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The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
20 October 2006
One of Australia's leading Indigenous women, Uluru's Barbara Tjikatu, will today receive one of the nation's highest honours: Member of the Order of Australia.
Northern Territory Administrator, His Honour, Mr Ted Egan AO, will present Mrs Tjikatu with her award at a ceremony at the Andy McNeill Room, Alice Springs Town Council, at 5.30pm.
Barbara Tjikatu will be honoured "For service to the Indigenous community of the Northern Territory as an Anangu Elder, and in the preservation and management of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park."
The Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park, Greg Hunt, said the award recognised Mrs Tjikatu's groundbreaking efforts over three decades.
"Barbara Tjikatu is almost unknown outside Uluru, yet this quiet achiever has led the way in Aboriginal cultural protection, Indigenous business and the joint management of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park," Mr Hunt said
Barbara Tjikatu, now a senior Anangu woman, was born in Central Australia's Western Desert to a nomadic family. In her youth, she walked from place to place in the desert region around Uluru, visiting her family's traditional lands and hunting and gathering.
"Barbara returned to Uluru in the early 1970s with her husband Nipper, drawn by the desire to take part in traditional ceremony and to begin efforts to gain traditional ownership of Uluru - Kata Tjuta," Mr Hunt said.
"With the handback of land to traditional owners in 1985, Barbara helped set up the park's historic joint management arrangements and she's been a tireless Board member almost ever since."
"Since 1985, Barbara Tjikatu has worked in almost every aspect of the park: as a manual labourer, as the prime mover behind the establishment of the Cultural Centre and three park businesses and as a negotiator with Australian Government and Northern Territory ministers.
"Her formidable tracking skills are now employed in monitoring the park's wildlife and feral animals, and she is an invaluable advisor to the park's scientific staff.
"Perhaps Barbara's proudest achievement is her protection of Aboriginal culture and her commitment to passing it on to young Anangu women. Now in her 80s, Barbara still works with park staff, tour guides and visitors to explain the cultural heritage that is central to Aboriginal life in the desert," Mr Hunt said.
John Deller (Mr Hunt's office) on 0400 496 596