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AVIS Gale was shaking so much she thought she was having a heart attack when told last week she was a finalist in La Trobe University’s NAIDOC awards.
The member of the Stolen Generation went on to claim Elder of the Year at last night’s awards ceremony at The Cube Wodonga.
“It recognises all the work I have done to promote indigenous people,” she said.
“I am one of the Stolen Generation and I have been sharing my story with the community.
“By sharing my story it’s a chance to unburden myself of that part of my life.”
The awards, part of NAIDOC celebrations this week, were hosted by the university’s indigenous education unit.
About 80 people filled The Cube to recognise the achievements of indigenous people across the region.
La Trobe indigenous student services officer Dr Pettina Love said it was an exciting event for the community.
“It’s the first time we have held these awards and they recognise the strong contribution indigenous people make to the university and the broader community,” she said.
“We have a strong indigenous student population at the university and also an indigenous education unit.”
Judy Cue was a finalist in the Elder of the Year category.
“I have been in the community for more than 20 years and was one of the co-founders of the Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation,” she said.
“I am a proud Gunditjmara woman from south-west Victoria and it means a lot to be named a finalist in these awards.”
The Uncle Arthur Melrose Encouragement award was awarded to Melissa Bilney.
Meanwhile, youth of the year award was presented to a hip hop group, while Liz Heta was named community person of the year.
Scholar of the year went to Bobby Whybrow and artist of the year to Walter Melrose, while David Noonan received an appreciation award.