ELDERS THANKED: Mick Eggmolesse, Neola Savage, Gay Sirriss, Julie Ingra, Thelma Coleman and Richard Johnson shared their families’ stories of growing up in Gladstone.
ELDERS THANKED: Mick Eggmolesse, Neola Savage, Gay Sirriss, Julie Ingra, Thelma Coleman and Richard Johnson shared their families’ stories of growing up in Gladstone. Mara Pattison-Sowden

Indigenous elders recognised for leading reconciliation

THESE six elders have shared some of their families' stories about their times and tribes in the Gladstone region.

They were thanked alongside four community members who have given their passion to improve indigenous services and understanding in the wider community.

Richard Johnson was honoured as this year's Elder of the Year at the NAIDOC Ball, which kicked off local events taking place all week.

NAIDOC, which stands for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Day Observance Committee, is an Australia-wide movement to reflect on achievements of Aboriginal people and culture.

This year's theme, We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate, was highlighted across the night with personal and community achievements.

Uncle Richard, the respectful name for indigenous elders, said he was humbled by the award."But does that mean I have to take a rest now?," he asked.

"I think it's just the beginning."

Drawing from a visit from his Vanuatuan relatives last week, Uncle Richard hopes to start a project to help the people in Vanuatu recover from the devastating Cyclone Pam in March.

"There's a program designed to bring them out here to work in particular areas, like Bundaberg," he said.

"I think that area there is a region of significance for employment where they can earn some money to send back home."

As a member of South Gladstone's Rotary Club, he said Rotary could play a major role in helping.

EVENTS TODAY - Monday 6 July:

 Flag-raising ceremony at Gladstone Regional Council, 9.30am

 Aurizon Breakfast  also at council chambers, 10am

 Official launch of Arts NAIDOC at Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum, 6pm



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