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Australia Day honour for former Moree local

NERIDA Saunders has been awarded a Public Service Medal on Australia Day after 27 selfless years in public service. The former Moree resident now works in South Australia.

“Being nominated for and then being awarded a Public Service Medal on Australia Day was both a great honour and surprise for me,” she said.

Growing up in Moree Ms Saunders was surrounded by strong role models, in particular her parents, siblings and Aunts.

“They nurtured my conviction in social justice, equality for all and taught me to grasp opportunities and make good life choices.”

Ms Saunders said she worked very hard at school with the support of her family.

She attended Courallie high school and became the first Aboriginal school girl captain, which was an achievement she was proud of to this day.

In 1988, Ms Saunders worked in statutory child protection, starting out as a district officer and working over the years to become the first Aboriginal manager of the Department of Community Services in Moree.

In 2002 to 2005, she took up an opportunity in South Australia becoming the first Aboriginal executive director of the South Australian statutory child protection, youth justice and out-of-home care.

Since then Ms Saunders has worked in providing executive leadership in Aboriginal Housing.

Currently she is the executive director of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation in the Department for State Development in South Australia.

“Over the years I have witnessed the impact of disadvantage and marginalisation, and working in the social services sector alongside committed professionals has brought both challenges and great accomplishments for me.

“I was very happy to receive this award. Being a 2016 Public Service Medal recipient and achieving this level of success in my career is very humbling – in many ways I am indebted to the strong women who raised me and taught me to believe in myself and strive for achievement.”

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