Respected CDU academic and Larrakia Elder, author and educator Bilawara Lee has been named 2021 Female Elder of the Year at the NAIDOC Awards in Darwin.
Charles Darwin University (CDU) Larrakia Academic in Residence with Indigenous Leadership and Regional Outreach, Mrs Lee said she was honoured to receive this year’s award.
“To be recognised by your peers is a great honour and winning this award does not mean I can now rest on my laurels. I will continue to do what I do best for my community,” Ms Lee said.
Ms Lee, popularly known at Aunty B, attained a Degree in Cultural Heritage Management from the University of Canberra and is a director on several boards and a range of advisory committees.
As a part of her role at CDU, Aunty B is responsible for providing a range of culturally informed guidance, direction and support to CDU’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff and stakeholders.
CDU Professor Reuben Bolt, Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership and Regional Outreach acknowledged Aunty B’s contribution to CDU and the broader community and said he could not think of a more deserving person for the award.
“With the support of the Larrakia people and the broader Indigenous community, Aunty B provides leadership on cultural practices and protocols and shares Larrakia culture, lore and language,” Professor Bolt said.
“Aunty B’s position is part of a range of commitments CDU have made to formally acknowledge the Larrakia people as the Traditional Owners of the land on which Casuarina campus stands.”
Ms Lee is the Australian Aboriginal representative on the International Indigenous Grandmothers Council, who are recognised as the wisdom keepers of the world of ancient sacred knowledge.
The NAIDOC Male Elder of the Year was Pirrawayingi (Marius) Puruntatameri. CDU’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Scott Bowman AO, presented the award for Scholar of the Year, which went to CDU Bachelor of Social Work student Nancy Doolah.
Aunty B’s award was sponsored by local Indigenous company Cross Cultural Consultants and the Scholar of the Year award was sponsored by CDU.