Associate Professor Daryle Rigney, Dean of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement at Flinders, has been named Person of the Year in the SA National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) awards.
The awards were combined with a flag-raising ceremony at the Adelaide Town Hall on July 14 to mark the start of NAIDOC Week.
A Ngarrindjeri man, Associate Professor Rigney’s long term work with community has developed fruitful relationships between government, universities, business and Indigenous nations, both locally and internationally, on matters of mutual benefit, including building capacity for cross cultural collaboration.
Professor Dennis McDermott, Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Well-Being at Flinders, described Associate Professor Rigney as displaying a “transparent integrity”.
“In a sense, it’s his secret weapon for getting traction on issues that can challenge people,” Professor McDermott said.
“People know, with Daryle, that they’re getting the real deal. He’s measured and humble, but there’s also strength and persistence.”
A staff member at Flinders since 1990, Associate Professor Rigney was appointed as the first Dean of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement in 2011.
The recipient of a staff award for Outstanding Contribution to the University in 2006, he was also part of the Yunggorendi First Nations Centre team recognised with a 2012 Australian Award for University Teaching for its contributions to the education of pre-service teachers of Indigenous students.
Associate Professor Rigney worked on the establishment of the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority and is Co-Chair of the United League of Indigenous Nations (ULIN) and Chair of Ngarrindjeri Enterprises. As a Member of the Ngarrindjeri and State government Leaders to Leaders forums he has helped forge contractual agreements as an internationally-recognised new model for Indigenous people negotiating with governments.
Associate Professor Rigney has been involved in the return of Ngarrindjeri Old People from overseas as well as working tirelessly to challenge the myth of Indigenous extinction in southern South Australia.
The award citation stated that Associate Professor Rigney has “worked creatively on transforming tradition, whilst respecting past, present and future generations – to give Indigenous identities, knowledges and societies safe, rewarding pathways to the future, in particular through research, community development, governance, economic development and education”.