NOMINEES for the 2022 NSW Australian of the Year Awards have been announced and Nambucca Heads resident June Riemer is among their ranks.
For the last 40 years the Gumbaynggirr-Dunghutti woman has advocated for Aboriginal people and those living with a disability.
Her efforts have changed many lives, but the current Deputy CEO of First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) insists it's "all in a day's work".
"I'm excited and honoured to be a nominee for the Australian of the Year Awards, but it's just our work; at the FPDN we are collectively passionate about what we do," she said.
"We speak on behalf of those who can't, people who might not have a platform to have their voices heard.
"The elders of the past helped open doors so I could get opportunities they didn't have access to.
"I hope that's what I can do, help the next generation get opportunities that I didn't get growing up.
"Both my mother and my grandmother were strong women, along with all my aunties. They didn't get to have their voices heard in a lot of circumstances so, for me, I am their voice also."
An accomplished speaker, 63 year old June is respected for telling it like it is and her work and travel within Australia's Aboriginal communities, particularly in rural and remote areas.
She also advocates heavily to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don't get left behind and have culturally appropriate access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
"The work has always been fighting for those who don't know how to navigate systems that were never built for them, and more importantly, in the last 10 to 15 years, strong advocacy for those with a disability across our country," June said.
"When I was growing up, I had family members with a disability; I saw first hand how hard it was for them to access support and services.
"Disability is a lifelong condition, and most people with a disability just want to be treated like those without a disability; they want all the same opportunities with no discrimination or judgment."
June's vision and leadership have helped FPDN become a national organisation that's making a difference.
As the peak body for First Nations people, FPDN was a vital force in advocating for the establishment of the Royal Commission so that the voices of First Nations people with disabilities are heard.
"I've been working with the FPDN for 11 years now, but the organisation has just recently hit 20 years of operation," June said.
"It's truly remarkable how far the organisation has come, especially considering for the first ten years, there was very little funding; it was all volunteer run."
June will join the other Nominees for the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards at a ceremony on November 15 2021 at Luna Park, Sydney, which will also be available to watch online via Livestream.
The winners will then join the other state and territory recipients as national finalists for the announcement of the national awards on January 25, 2022.
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