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Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

Rhoda Roberts, David Wright honoured

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Rhoda Roberts reads Melissa Lucashenko's 'Crabbes Creek'. Photo Eve Jeffery.
Rhoda Roberts has received an AO for services to Indigenous arts in the 2016 Queens Birthday Honours List. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Bundjalung performer, director and curator Rhoda Roberts has received an AO medal for her work promoting Indigenous arts while Ballina mayor David Wright has received on OAM for his years of service to the community, particularly in the wake of last year’s spate of shark attacks.

Other north coast residents named in this year’s Queens Birthday Honours list include Rev Graeme Davis of Goonellabah, Peter Christensen of Tweed Heads South, and Marjorie Wastell of Banora Point.

Ms Roberts is director of the Boomerang Festival, which runs alongside the Byron Bay Bluesfest. She also sits on the board of NORPA.

Among her many other roles in promoting Indigenous culture are: Head of Indigenous Programming, Sydney Opera House; current director of Lighting the Sails’ for the current Vivid Festival; co-founder of the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust (ANTT); founder and festival director of the International Dreaming Festival, 1995-2009; and creative director of the Awakening Segment at the Sydney Olympic Games.

She was also creative director of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations from 2008-2010.

Ballina Mayor David Wright doesn't advocate merging with Byron. Photo Eve Jeffery.
Ballina Mayor David Wright has received an OAM in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Mr Wright has been mayor of Ballina since 2012 and has steered the shire through a tough time following the death of surfer Tadashi Nakahara last year.

He was previously mayor in 1999-2001 and has held the role of deputy many times since 1997.

Mr Wright was a long-time teacher at Alstonville Public School and has been a teacher in the area since 1972.

He is also a member of the Wollongbar Progress Association and a founding and life member of the Alstonville Basketball Club.

Ms Wastell was awarded for service to hockey and to the community.

She is a life member of the Brisbane Women’s Hockey Association and former vice president, secretary and executive member.

She is a former president of the Ascot Women’s Hockey Club, and a life member. Ms Wastell was a member of the Neptune’s Women’s Hockey Club and on the board of the Neptune’s Ladies’ Life Saving Club ‘for many years’.

Both Reverend Graeme Davis and Bevan Christensen were nominated for service to veterans and their families.

Rev Davis has held numerous other roles over many years, including life member City of Lismore sub-branch of the RSL, and president 1994-1995, as well as various roles at Lismore’s St Carthages Cathedral.

He is currently chaplain for the northern region of the New South Wales Ambulance Service (since 2008), and North Coast Legacy (since 2010) and chaplain trauma officer for Far North Coast Branch, Surf Life Saving New South Wales (since 2010). He currently also provides pastoral care services at St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Lismore

Mr Christensen’s service includes volunteer patient assistant at John Flynn Private Hospital, and volunteer pensions and welfare officer, 1984-2010. He has assisted with the Anzac Day Service, since 1994 and has been a member of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta RSL Sub-Branch since 1989, a committee member, 2000-2004, and a life member since 2005.


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  1. Rhoda you are an exceptional and classy Aboriginal Bundjalung woman who is so deserving this and so much more…
    yYurs in Unity,
    Delta Kay


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