Honour for valued elder
A Port Hedland woman was recently honoured by the army at a special event in front of hundreds of children.
The Pilbara Regiment awarded Yindjibarndi and Ngarluma elder Maureen Kelly the Army Indigenous Coin in recognition of her years of support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
The presentation was held at South Hedland Primary School during its NAIDOC Week opening ceremony.
Mrs Kelly has devoted her life to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and is no stranger to recognition, being awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2014 for service to indigenous communities in WA.
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Pilbara Regiment Major Guy Warnock said the presentation showed recognition and support towards indigenous people serving in the army.
“I was proud to be able to present the Army Indigenous Coin to Maureen in the presence of one of our Aboriginal soldiers, Sgt Ron Walker, during the South Hedland Primary School NAIDOC week celebrations,” he said.
Major Walker said Maureen had been a tireless supporter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over many years.
“She has been an advocate for what the Pilbara Regiment does in the Pilbara region and in particular here on Karriyarra country,” he said
Mrs Kelly said she was floored to be given the award, and it was fitting that it was at South Hedland Primary School where her son went to school.
Mrs Kelly said she had a relationship with the Pilbara Regiment for 15 years, that began when she was working with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
“Whenever they wanted advice they would ring me, and I would provide them with guidance, and I think they see me as a mentor, I encouraged people to be a part of them,” she said.
Ms Kelly said her family was brought up to always give to others and not to look for recognition.
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