Aboriginal elder Steve Widders to be Australia Day ambassador in Katherine

IT’S a long way from Armidale to Katherine for vision impaired Aboriginal elder Steve Widders.

But that hasn’t stopped him from becoming the Australia Day ambassador for the Northern Territory town. 

Mr Widders, who has been an Australia Day ambassador for the past two years, said he was flattered to be chosen.

He thinks the reason he was chosen was to identify with the area’s large indigenous population.

“A lot of Aboriginal people don’t celebrate Australia Day … they call it Invasion Day as it marks the beginning of the decline of Aboriginal culture in Australia,” he said. 

"My message would be we can’t change the past, but with a different approach we can change the future as far as good relationships and understanding between Aboriginal people and the wider Australian community.”

Mr Widders is on the NSW government’s Community Relations Commission which aims to implement policies that promote multiculturalism. 

He said the recent siege in Martin Place had shown how multicultural Australia came together in a time of crisis.

“The response has shown the sense of community with people of all backgrounds by showing their condolences and respect for the victims of that siege,” he said. Mr Widders aims to leave for Katherine on January 23.

He has previously been an Australia Day Ambassador to Tenterfield and Moree.

Mr Widders was Armidale Dumaresq Council’s Aboriginal liaison officer before retiring.

In 2012 he embarked on a ride to Sydney called Walk Ride Widders.