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Local teacher and Elder recognised at Aboriginal education awards

A local teacher and an Aboriginal Elder have been celebrated for their commitment to Aboriginal education in NSW public schools at the 17th Nanga Mai Awards.

The awards are presented by the NSW Department of Education and recognise students, school staff and Elders who have made significant contributions in their communities. Nanga Mai is an Eora (Sydney) word “to dream”.

The teacher and Elder are among seven dedicated public school staff members and six community leaders and schools recognised at the award ceremony held on November 30 at Sydney Opera House. They joined 30 academically successful students, confident public speakers, talented performing artists, outstanding sportspeople and student leaders to win an award this year.

  • Uncle Terry Denzil received the Outstanding Contribution to Educational Achievement by an Aboriginal Community Member Award for his work at Alexandria Park Community School (ACPS).
  • Bryce Walker is a teacher at Glebe Public School. He received the Outstanding Contribution to Educational Achievement by a non-Aboriginal Staff Member Award.

When Cleveland Street High School, Redfern, Waterloo, and Alexandria Public Schools were closed, Uncle Terry Denzil was the lead spokesperson who argued with the NSW Government for the need for a school in the local area. As a result of his voice and leadership, APCS was created. After community-wide consultation, recognition and honour was given to Uncle Terry when the school gymnasium was named after him. Uncle Terry inspired the architects to design a school that pays respect to the Cadigal people and the traditional lands.

Uncle Terry has been the driving force to introduce the Gomberee into the school. Uncle Terry sought knowledge and permission from Cadigal man Shayne Beckham to work with the school leadership team to name school buildings and significant spaces in the Gomberee language and introduced Gomberee language lessons into school programs.

During his 18 years at Glebe Public School, Bryce Walker has prioritised making and nurturing relationships with Aboriginal students and their families. He advocates fiercely for the school and for the Aboriginal students and families at the school when meeting with representatives and system leaders from the NSW Department of Education. He also supports, values and advocates for programs and initiatives that celebrate Aboriginal cultures and identities (Jarjums, NAIDOC Day celebrations) and support the wellbeing and success of Aboriginal students (Breakfast Club) and the workforce development of his families through supporting the Winanggaay Program.

Bryce genuinely wants to put the Aboriginal Education Policy into action and by this, he seeks advice from Aboriginal colleagues when responding to situations that require sensitivity and insight to ensure students and their families are supported in culturally safe and respectful ways. He understands and focuses on building collective staff understanding of Aboriginal perspectives and cross-curricular priorities and has high expectations for the way Aboriginal students are supported at school and what they will achieve. Bryce has previously been recognised for his commitment to Aboriginal Education by receiving a Deadly Kids Award.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the Nanga Mai Awards celebrate schools that have established a culture of respect, caring and inclusive teaching practices that recognise, value and meet the diverse needs of Aboriginal students.

“Nanga Mai is an Eora word for ‘to dream’ and these awards embrace the diversity of all the schools and supporters who champion our students so they can follow their dreams,” Ms Mitchell said.

“We are also honouring the Elders and Aboriginal school staff and community members who bring language, culture and wisdom into our schools.”

NSW Department of Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson paid tribute to the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc, which today received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Aboriginal Education as the Nanga Mai Awards recognised the 40th anniversary of the NSW Aboriginal Education Policy in public schools.

“The AECG continues to lead the way, supporting Aboriginal students, families and communities through a range of academic and cultural initiatives and programs that uphold the commitments of the Aboriginal Education Policy,” Ms Harrisson said.

The 17th Annual Nanga Mai Awards are supported by: The NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated, Aboriginal Education Council, Hicksons Lawyers, UNSW, Teachers Health, RPS Group, 3Bridges Community, CQUniversity Australia, Daracon Group, Holding Redlich, Learning Links, Bendelta, MinterEllison, Harmers Workplace Lawyers, RD Facilities Management, Australian National Maritime Museum and Sydney Jewish Museum.


For more information about the award winners visit the Nanga Mai website


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