Celebrating strength, pride and achievement of First Nations artists at National Indigenous Arts Awards

Australia Council Jacob BoehmeThe Australia Council for the Arts have celebrated the contribution of First Nations artists at the 12th National Indigenous Arts Awards, presented last night at the Sydney Opera House.

Respected elders actor Uncle Jack Charles and Pakana shell artist Aunty Lola Greeno were honoured with the prestigious Red Ochre Awards for Lifetime Achievement. They were joined by visual artist Jenna Lee, who received the Dreaming Award for a young and emerging artist, and theatre maker Jacob Boehme who is the recipient of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Fellowship.

The National Indigenous Arts Awards (NIAA) recognise the centrality of First Nations artists to Australian culture. They celebrate the significant contribution of First Nations artists to the vibrancy of Australian arts. The event is held on 27 May each year to coincide with the anniversary of the 1967 referendum.

“On this auspicious date, it is significant that we are supporting and celebrating our First Nations artists at important stages in their careers,” said Australia Council Deputy Chair Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin. “There is a profound sense of cultural strength as we acknowledge these artists from across the generations, from emerging to mid-career, to some our most celebrated and acclaimed elders.”

First Nations artists have also received extensive acknowledgement in the Australia Council Awards and the Australia Council Fellowships this year. At the NIAA event, these artists were also acknowledged. Fellowship recipients Vernon Ah Kee (visual art) and Ali Cobby Eckerman (literature) were joined onstage by three more outstanding First Nations artists, who received Australia Council Awards earlier this year – Rachael Maza, Rhoda Roberts and Vicki Van Hout.

Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette said this was a significant moment to reflect on the achievements of First Nations artists. “It will be a proud moment when we see these nine extraordinary artists on stage being honoured for their achievements across multiple artforms. It’s a powerful demonstration of the centrality of First Nations arts in Australia’s cultural fabric,” he said.

For more information about the National Indigenous Arts Awards, visit: www.australiacouncil.gov.au for details.

Image: Jacob Boehme (supplied)


Red Ochre Award (for outstanding lifetime achievement)
Uncle Jack Charles (VIC)
Aunty Lola Greeno (TAS)

The Dreaming Award (for an emerging artist aged 18-26 years)
Jenna Lee (ACT)

Australia Council Fellowship (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts)
Jacob Boehme (VIC)

Australia Council Award (previously announced)
Rhoda Roberts (Ros Bower Award for Community Arts and Cultural Development)
Rachael Maza (Theatre)
Vicki Van Hout(Dance)

Fellowship Recipients (previously announced)
Vernon Ah Kee (Visual Arts)
Ali CobbyEckerman (Literature)