How the NAIDOC Youth Award Finalists are shaking things up for Australia
| Last updated
NAIDOC Week is a time to celebrate the culture and the achievements of First Nations people.
Every year, a lineup of incredibly talented, innovative and creative First Nations people are nominated for the NAIDOC Week Awards.
But the ones to really watch are the Youth Award Finalists – the young people set to shake things up for Australia.
This year, Gunaikurnai marine science student, Courtney Burns, was named Youth of the Year.
"NAIDOC Youth of the Year — that has a deadly ring to it, I reckon!" she said while accepting her award.
"I just wanted to thank my guide, absolutely awesome. Hearing what you have achieved is super inspiring. I just want to thank everyone who has got me to where I am today.
"This is actually gnarly. I'm going to keep it short and sweet. Thank you so much guys and for our Elders."
Here are the three NAIDOC Youth Award Finalists for 2023 and their stories:
Courtney Burns is a 25-year-old Gunaikurnai woman from South Gippsland, Victoria, who is studying Marine Science at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville, Queensland, and assisting in the shark research lab in Townsville.
Courtney’s goal is to change the way people see sharks.
"Being nominated has made me feel extremely proud of how far I've come and has motivated me to continue on the path to where I can go from here,” she told the ABC.
"NAIDOC Week gives First Nations people the ability to mourn, celebrate, educate, learn and be loud and proud.”
Brodie is a proud Wamba Wamba and Ngarrindjeri man, living in Naarm (Melbourne) on Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung and Boonwurrung Country. He is a playwright, storyteller and performance artist who is passionate about telling the stories of Victorian Aboriginal peoples’ survival.
His play ‘Soul of Possum’ debuted at the 2021 Yirramboi First Nations Arts Festival in Melbourne.
"As a playwright and performer, I see storytelling as an important way of bringing people together through truth-telling and education," he told the ABC.
Mitchell is a proud 25-year-old Aboriginal man with deep connections to the Mununjali peoples of the Yugambeh Nation, the Minyungbal peoples of the Bundjalung Nation, as well as further connections to the Gunggari peoples of southwest QLD.
In 2015, Mitchell discovered Aboriginal contemporary fusion dance in high school, igniting his passion for the performing arts.
This year, Mitchell started his own business called Nalingurrie Projects, intending to help artists to collaborate, grow and perform self-determined works. He also recently choreographed the large-scale Dreamtime pre-show performance.
You can find out more about the NAIDOC Week Awards here.