KATH Withers did not have any formal education.
As a young girl she grew up in the infamous Wiradjuri Reserve, also known as the Tin Tip.
Today she is a high respected Wiradjuri elder who received the Lifetime Achievement award at the recently reinstated NAIDOC awards.
“I’d never been to an awards night before,” Aunty Kath said.
Aunty Kath has been a stalwart in both the Wiradjuri and wider communities.
She has fostered more than 100 children and raised her own grandchildren since they were babies.
NAIDOC chairman Des Smith said Aunty Kath has been a foster carer since her early 20s.
“It’s for this reason that she was selected,” Mr Smith said.
Aunty Kath set up the Colourful Dreaming project five years ago – this project ensures inmates in Junee Correctional Centre continue to build meaningful relationships with their children, this is done through art.
“Kids are often the innocent victims of their parents crime,” Aunty Kath said.
“(When their parents go to prison) little one are frightened and they do not know if they will see their parents.
“I have great empathy for these children.”
Aunty Kath said her greatest achievement was caring for her grandchildren.
“I’m sure there are many people more worthy of this award than I,” she said.
For a woman who did not go to primary school, Aunty Kath is a major educational success story.
She is currently completing an arts degree at Melbourne’s Monash University.
Mr Smith commended Aunty Kath.
“When we were nominating people for the awards there was a lot of trial and error, but I believe we awarded the right people,” Mr Smith said.
“It is terribly important to recgonised people who have made an enormous contribution to the community,” he said.
Community Person of the Year:
Caring for Country Award:
Young Person of the Year:
Sportsperson of the Year:
Lifetime Achievement Award: Kath Withers