Our People to Live Stronger & Longer


NAIDOC Week portrait Series 2020

Celebrating the skills, strength and diversity of Aboriginal people working in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Healthcare Sector

The AH&MRC NAIDOC Portrait Series celebrates the outstanding career and community contributions nominees have made to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in New South Wales.

The Series showcases the various, skills, achievements and diversity of Aboriginal People from Elders to youth, healthcare professionals to the important role Community Members provide to deliver holistic and culturally safe healthcare.

Steven Taylor

“This years theme ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ says it all. The Country always was and always will be Aboriginal land.

Our connection to Country, water and sky have never been lost. Thanks to our Elders, the fire keeps burning within us all.”

Reason for nomination:

Steven Taylor is an Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Worker at Weigelli Residential Rehabilitation Centre. Steven has been working in AOD for nearly 10 years, supporting Aboriginal people, their families and Communities to reduce the impacts of substance misuse.

By highlighting the importance of Aboriginal culture and lifestyle (both traditional and contemporary), Steve uses a holistic approach to help clients maintain positive lifestyle changes. He works one on one with clients in care planning, social and emotional wellbeing and AOD education to prevent clients from relapsing.

His invaluable experience and wealth of knowledge aid him in delivering counselling and improving outcomes for Aboriginal people in recovery. Steven has volunteered to be a coach and mentor to others, providing his extensive insight into Aboriginal dance and culture. Steven hosts free dance lessons for the Community to sustain crucial links to Country and culture. This gives our youth a sense of belonging, identity and purpose.

Melanie Briggs

“Always Was Always Will Be. My bloodline connects me to my children, my family, my country and my ancestors.  This line can never be broken and never be taken from me or my children, for the blood of my ancestors flows through our veins. The truth is we were always here, wandering this land for thousands of years.  Even though science has proven it, we can actually feel it. It’s a power beyond this world that can only be felt by our people.

Our connection goes deeper than the physical world, it lies deep within the spirit of ancestors before us. They guide us into the future and give us a purpose. Keeping true to our ancestors, we will always care for country to ensure our future generations will thrive and grow to be strong, resilient and to keep the bloodlines going for thousands of more years.

We are here, we always have been here and we always will be here – subconsciously connected to each other and the land. Each and every Aboriginal person holds a sense of knowing and belonging to one another and to country. Our connection can never be broken. 🖤💛❤️  – Always Was Always Will Be”

Reason for nomination

Melanie Briggs was nominated for the NAIDOC Week Portrait Series because of her amazing work as Midwife at Waminda and leading role on Birthing on Country; a project which integrates traditional birthing and modern midwifery practices.

Melanie has worked tirelessly to advocate for, support and raise funds for the Birthing on Country project providing Aboriginal women with a culturally safe place to give birth.

Her significant work toward closing the gap in Aboriginal and infant mortality for Aboriginal and Torres Trait People in NSW should be acknowledged and celebrated.

Phillip Naden

“As a young 47-year-old man, yet to hit the milestone of Eldership, I reflect on two times in my life that feel worlds apart; my youth and now.

Always was Always will be were not words I heard as a young person, but as time goes on and my living status, memory and tradition changes, so have our conversations.

As a young man I grew up not fully understanding the true impact of who we are as people because our lives, through colonisation and policy, were controlled to a point whereby we were taught to think a certain way and put behind us the history of our ancestors (read more).’

Reason for nomination:

Phillip Naden has done remarkable work in improving the health and outcomes of Aboriginal people and the Communities he services in his role as CEO of both Coonamble and Dubbo AMS. Phillip is well-respected in his Community, being elected as CEO of Aboriginal Legal Services NSW in 2012.

He is committed to enhancing the health care services provided to Aboriginal people in NSW. As Chairperson of the Board at AH&MRC, he has worked tirelessly to unify the Aboriginal Community Controlled Healthcare Organisations across NSW.

Phillip should be recognised for his pivotal role in implementing AH&MRC’s regional service delivery model; a model aimed at improving Aboriginal peoples accessibility to comprehensive healthcare services in NSW.

Donna Taylor

“Yaama, my name is Donna Taylor and I am a strong Gomeroi Yinaar from Moree. I have dedicated most of my life to the ACCHO Sector, commencing work for Pius X Aboriginal Corporation as a Trainee Bookkeeper in 1987, and eventually becoming Chief Executive Officer in 2004.

To me, “Always Was Always Will Be” means that our people were the first to walk on this continent and maintain connections to our culture and spirituality to this day, whether those connections are to the land or sea. We have been here from when time began and will be here well into the future.”

Reason for nomination:

Donna has been an inspirational leader in her Community for over 16 years. She has done this by advocating for funding and projects in Moree that enable Community to reclaim their culture.

Donna has supported the Community in sorry business time by providing resources for mourning families and advocating for services to support social and emotional well-being and healing.

In her role as CEO of Pius X, Donna has supported many services including outreach medical/nursing/health worker clinics to Toomelah and Mungindi to address the health needs of the Community, including the provision of medical, dental and visiting specialists.

Uncle Terence Donovan

“As a proud Gumbayngirr and Biripi man I am spiritually and culturally connected to this country.

My ancestors have cared for it, from the time of creation and I have lived my culture every day.

Aboriginal culture is a way of living within the environment you are born into. A learned way of surviving within the environment, an environment that our people have carved from the land. Mother Earth.

Learning to live in harmony with the animals, the birds, the land and the seas. Respecting the people and all that live on this earth.

We remain the oldest continuing culture on the planet as we acknowledge that our sovereignty was never ceded.”

Reason For Nomination

As a valued Elder and also a member of the Aboriginal Health and Ageing Program at NeuRA, Terry has become a most valued advocate for Aboriginal people living with dementia.

He participates in research programs gathering stories around dementia in his Community whilst also supporting people living with dementia with the appropriate resources and information to enhance their quality of life.

Terry has made remarkable contributions to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people, and their Communities.

Marley Morgan

“NAIDOC to me is about community and coming together to celebrate black excellence, language, connection to Country, cultural identity and our 65,000 plus years of survival.

It’s a chance for Australians of all walks of life to come together to learn and celebrate the world’s oldest living continuous culture.”

About the photographer:

Marley Morgan is a proud descendant of the Wiradjuri and Yuwaalaraay nations.

She is the matriarch and mother to two wild boys and partner to a handsome First Nation man named Josh.

Marley is based in Coffs Harbour on the Mid North Coast and can often be found photographing barefoot, climbing trees or getting muddy to get the perfect capture.

She is a passionate believer in keeping culture alive through learning from it, growing through it and passing it on to our next generation.

To see more of Marley’s work, or get in contact for photography visit her website, Barefoot Wandering Photography.