Awards celebrate ‘outstanding Irish-Australian women’ in Sydney

Genevieve Kelly honoured as first mayor to apologise for Aboriginal genocide

The first Australian mayor to give a formal apology for the Aboriginal genocide, and a singer who shot to international fame, are among the Irish-Australian women receiving awards this Friday at a ceremony in Sydney.

It is the fourth annual Brigid Awards, set up to recognise the contribution of women of Irish heritage to Australian society.

Genevieve Kelly, with roots in Cork and Kilkenny, was mayor of Sydney's Sutherland Shire Council when she gave the apology at a commemoration of British explorer Captain James Cook's first landing in Australia at Kurnell. She will receive an award for her work on social justice through the trade union movement, as a lecturer and president of the NSW Lecturers' Association, and in the political sphere, as mayor.

Singer Little Pattie, Patricia Amphlett, will receive an award for a career that saw her shoot to fame in the 1960s and perform across Australia and the US, including on The Ed Sullivan Show. As a 14-year-old she had a hit single with 'He's My Blonde Headed, Stompie Wompie, Real Gone Surfer Boy'. She has been an advocate for social change and sang the iconic 'It's Time' TV commercial during the 1972 Australian federal election, which saw reformer Gough Whitlam elected as prime minister.


Senator Deborah O’Neill, patron of the Irish Friends of Labor, which is organising the awards, said the awards were an opportunity to “celebrate outstanding Irish Australian women from politics, unions, business, social justice campaigning and the wider community”.

She added: "We hope to continue to grow in the future, and in particular to reach out to the many young Irish who have made New South Wales their home in recent years. Politically, the world faces many challenges in the coming decade, and it is incumbent on Labor to step up and meet the challenge of delivering a fairer and more equal Australia."

Fiona Nix will receive an award for her contribution to the business community as founder of Australia's leading independent film and entertainment agency NixCo, which has been involved in movies such as Moonlight and Hacksaw Ridge.

Pam O Mahony will receive a Community Hero Award for her work on behalf of the Irish community in Sydney and New South Wales through GAA clubs, the St Patrick's Day Parade Committee, and the Ireland Calling Radio station, which allows the Sydney Irish community to stay informed and in touch with one another.

Other award recipients include: Anne Murnain, who has campaigned to raise awareness on poverty in rural Australia, particularly among Aboriginals; Catriona Barry, board member and chairperson of 3 Bridges, a community organisation which helps disadvantaged people; Mary Louise Yaager who has worked in the union movement since 1989 and also has been involved with the St Vincent de Paul, the Sydney Archdiocese and the Right to Home Campaign; and Geraldine Murray, nominated for contribution to the Megalong Valley Pony Club as the club's treasurer and fundraiser.