Moree’s Matthew Priestley has been announced as a Finalist in the icare Connecting Communities Award.
Matthew is a proud Mehi Murri man and senior leader at Moree East Public School where he creates and conducts Indigenous Language and Culture classes.
Matthew is on several Aboriginal education committees and groups and is chair of the Language Culture Nest.
The local man works with elders, young people, community leaders and service providers to ensure programs are relevant, engaging and appropriate to the needs of the community and local people.
As a finalist, Matthew has been invited to an awards gala presentation dinner at Orange on November 16.
All finalists also go into the People’s Choice Award, which is run through the Facebook: ‘NSW/ACT Regional Achievement and Community Awards’.
“In the past few years I have known Matthew, his knowledge and passion is unparalleled. His knowledge seems to be a walking encyclopedia, and he is always willing to share the knowledge he has,” Mr Priestley’s nominator said.
“Matthew’s skills are exemplary.
“He is one of the friendliest people I know and he always arrives with a smile on his face and a happy greeting to whoever he meets.”
Ms Hope praised Mr Priestley’s commitment to educating colleagues, committee members and students. She said he worked to create important social and cultural dialogue with people in remote communities through charitable organisations like Desert Pea Media.
“Our Original Nations People continue to suffer huge disadvantages, both culturally and socially as a direct consequence of our shameful history of racism and violence.
“Matthew is director of Desert Pea Media and has used the process of contemporary storytelling to genuinely engage and empower participants,” the nominator said.
“Since I have known Matthew, not once have I heard a negative comment about him. I am blessed to be able to speak about Matthew for the nomination of this award, the value of knowing this man is priceless. From having Matthew in all our lives we are all better people because of him.”
Mr Priestly said that he was initially surprised that he made it this far in the awards.
“When I heard someone was nominating me, I just though okay go ahead. I didn’t think about it again until now.”
Mr Priestley said he fell into the department of education as it was a tool to connect young people with their culture.
He said Moree East Public School was one of the few education centres in Australia that worked Aboriginal culture and language into the school syllabus.
“It gives balance to children who live in the urban environment and teaches them about the traditional practices in their culture. Education doesn’t just further their horizon, but gives the community a brighter future.”