Record number of Pat Dixon Scholarships awarded

(L-R: Bernard Higgins – Wagga Wagga City Council, Cr Ricky Buchanan – Nambucca Valley Council and Malcolm Saunderson – Lismore City Council)

Record Number of Pat Dixon Scholarships Awarded

The Local Government sector has kicked off Reconciliation Week 2022 with a record three Pat Dixon Scholarships awarded to support the professional development of young Aboriginal people.

The Scholarships were established in honour of Pat Dixon, a Dhanggati woman who became the first Aboriginal woman elected to local government in Australia.

Wagga Wagga City Council’s Bernard Higgins, Lismore City Council’s Malcolm Saunderson and Cr Ricky Buchanan of Nambucca Valley Council were today named as winners of the annual scholarships.

Local Government NSW President Darriea Turley said it was the first time that three scholarships had been awarded in a single year, demonstrating the wealth of talent coming through council ranks.

“It’s incredibly important to support all the promising people working for the community through their local council,” Cr Turley said.

“We need to back the next generation, particularly those individuals who help ensure that our councils reflect the rich and diverse communities they serve.”

The Scholarships, which are administered by Local Government NSW, are awarded each year to an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander councillor or member of council staff to undertake further study, professional development or research.

Recipients of the Scholarships are determined by four trustees: Local Government Aboriginal Network President, Cr Dominic Wy Kanak; Cr Dave Carter of Lachlan Shire Council, Mr Warren Roberts, a family representative of the late Pat Dixon, and the LGNSW President.

Cr Dave Carter said Mr Higgins intends to use his scholarship to attend the 2022 Reconciliation Australia Conference, before developing Wagga Wagga City Council’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

“This year’s Reconciliation Week theme Be Brave, Make Change calls on us all to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation, so it’s really appropriate that Bernard is using his scholarship to further that goal,” Cr Carter said.

Cr Dominic Wy Kanak said both Malcolm Saunderson and Cr Ricky Buchanan were using their Scholarships to undertake further study: a Diploma of Leadership and Management and a Certificate in Training and Assessment respectively.

“We need to give all our young people the opportunity to reach their full potential, and these Scholarships are part of doing just that,” he said.

Warren Roberts said the three recipients were each contributing to a better future for their communities.

“Aunty Pat dedicated her life to serving the community, not only as a Councillor on Armidale City Council for 17 years but as Chief Executive Officer of the Armidale District Medical Service and Chair of New England and North Coast State Housing,” Mr Roberts said.

“I think that she’d be really pleased to see this year’s scholarships going to not one but three young people with the same community commitment.”

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