UAICC’s Aunty Sue Blacklock recognised for her contribution to First Peoples
UAICC’s Aunty Sue Blacklock has been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her contribution to First Peoples.
Respected Elder of the Nucoorilma people from Tingha in NSW and part of the Gomeroi nation, Mrs Suzanne Margaret (Aunty Sue) Blacklock has been appointed to the Member (AM) of the Order of Australia. She received the award for her significant service to the Aboriginal community through advocacy roles for improved child welfare, kinship care and cultural identity.
Aunty Sue has been a faithful supporter over many years of the Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress (UAICC). Part of the Uniting Church in Australia, the UAICC is called to minister to its own people, as well as to help Aboriginal and Islander people achieve spiritual, economic, social and cultural independence.
Aunty Sue has long held the hope that, one day, ordinary Australians would acknowledge in an appropriate manner the tragic massacre of her forebears at Myall Creek (as well as the residual pain that remains with her people).
Through an initiative she led, the dream has become a reality. Since 2000, around 300-400 people have annually gathered on the June long weekend at the National Heritage-listed site of the Myall Creek Memorial (which had its genesis in Sue Blacklock’s sheer determination and commitment).
Hundreds travel to Myall Creek from across the country to remember and acknowledge the unprovoked massacre of 28 unarmed Aboriginal people, as well as Wirrayaraay women, children and old men — by white stockmen on Myall Creek Station in 1838.
She knows the importance of acknowledging the past in order for there to be healing and the possibility for her people to move forward with purpose and hope.
Aunty Sue also understands symbolic recognition is not sufficient and is equally committed to ensuring such recognition finds practical expression in improving life opportunities for her people, especially children.
A mother of eight and grandmother and great grandmother to more than 65 children, she has long worked for the wellbeing of children in her Tingha community.
In 2010, Aunty Sue broadened her vision and headed up a team of people deeply concerned about the number of Aboriginal children in Out-of-Home Care and the lack of support for many kinship carers. From this initiative has grown Winangay, a small not-for-profit Aboriginal controlled non- government organisation. Chaired by Aunty Sue, it has developed a new culturally appropriate resource tool for the assessment and support of Aboriginal kinship carers. These resources not only help carers to improve outcomes for the children they care for, but also to strengthen their sense of cultural identity.
Aunty Sue’s devotion to reducing the number of Aboriginal children and young people removed from their families and communities has been recognised before. In 2014, she was appointed by the Australian Centre for Child Protection as its first Ambassador for Children.
Based in the University of South Australia, the Centre is committed to working with Aunty Sue in improving outcomes for Aboriginal children and their families currently caught up in child protection systems. Also, Aunty Sue is very committed to her local community and has undertaken theological studies with Nungalinya College in Darwin, in order to serve the Uniting Church’s faith community at Tingha.
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