Jo-Anne Kelly has been nominated as a local hero for the Kempsey Shire Council Australia Day awards, but said the honor carries "mixed emotions".
Born and bred in the Macleay, Jo is a proud Dunghutti lady and has been put forward for her tireless work as a Project Community Initiatives Manager at Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation, supporting survivors affected by abuse, running events and bringing the community together.
"Personally I have mixed emotions, and that's why I say all the names (Australia Day/Invasion Day/Survival Day), because everyone has their own feelings and their own position on it," Jo said.
"26 of January was never Australia Day because it was never identified as Australia Day back then, historically, prior to 1994 it wasn't even a public holiday, so I don't understand why the date can't be changed."
Her family has strong ties in Kempsey, with her mother being instrumental in setting up the Aboriginal Medical Service in the area, and her father a uniting figure in the community.
"In terms of my families position, I know mum accepted an award in 2014, and she was torn as well, never supported it, but at the end of the day it is about bringing the community together, and we all have to give and take a little bit, " Jo said.
She said the main thing now is coming together for the future, and working towards telling the truth in a way that's sensitive and understood by all members of the Macleay.
"In 2036, which is less than 15 years away, is when Kempsey celebrates its bicentennial, so we need to workout where do we want our community to be sitting then," Jo said.
"Do we want Dunghutti culture to be sitting on the side and silent? Or do we want it to be part of everyday living, and if that's the case then we need to work together for the next 15 years, and I'm going to make it happen."
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