NAIDOC week celebrations have begun in Naarm (Melbourne) with the holding of the 2022 national NAIDOC week awards ceremony at the city’s convention and exhibition centre.

Ten awards were presented over the course of the evening to recognise and showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence and acknowledge efforts made by Indigenous Australians to improve the lives of people in their communities.

There were four new award categories for 2022 focusing on creative talent, caring for country and culture, education and innovation.


Lowell Hunter was the recipient of the inaugural NAIDOC creative talent awards. 

Original from Western Australia’s Kimberley region, the Nyul Nyul man was acknowledged for his artworks created by dancing on sand and capturing the result through drone photography. 

Uncle Jack Charles.

Mr Hunter also teaches fellow dancers how to create art and delivers cultural strengthening programs in schools and on Country.

The NAIDOC caring for country and culture award was won by Ngarrindjeri man Walter Jackson. 

As chief executive of Ngopamuldi Aboriginal Corporation, Mr Jackson has been an advocate for First Nations employment in water management and land-care projects in South Australia.

Through his role, Mr Jackson has also improved the wellbeing of Country by promoting cultural, environmental and spiritual knowledge handed down by Traditional Owners.

Professor Bronwyn Fredericks’ long-time contribution to education was acknowledged with the NAIDOC education award.

The central Queensland-based woman has spent more than 30 years working directly with organisations to improve education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially in regional and remote communities.

Buddy Franklin. Photo via Fox Footy’s Facebook page.

Ms Fredericks has also lead the University of Queensland’s implementation of it’s Indigenous strategy to promote Indigenous engagement.

The University of Queensland has also developed it’s first reconciliation action plan under Professor Fredericks’ leadership.

Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Ash Barty was bestowed the highest honour of the night, being named the NAIDOC person of the year.

Barty, who retired following this year’s Australian Open triumph, was chosen for her achievements on court and efforts to encourage Indigenous participation in sport and education.

Among the 1400 attendees on the night were government ministers, First Nations leaders and celebrities, board and committee members of various First Nations organisations and Aboriginal community representatives.

Attendees were entertained by both traditional and contemporary First Nations performers such as singer-songwriter Jess Hitchcock alongside ballet dancer Evie Ferris, violinist Eric Avery Mumbulla, hip-hop artist Mau Power and vocalist Emma Donovan alongside Melbourne rhythm combo The Putbacks.

The gala black-tie event was jointly hosted by television presenter Shelley Ware and comedian Steven Oliver.

2022 National NAIDOC award recipients 

National NAIDOC Person Award: Ash Barty

National NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement: Stanley Grant Snr

National NAIDOC Female Elder Award: Lois Peeler

National NAIDOC Male Elder: Uncle Jack Charles

National NAIDOC Sportsperson: Buddy Franklin

National NAIDOC Youth Award: Elijah Manis

National NAIDOC Creative Talent Award: Lowell Hunter

National NAIDOC Caring for Country and Culture Award: Walter Jackson

National NAIDOC Education: Professor Bronwyn Fredericks

National NAIDOC Innovation Award: The Koori Mail newspaper