ONE of the shining lights of a program to attract indigenous Territory men and women back to cattle station life has won a major leadership award.
Stewart Foster, 22, has been named inaugural winner of the Alward Foster Memorial Emerging Indigenous Pastoral Leader Award.
He was presented with the award by Northern Territory Primary Industry Minister Ken Vowles at the NT Cattlemen's Association annual conference in Darwin last week. Stewart took part in the Pastoral Real Jobs Program, which is supported by the cattlemen's association, the Central Land Council and National Indigenous Pastoral Enterprises.
He worked at Manbulloo Station near Katherine and Auvergne near Timber Creek before becoming leading hand at Morstone Downs near Camooweal. Morstone Downs managers Ian and Kerrie Fletcher said Stewart was an independent man and a "great role model for the younger generation”.
"He balances his family responsibilities, culture and working in a non-indigenous environment very well and without hassle,” Mr Fletcher said.
"He has been known to take on a few young fellas that follow him on his journey and, without realising it, he mentors and supports them.
"Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. Stewart acknowledges this and continues on his journey.”
Mr Fletcher described him as a "bright, talented gentlemen with a great work ethic”.
"He has become what the Real Jobs Program is intended for,” he said.
Stewart recently gained a Certificate III in Agriculture and is now starting Certificate IV.
"He is constantly open to learning new skills and developing himself.”
NTCA chief executive Tracey Hayes said they were delighted a role model such as Stewart was the first winner of this award.
"Indigenous people played a key role in opening the Northern Territory to pastoralists and we want to attract more Aboriginal stockmen and women back to the industry,” she said.
"Pastoralists are keen to play their part in combating indigenous disadvantage.”
The award is named after the late Alward Foster, who joined the NTCA's Pastoral Real Jobs Program as an employee on Newry Station on the West Australian border.
He later became a full-time NTCA staff member.
His job was to train, mentor and support young indigenous people in the Real Jobs Program and Indonesian students from the NTCA Indonesian Australia Pastoral Program. Alward was a natural born leader, who once went to Canberra and showed then Prime Minister Julia Gillard how to crack a stockwhip.
The award recognises a young indigenous leader with the attributes of the Aboriginal stockmen and women who contributed so much to building the cattle industry in the Territory.
Rural Weekly will interview Stewart in coming weeks.
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