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Aunty Bessie Yarram

Aunty Bessie Yarram has made a substantial contribution to the Gippsland community.

Honour Roll

Aunty Bessie Yarram is a Noongar woman, born in Western Australia and is recognised and acknowledged as a respected Aboriginal elder at local, regional, state and national levels.

Widely known as Aunty Bessie, she was a foundation member of the Raramhyuck District Aboriginal Corporation and was Gippsland's first Indigenous Home and Community Care Development Officer, a position she held for 10 years. In this role Bessie has been pivotal in increasing access to HACC services by Indigenous people within the Gippsland region and across Eastern Victoria.

Reflecting both her status and her record of contribution, Aunty Bessie has held many positions on boards, committees and working groups at a local, regional, state and national level representing Aboriginal people. Just a few of these positions include being the respected elder at the Koorie courts in Morwell and Bairnsdale, being a member of the Police Community Consultative Council in the Wellington Shire, and being chairperson of the Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative. Through these positions Aunty Bessie has helped to make a substantial improvement to the lives of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Victorians.

Her work with the Koorie Court in Morwell and Bairnsdale has helped contribute to the success of these new institutions in reducing re-offending rates. For six years, she also convened Mixed Blessings, a camp for elders and seniors that brought together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Victorians to Gippsland as part of Senior Citizens Week.

In addition to her many formal positions, Aunty Bessie is also widely recognised for her role as an advocate, role model, mentor and supporter of Aboriginal elders and for women generally in her community and across Gippsland. Through her long community commitment, her passion for her culture and her belief in the importance of working together, Aunty Bessie Yarram has helped to make substantial improvement to the lives of both women and men living in Gippsland and beyond.