Local Aboriginal Elder recognised in NAIDOC honours
Published on 09 July 2021
Roni Forrest, a central force behind the Town of Victoria Park’s reconciliation, has been recognised in the NAIDOC Perth Awards 2021. Mrs Forrest was awarded the NAIDOC Female Elder of the Year for her outstanding contribution and support within the education sector.
“We congratulate Roni Forrest on her achievements and her passion for empowering youth, reconciliation, education, and especially for giving back to our community. This is a well-deserved recognition for her outstanding leadership,” said Mayor Karen Vernon.
Mrs Forrest was nominated by students and staff of the Danjoo Darbalung program at St Catherine’s College where she provides cultural authority and guidance. She has been a constant support for students studying at the five universities in Perth and living at the college.
“The acknowledgment within my own Aboriginal community for such an esteemed award is humbling. There is no better accolade to know you have your community behind you in the pursuit to help our people,” Mrs Forrest said.
Coming from humble beginnings as a self-described ‘bush kid’, Mrs Forrest said she has been overwhelmed with the support and love from people from all walks of life she has met on her journey since winning the award.
“I have even been contacted by my former schoolmates and teachers I have worked with and not seen for years,” she said.
Mrs Forrest is a passionate and tireless worker for reconciliation, having been instrumental in many schools and organisations’ Reconciliation Action Plans (RAP). She was one of the foundation members of the Town of Victoria Park Mindeera Advisory Group (formerly known as the Aboriginal Engagement Advisory Group) which initiated the Town’s first RAP in 2018.
“We had many challenging conversations which has led to many changes and action from the Town,” Mrs Forrest said.
As member of the Mindeera Advisory Group for more than eight years, Mrs Forrest has contributed to many of the actions within the RAP, including Noongar naming of places throughout the Town, establishment of Welcome to Country at significant events, Acknowledgement of Country at all Town meetings, and continued discussions surrounding 26 January. She is a key participant and important Elder for consultation and delivery of Town events for NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Week.