The Aurukun community is celebrating after five local residents were awarded prestigious Medals of the Order of Australia (OAMs) on Australia Day for their ‘services to the Indigenous community of Cape York Peninsula’.
Three Aurukun Shire Council councillors – Cr Ada Woolla, Cr Edgar Kerindun and Cr Vera Koomeeta – received OAMs, as did Doris Poonkameyla and Sarah Wolmby.
Aurukun Shire Council Mayor Dereck Walpo said the OAMs were special recognition for not only the recipients, but for the community of Aurukun in general.
“We are so proud of our five new OAMs, and their awards are thoroughly deserved,” said Mayor Walpo.
“We were thrilled to find out their immense work in improving the lives of our community members has been recognised.
“We are a small community, so to see so many local residents receiving an OAM this year is quite incredible.
“We’re passionate about making our community the best it can possibly be, and I think these awards are another reflection of that.
“On behalf of all Aurukun residents, I’d like to offer our congratulations to all five recipients on their special achievement.”
Edgar Kerindun is a member of the Sara clan and is a respected Elder in Aurukun.
A councillor since 2012, Cr Kerindun is also a local commissioner for the Family Responsibilities Commission, a foster and kinship carer, and a volunteer at the local school – the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy.
Vera Koomeeta is a member of the Apalech clan and a respected Elder in the community.
Cr Koomeeta has also been an Aurukun councillor since 2012 and a local commissioner for the Family Responsibilities Commission since 2008.
She is a founding member of the Aurukun Community Justice Group and a Justice of the Peace, while also a registered interpreter in Wik language for the local magistrates court and Centrelink.
Ada Woolla – a member of the Winchanum clan – is the third Aurukun Shire Council councillor to receive an OAM, and is a local commissioner for the Family Responsibilities Commission.
A respected mediator and community Elder, Cr Woolla is also a carer for the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, and a foster and kinship carer.
She is currently a board member for the Aurukun Women’s Shelter, a director since 2011 at Aak Puul Ngantum Cape York Board, a treasurer at Aurukun Church, and a founding member of the Aurukun Community Justice Group.
Cr Woolla is also a member of the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland, established by the Premier of Queensland and chaired by the Honourable Quentin Bryce AD CVO, former Governor-General of Australia.
Cr Woolla’s other roles range from school attendance officer and community police officer, to Wik translator and bank cashier.
Doris Poonkameyla, a local commissioner for the Family Responsibilities Commission since 2008, is also a founding member of the Aurukun Community Justice Group and a registered interpreter for Wik language.
She is a board member at Apunipima Cape York Health Council and from 1982-2011 worked as a health worker for Queensland Health.
Sarah Wolmby is a current Church Elder and a member of the Aboriginal Corporation of West Coast Cape York Peninsula Traditional Owners.
A volunteer at the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy, Ms Wolmby worked as a health worker for Queensland Health from 2002-2008, and is a local commissioner for the Family Responsibilities Commission.
For more details about the Australia Day awards, visit www.itsanhonour.gov.au