The Governor’s Aboriginal Youth Awards recognise young Aboriginal South Australians, aged between 15 and 29 years, who are showing potential and determination to achieve success, or who are excelling in their chosen field in one of three areas: Sport, Arts and Higher Education.

The Awards are delivered through a partnership between the Department of the Premier and Cabinet’s Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation division and the Office of His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia.

One Award recipient in each category receives:

  • a certificate of recognition
  • $3,000 bursary to aid them in their pursuits
  • the services of a mentor to assist in career development.

Nominations are accepted for the Sport and Arts Award categories. The Higher Education Award is allocated automatically to the Aboriginal student who achieves the highest Grade Point Average, in either their final or penultimate year, across three South Australian universities: University of South Australia, Flinders University and The University of Adelaide.

2019 Award Winners

A formal award ceremony hosted by the Governor and Mrs Le was held at Government House on Tuesday 28 May 2019.

The inspiring and uplifting event was well attended by Members of Parliament, senior academics, current and former commissioners, Aboriginal elders, many community members and young people.

Three award winners were recognised for their outstanding achievements in Sport, the Arts and Higher Education.


The Sport Award was presented to Tamsyn Murdoch, a young Nyikina and Yawuru descendant, in recognition of her outstanding success in athletics’ multi-event discipline, heptathlon. Tamsyn has the commitment and drive required to be successful at the highest sporting levels, as well as providing leadership and inspiration to other young Aboriginal people.


The Arts Award was awarded to Nathan May, a multi-talented emerging singer-songwriter who descends from the Arabana, Yawuru and Marridjabin clans. Nathan has tapped into his talent to develop creative pathways to share his experiences and provide guidance to other young Aboriginal people through school-based music programs. He is a gifted, self-motivated and hard-working musician who is demonstrating his commitment to community and desire to create change through his work with Aboriginal youth.

Higher Education

The Higher Education award was presented to Arabella Hart, whose culture descends from the Bagala clan within the Jawoyn nation. Currently a third year Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) student at the University of South Australia, Arabella hopes to work within a clinical and hospital setting, with a particular interest in cardiovascular-related pharmacotherapeutics and related therapeutic decision making.

Pictured: Front row left-right, The Honourable Steven Marshall MP Premier of South Australia with category winners Nathan May (Arts), Tamsyn Murdoch (Sport), Arabella Hart (Higher Education), His Excellency The Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia, Mrs Le and Professor Irene Watson, Pro Vice Chancellor, Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy, University of South Australia.

Back row left-right, finalists Rachael Richardson (Arts), Amey Lekkas (Higher Education), Temaana Sanderson-Bromley (Sport), Ben Snell (Higher Education), Shane Mankitya Cook (Arts), Kysaiah (Kozzy) Kropinyeri-Pickett (Sport), Absent – Tilly Tjala Thomas (Arts)

2019 Award Finalists

Seven finalists across the three categories were also recognised.

Sport Award Finalists

Adnyamathanha, Narungga and Yarluyandi descendant, Temaana Sanderson-Bromley, is an outstanding young athlete who is excelling in his chosen event, hammer throw. Temaana was acknowledged for his focus and commitment to training, and his future goals include qualifying for the Athletics Track and Field Nationals in April 2020.

Kysaiah (Kozzy) Kropinyeri-Pickett is a talented young footballer who has been playing his chosen sport since he was nine-years-old. Kozzy has been recognised as one the best 17-year-old talents in Australia, and his main future goal is to make it to the AFL and be a great role model for his community.

Arts Award Finalists

Shane Mankitya Cook is a 27-year-old Aboriginal artist whose family hails from Cherbourg Mission. He has developed his own style of graffiti-inspired street art blended with Indigenous art learnt from his mother. Shane’s aspirations are to combine his two greatest passions, art and youth mentoring, and he is working toward opening a café and arts studio/store to provide a safe space for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth to learn and practice art, and to provide them with work experience and employment opportunities.

Tilly Tjala Thomas is a 16-year-old Nukunu musician and singer-songwriter who has a passion for making music, recording and performing, and learning about her culture, language and stories. She is a mature and grounded young woman who is self-assured and yet understated about her culture, and she has a very bright future ahead of her.

Rachael Richardson is a 23-year-old classical violinist whose heritage is from the Dgabugay, Kuku Yalkangi and Merriam language groups. Rachael sees her music as key to champion change and influence other young Aboriginal people to seek extraordinary pathways, and to influence a wider community to support diversity in classical music. Rachael aims to build a career as a classical violinist and win a place in an orchestra of international standing, as well as make a social and cultural impact through her work.

Higher Education Finalists

Ben Snell is in the very final stages of completing a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) (Honours) with a Bachelor of Finance at The University of Adelaide. Since completing a year-long honours project for the Detmold Group, Ben is now employed by the company as a plant engineer while he completes his studies.

Amey Lekkas is a 22-year-old Larrakia woman who has completed a Bachelor of Education (Middle and Secondary/Special Education) and Bachelor of Disability Studies at Flinders University. Amey is hoping to teach in the mathematics field and with students with additional needs. She has been working with the Catholic Education Board, mentoring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders students, and is currently working at Flinders University as a math tutor for first year students.