Five Indigenous Aussies to celebrate for NAIDOC Week

July 07, 2014
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National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week is all about celebrating Indigenous culture in Australia, and gives us a time to rememeber the legacy of local legends like Eddie Mabo and Charles Perkins. To mark the start of NAIDOC Week on Sunday, Hijacked is taking a look at five figures dominating their fields, from the sporting pitch to the Bench.

Adam Goodes

Last weekend, Adam Goodes became the most-capped Indigenous player in the history of the AFL by notching up his 341st game. After 15 years of affiliation, Goodes’ name is synonymous with that of the Sydney Swans. While the 34 year old recently said he was unsure about his future in the game, there’s no doubt that he’s made his mark as one of AFL’s greats.

While Goodes’ sporting prowess is obvious, he’s also helped to prompt important discussions off the field, having endured racist taunts from game attendees and media commentators in the past. Goodes has used these experiences – and his position of influence as this year’s Australian of the Year – to criticise casual racism.

Matthew Myers

In 2012, Matthew Myers became the first Indigenous Australian to be appointed to a Federal Court. With a background in family law and pro bono work, Judge Myers is enthusiastic about bringing more Indigenous Aussies onto the Bench.

When he was appointed, Judge Myers noted Indigenous Aussies were “massively under represented” in the legal profession. In an interview with ABC Newcastle last year, however, he voiced optimism. “Things are changing. I think you will see, long term, a lot more people moving into roles such as mine,” he said.

Jessica Mauboy

It’s hard to believe that Jessica Mauboy’s been doing the rounds for eight years. First winning fans on Australian Idol in 2006, Mauboy’s extensive range, sunny personality and run of hit singles have endeared her to many of her compatriots.

Still only 24, Mauboy has starred in hit film The Sapphires, appeared on Sesame Street, and this year represented Australia at Eurovision in Denmark. Her material traverses everything from soul to electro pop, meaning that there’s something in her catalogue for everyone (assuming you’re not an annoying commerical music snob).

Mauboy achieves the rare feat of being glamorous and relatable at the same time, and when Brisbane hosts the Commonwealth Games in 2018, it seems a safe bet that The Maubster (yes, really) will be an important part of proceedings. Our Jess has earned the prefix.

Samantha Harris

If Jessica Mauboy is the sweet girl next door, then Samantha Harris is the glamazon from three or four suburbs away.

We could describe each of Samantha's beautiful facial features in microscopic detail, but it’d probably be a bit creepy. Suffice to say that she’s completely stunning, having earned her place alongside Megan Gale and Miranda Kerr as a David Jones ambassador. Harris has also appeared on the cover of Vogue. No biggie.

Darlene Johnson

When Darlene Johnson premiered her documentary The Redfern Story as part of the Sydney Film Festival last month, she told Hijacked that it was important for her to document the achievements of people behind the National Black Theatre in the 70s. “They were at the coal face of so much change, and they were on the firing line every day,” she said.

Johnson’s efforts perfectly represent the spirit of NAIDOC Week by recognising previous generations of Indigenous Australians while also celebrating and fostering talents today.

John Rowley

Image: Jessica Mauboy's Facebook