Land rights activist is NT's Aust of Year

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A Mayili man who has been instrumental in securing sea country rights in Arnhem Land for traditional owners has been named the NT Australian of the Year. 


Samuel Bush-Blanasi, chair of the Northern Land Council, and three others were celebrated at the Darwin Convention Centre on Monday night. 

The four NT recipients will join those from the other states and territories for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2023.

The 60-year-old has worked for decades at local and national levels to empower Indigenous Australians. 

As chair and deputy chair of the Northern Land Council, he has been instrumental in securing sea country rights in Arnhem Land for traditional owners, and the incorporation in 2022 of the Aboriginal Sea Company (ASC).

The ASC is the first of its kind and will enable traditional owners to oversee commercial fishing, aquacultureand other fishing-related activities along the Arnhem Land coastline.

It will provide employment and enable Aboriginal people to manage profitable and sustainable fishing.

Samuel has also supported native title claims, recently overseeing the historic hand-back of the remaining half of Kakadu National Park to 14 clan estate groups.

Nationally, he's pushed for reform of the Australian Constitution, joining forces with Indigenous leaders to host dialogue and develop the historic Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Suicide prevention campaigner Bernard Tipiloura is the 2023 NT Senior Australian of the Year.

The 2023 NT Young Australian of the Year is First Nations community leader, Jahdai Vigona.

Social worker and founder of Two Two One Mental Health Charity, Sacha King, is the 2023 NT Local Hero.

National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the award recipients from the NorthernTerritory.

"The NT award recipients are exceptional individuals committed to creating better futures - for their country, for community and for people," Ms Brand said.

"We look forward to welcoming them to Canberra for the national Australian of the Year Awards to be announced on 25 January 2023."

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