Cowra’s Aunty Esther Cutmore on Wednesday collected TAFE Western NSW’s prestigious award as Aboriginal Elder of the Year.
Aunty Esther was announced as the award winner at a special presentation at Orange’s Highland Heritage Estate.
She said she was over the moon after receiving the accolade.
“Wow, I was blown away when they told me,” she said.
“I don’t know what to say!”
Aunty Esther Cutmore began her journey at the Yarradamarra Centre at Dubbo College in 2016.
Since then, Aunty Esther has completed Certificate I in Aboriginal Languages and is currently studying Certificate II in Aboriginal Languages.
After completing the Certificate I, Aunty Esther was approached by Cowra Public School to assist with teaching the Wiradjuri Language.
She is now employed two days a week to help teacher Albert Murray in the delivery and design of the program and resourcing at Cowra Public School.
“The students love it,” she said.
Aunty Esther is also enrolled in Certificate II in Music and is an active member of the Cowra Aboriginal Elders Choir.
“But I can’t sing!” she joked.
She is a well-respected role model in both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community of Cowra.
She is a proud Wiradjuri Elder and attends Wiradjuri Elders group meetings and functions in Cowra.
Aunty Esther is a strong advocate for Aboriginal rights and a great motivator for her community.
Despite being hesitant to enrol at TAFE at first, saying things like ‘I am too old’ and ‘I don’t know much about my Language’, she quickly came to love TAFE and the Yarradamarra Centre.
She has learnt a lot about her language and culture, even to the point where she is now developing documentation of her language that she and other Elders from Cowra remember.
“I just love the language, I just love it,” she said.
“That’s what I said when I first started, I really love this and I want to learn the Wiradjuri language, I want to do my welcome in Wiradjuri language which I can now do.”
Aunty Esther attends the Yarradamarra Centre for block classes which provides her with the chance to sing with her fellow Choir members from Orange and Dubbo and also share stories of old times.
These stories play an important part in reclaiming culture and language and they are also essential for passing on to the younger generation the importance of striving for excellence in whatever you may do in life.
Congratulations Aunty Esther.