Influential community leaders recognised

Joint winners have been awarded the Premier’s NAIDOC Award for outstanding community achievements.

Part of NAIDOC Week (3-10 July) celebrations, Jeffrey Newchurch and Kunyi June Anne McInerney were recognised for significant achievements in improving the lives of Aboriginal people in South Australia.

With 2022 marking its fourteenth iteration, the Premier’s NAIDOC Award, this year’s recipients join a prestigious list of winners including Major ‘Moogy’ Sumner AM, Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien AO, Joyleen Thomas PSM, Wendy Edmondson and Josie Agius.

Mr Newchurch, a Narrunga/Kaurna man, currently holds a number of influential community positions, including being a member of the Kaurna Cultural Heritage Advisory Group at the City of Holdfast Bay, an advisors at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Women’s and Children’s Hospital and a member of the City of Adelaide Reconciliation Committee. He is also a mentor to many young Aboriginal people.

He was instrumental to the success of Puti on Kaurna Yerta (Bush on Kaurna Land). His leadership and direction were as instrumental in ensuring that the project was modelled on Aboriginal ideals and services were fit for purpose for community members.

Ms McInerney, a Yankunytjatjara woman, is a qualified nurse, midwife and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Aboriginal Studies at the University of South Australia.

A respected and admired artist, Ms McInerny addresses concepts such as healing and reconciliation, and produces vibrant works that depict the unique landscape of our country.

An extraordinary collection of over 70 pieces of art and stories by Ms McInerny was published and later exhibited at the Migration Museum titled My Paintings Speak for Me. The exhibition travelled across South Australia, educating and reaching the hearts and minds of many.

Ms McInerny now has three children of her own and has also fostered or provided respite to more than 40 Aboriginal children, giving them a loving secure space to grow and thrive. She is a quiet achiever with an enormous legacy.

Other finalists for the Premier’s NAIDOC Award included Dre Ngatokorua, and Mona Olsson.

In addition to the Premier’s NAIDOC Award – the Dr Alice Rigney Prize – an award signifying remarkable young Aboriginal men and women dedicated to their education, was awarded to Peyton Aspel.

A Year 12 student of Avenues College, Peyton is an active participant in cultural programs at school and is also a talented sportswoman part of the SAASTA elite Netball Academy.

The awards were presented at a ceremony today at the Adelaide Convention Centre as part of NAIDOC Week celebrations.


Attributable to Peter Malinauskas

I commend both Jeffrey and Kunyi for what they have achieved, in speaking up, sharing their cultural knowledge and driving awareness and change. Their voices will continue to be heard.

They are extraordinary South Australians and worthy recipients of the Premier’s NAIDOC Award.

Attributable to Kyam Maher

The theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations is ‘Get up! Stand up! and Show up!’ and Jeffrey and Kunyi have done just that, in their efforts to improve the lives of Aboriginal South Australians.

Congratulations also to Peyton Aspel for showing the kind of dedication to her schooling that will no doubt lead to a bright future.

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