunities to work collaboratively with the community, the awards presentation heard.

Kelly’s community involvement spans many groups and organisations, while she provides mentoring and support to young up-and-coming Aboriginal leaders in the community.

She is an amazing role model and embodies the 2018 NAIDOC theme, the presentation ceremony heard.

Kelly said she was shocked to receive the award.

“I just really enjoy doing what I do,” she said.

Kelly said taking part in a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders program helped her to find the courage and confidence to walk the path of an emerging leader.

“I really feel privileged [to receive the award] and it’s an important honour to receive this kind of recognition for something that I really enjoy,” she said.

Nina Cass, who was unable to attend the presentation, sent her thanks and asked Teresa Cochrane and Uncle Bill O’Brien to accept the award on her behalf.

The CSU Indigenous student liaison officer has improved the lives of many students.

She has helped students realise their potential and has showed achieving dreams is possible with persistence, dedication and hard work.

Nina is an active member in the organisation of NAIDOC, Reconciliation, National Close the Gap Day, and the Port Macquarie Indigenous Running Group.

The presentation ceremony heard Nina was a perfect example of a strong, influential woman that positively impacted the people around her.

Uncle Bill O’Brien presented the awards.

“It makes for a strong community when we can all work together and we have these strong women who are making things better,” he said.

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