Laurie Baymarrwangga - Senior Australian of the Year 2012
Congratulations to Laurie Baymarrwangga, indigenous community leader from north east Arnhem Land who has won the Senior Australian of the Year 2012 Award.
Laurie Baymarrwangga, aged 93, has worked tirelessly to save and pass on the priceless gifts of her culture – language, songs and customs as well as knowledge of countless generations of intimate coexistence with the sea.
As the awards recognise, we must support nation building leaders like her who work to save Australia’s unique languages and culture, champion the deep knowledge of country, give courage and conviction to those who live on their homelands and struggle against immense hardship.
Joe Morrison, CEO NAILSMA
Her crusade to maintain and build Indigenous knowledge began in the 1960s with the creation of a homeland and bilingual school under a tree on Murrungga, largest of the outer Crocodile Islands off the Arnhem Land coast. In 1994 she began the Yan-nhangu dictionary project to document her language, of which she is one of the last speakers.
More recently she initiated the Crocodile Islands Rangers program, with her own savings. The volunteer rangers pass on the skills of cultural and natural resource management to junior rangers and provide bio-security, ghost net retrieval, and coastal rescue and surveillance.
Mr Morrison, CEO of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) today said that Laurie Baymarrwangga was a true crusader for the environment, Indigenous culture and the nation itself.