The winners of the inaugural Mollie Dyer Awards were announced today in Melbourne. In honour of its extraordinary founder, the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) launched three new annual awards honouring an Aboriginal community member, and Aboriginal employee in the sector, and an Aboriginal young person and for their contribution to Aboriginal child and family welfare, particularly children in out-of-home care.
VACCA’s CEO Prof. Muriel Bamblett AM says the awards are a highly positive step for the Aboriginal community: “we established the Mollie Dyer Awards to celebrate Aboriginal people’s excellent work in supporting Aboriginal children, young people and families to feel safe, be strong in their identity and connected to culture and their community across Victoria”.
Presenting the awards to the winners listed below were members of the judging panel including; CEO of VACCA Muriel Bamblett AM, James Atkinson, CEO Rumbalara and Chairperson of VACCA, Justin Mohammed Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People of Victoria, Josh Smith Executive Director of Aboriginal Victoria with the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Aunty Melva Johnson, Winner of the Community Award – is a Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba Elder, and a champion of Aboriginal education and health. She has taken a leading role in setting up community services around Echuca.
Aunty Laura Bell, Winner of the Community Award – a Gunditjmara Elder who works tirelessly for Aboriginal communities across Victoria. Through her ability to inspire and enlighten, she has helped implement educational, legal and cultural initiatives that have improved lives and created opportunities for Aboriginal people.
Aunty Elaine Taylor, Winner of the Community Regional Award – a proud Wemba-Wemba Bunurong woman and foster grandmother, she has been a Director of the Aboriginal Child Care Agency and the Aboriginal Youth Support & Recreation for four years. Aunty Eliane is also a Director of Dandenong & District Aborigines Co-operative. She has a special interest in Family Services and Mental Health.
Lowana Moore, Winner of the Community Regional Award – a proud Wamba Wamba woman. Lowana is the Programs Manager at Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc (VAEAI), where she has worked for over 20 years. Lowana has worked tirelessly in connecting her family who have been part of the OOHC system, through the return to country program.
Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, Winner of the Community Regional Award – A proud Bangerang and Wiradjuri woman, Geraldine has devoted her career to expanding the possibilities available for Koorie people through education. Geraldine has been the President of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association since 1999.
Emma Bamblett, Winner of the Employee Award and a proud Wemba Wemba woman raised in Echuca and living in Melbourne. Emma is the State-Wide Aboriginal Cultural Planning Coordinator. Emma has worked at VACCA for many years, is an acclaimed artist and a strong advocate for the cultural rights of Aboriginal children and young people in Out-of-Home Care.
Nakayla Bamblett, runner up of the Employee Award, works at VACSAL and has spent over a decade working at Aboriginal Community controlled organisations. Nikayla has been a strong advocate for young people her whole life. At 17, she joined the Koorie Youth Council. She strongly believes in giving Aboriginal youth a voice and helping them find their inner power.
Phyllis Rose, runner up of the Employee Award and a proud Gunditjmara and Mutti – Mutti woman. For the last 15 years Phyllis Rose has worked tirelessly for her community within community services to ensure that her community get the supports they need for a better future. Her career began at the League and she has worked at VACCA for five years, she is the Acting Senior Manager for Family Services and Family Violence Program.
The Youth Award winner will not be announced publicly however, we are very proud of their inspirational leadership.
Aunty Mollie Dyer worked tirelessly for the Aboriginal community and in 1976 Mollie, with other Victorian Aboriginal community members founded VACCA, the first Aboriginal-run agency to support Aboriginal children and families.