Uncle Gerald Brown was delighted to be named male elder of the year at the Illawarra Regional NAIDOC Awards held in Kiama on Tuesday night.
However, the Barrack Heights elder was just as pleased that the Illawarra Koori Men's Support Group, where he is president, was crowned organisation of the year.
The Illawarra's NAIDOC Week celebrations came to an end on Saturday night at the awards ceremony at The Pavilion, Kiama.
Now in their fifth year, the awards honour significant achievements made by Aboriginal people and organisations throughout the Kiama, Shoalhaven, Shellharbour and Wollongong Local Government Areas.
The support group, based at historic Yovelton House at Albion Park Rail, is a non-profit Aboriginal community organisation initiated and directed by Aboriginal men that provided a range of programs and activities for Koori men and youth.
At Saturday's presentation Uncle Gerald was described "as a natural leader" and his leadership style is one that "is inclusive, engaging, and is done in a quieter, humble and respectful way ... a style is the one most likely to lead to sustainable improvements in the community".
He is also a representative on multiple committees and boards and participates in numerous forums and conferences.
Uncle Gerald said it was important for elders to use their time to give to their community.
"I'm really pleased with what we are doing with the young guys ... when I say mentoring for some it works, for some it doesn't, but it is worth it," he said.
The awards were important to showcase Aboriginal achievements in the community, he said.
- Worker of the Year – Hayley Longbottom
- Young Achiever of the Year Female – Jazmine Tikkeros
- Young Achiever of the Year Male – Geoffrey Junior Maher
- Organisation of the Year – Koori Men’s Support Group
- Outstanding Contribution to Reconciliation – Uncle Fred Moore
- Elder of the Year Female – Aunty Patricia Lester
- Elder of the Year Male – Uncle Gerald Brown