Two leaders in Indigenous music, arts and media have been recognised at QUT's 2022 Outstanding Alumni Awards.
International musician David Williams (above right) was last night named the university’s Outstanding Indigenous Alumnus of 2022, with media leader and justice graduate Jyi Lawton (above left) recognised with the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award.
David Williams, QUT 2022 Outstanding Indigenous Alumnus
Mr Williams is a QUT Creative Industries graduate who graduated with a Bachelor of Music in 2005.
He is an internationally recognised didgeridoo performer, and the founder and executive director of Gilimbaa – a full-service creative agency specialising in strategic and connected communication.
He is an Indigenous advisor to government, corporate and cultural organisations, whose roles include being a former board member of the Queensland Museum Network, former chairperson of the Queensland Museum Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Committee, and an Indigenous Advisory Group Member for the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.
A Wakka Wakka man, Mr Williams uses storytelling and creative skills to connect his culture to the wider community.
“One of the things I've been fortunate enough to do in my career is perform all around the world using the didgeridoo as my passport, connecting with audiences in multiple countries,” he said.
“One of the career highlights that I've had was performing at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games – and having that moment where an estimated four billion people are watching around the world, tuning in to where we're showcasing our culture to the world. It was a really proud moment.”
Mr Williams said the Gilimbaa agency’s name meant ‘today’ in the Wakka Wakka language.
“The idea behind that is we have the stories of our old people from yesterday passed down through generations to today, because it’s what we do today that has impact on tomorrow,” he said.
“As a creative agency, one of the highlights of our portfolio was working on the NITV rebrand that launched at the end of 2021. To create a brand mark that is highly visible right across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, across the country, was really exciting because it’s that representation of mob from all over that gives people pride and that sense of ownership that really elevates the brand to where it needs to be.”
Jyi Lawton, QUT 2022 Outstanding Young Alumnus
Mr Lawton is the CEO of the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association (BIMA), which operates radio station Triple A Murri Country 98.9FM and provides training and media services.
A Bidjara man from central west Queensland, he graduated from QUT with a Bachelor of Justice in 2014, after initially enrolling in a Bachelor of Design and studying architecture.
His creative skills and passion for art remained with him, and saw him found Yimbana, a creative design and consultancy service, with projects including co-designing the first Indigenous Queensland Maroons jersey.
Prior to joining BIMA, Mr Lawton held operational and senior leadership positions across state and federal governments in the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Department of Youth Justice, and the Indigenous Business Australia business program supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs in business.
Mr Lawton said his career had been “far from linear”.
“I started out in a career in youth justice, pivoted to a career in business and just found myself by accident working in the community space and in a community setting – and media was the calling for that part,” he said.
“I'm really passionate about First Nations people having our rightful place in this country. And that means having ownership and control over the decisions that impact us.
“That’s the beautiful thing about what we do every day at Triple A – every day is a highlight for me. Being able to elevate the voices of our community and tell our stories our way and provide a platform to do that is really rewarding.”
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