RECOGNISING the valuable leadership role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women continue to play at the community, local, state and national levels is the theme of this year's NAIDOC Week from July 8-15.
This year's theme is Because of Her, We Can and local Arakwal woman Delta Kay spoke lovingly of her trailblazing Auntie Dulcie Nicholls, who along with sisters Lorna Kelly, Linda Vidler and Yvonne Graham, began their Native Title rights claim on behalf of the Arakwal people in 1994.
"This is really exciting NAIDOC theme for Arakwal people because we can celebrate the achievements of our four Elders who fought to protect their traditional homelands near Tallow Creek,” Ms Kay said.
"Our Native Title claim has been partially resolved through ILUA 1 that includes the gazetting and joint-management of Arakwal National Park.
"This historic agreement provides employment and training for our people and is used for a model for other Native Title claims.
"In 2007 they signed ILUA 2 and 3, which included other protected areas to come under our joint-management.
"The incredible hardships our Elders overcame to protect Country has resulted in two International awards in 2003 and 2014 from the World Conservation Union, IUCN.
"Arakwal Dolphin Dreaming has multiple tourism awards - this program was created by Arakwal woman Yvonne Stewart and is loved by local children and schools.”
During NAIDOC Week we invite community to attend and celebrate with Aboriginal people to support a strong, vibrant and culturally rich Byron Shire.
Ms Kay also said she was proud of the next generation of Arakwal women such as her nieces Kaitlyn and Nicolla Clark.
"They are continuing the tradition by being inspiring female role models and becoming strong Arakwal leaders for our youth.”