news / 03/07/2023

2023 Wathaurong Community NAIDOC Awards

The winners of the 2023 Wathaurong Community NAIDOC Awards were announced at the Flag Raising & Community Day held at Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative on Monday 3rd July, 2023. 

The Community Flag Raising event marked the official start of NAIDOC Week in the region, which began on Sunday 2nd July and runs until Sunday 9th July, 2023. 

The NAIDOC 2023 theme – For Our Elders – celebrates the important role that our Elders have played, and continue to play, in our communities and families. They are cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors, leaders, hard workers and our loved ones.

At Wathaurong, we are about strong community, strong culture, strong country. This year’s Wathaurong Community NAIDOC Award Winners exemplify these values and we congratulate all of them on their awards.


Nedok Yoongga (Elder/Respected Person)

Winner – Aunty Sandra Manning

AUNTY SANDRA MANNING was nominated for going above and beyond for the Wathaurong community, in her role as a Community Strengthening Facilitator and local justice liaison. Aunty Sandy never stops, her heart and soul are all for community. She is described as “young at heart” and respects everyone no matter their age, and a positive influence and hard worker. 

Ngarrwa Ngitj (Community Person)

Joint Winners – Jay Hickey & Nicole Kirby

JAY HICKEY was nominated for his outstanding support for community and his engagement with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Jay goes above and beyond lending a hand to people. Jay shares his passion and skills such as art or skating with community, and has a positive influence on those around him. 

NICOLE KIRBY was nominated for her dedication and support in being actively involved in the running of the Wathaurong Women’s Group. As well as being a regular attendee and volunteer for Women’s Group, Nicole and her family are always involved in Wathaurong community events and willing to put up a hand to help out with whatever is needed. 

Koolay Goopma (Young Male Achiever)

Winner – Vaughan Gray

VAUGHAN GRAY was nominated for His passion and dedication to his work with the Wathaurong youth. Vaughan goes above and beyond for community, outside of what is required in his Youth Justice role, and connects with the young mob. Vaughan is described as a caring and loving person. 

Moordeemoondeek Goopma (Young Female achiever)

Winner – Layla Boseley

LAYLA BOSELEY was nominated for her outstanding work in organising and participating in community events. Her hard work has been recognised and appreciated by many community members, and she was honoured earlier this year by winning the Victorian First Nations Trainee of the Year Award. Many staff and community members have watched Layla grow in various aspects over the past year and her work and commitment has been rewarded. Layla is such a positive influence on community and her happy smiling face is always a joy to see at community events and activities. 


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