Aboriginal Community Owned & Managed

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SEARMS Chair, Tom Slockee: NAIDOC Male Elder Award Finalist

Posted on 7 Jun 2023

It gives us great pride and pleasure to share that SEARMS Chairperson and lifelong Aboriginal housing advocate “Uncle Tom” Slockee has been selected as a National NAIDOC Male Elder Award finalist.

The annual National NAIDOC Week Awards recognise the incredible contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to their communities to improve the lives of others. The Awards not only celebrate outstanding community members, but they also encourage future generations whilst remembering the nation’s 65,000-year-old history.

In the 1980s, Uncle Tom and his family moved to Walbunja Country, Batemans Bay. He found that a large number of Aboriginal people in the local community were struggling with housing, with many facing homelessness and without access to safe and accessible housing. Tom himself was refused access to private rental housing due to the colour of his skin. These experiences laid the foundation for Tom’s dedication to providing safe housing for Aboriginal people, especially in regional areas.

Tom went to work and founded Budawang Housing Corporation and was soon sought out by the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO). With the AHO, he was first a member and eventually stepped up to become the chairperson of the influential Aboriginal Housing Development Committee.

In 2003, Tom was instrumental in developing and setting up the South Eastern Aboriginal Regional Management Service (SEARMS). He returned to SEARMS in 2011, and since then, he has remained the SEARMS Chairperson. Tom is one of the driving forces behind SEARMS, and the recognition of his work by the National NAIDOC Awards highlights the fact that his tireless work for the community positively impacts the lives of so many people.

An ordained Anglican priest, Tom is driven by his faith to serve the community, disparage wrongdoing and ensure equal access to services for Aboriginal peoples. He has always ensured he extends himself beyond just the local community by speaking at national and international events, writing journals, and creating community groups where people can come together for advice or just to have a yarn.

Uncle Tom, it is our privilege to work alongside you and to be able to be a small part of your lifelong passion and vision for improving Aboriginal housing outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Please join us in congratulating Uncle Tom and the rest of the 2023 National NAIDOC Week Award finalists for this outstanding recognition. Whatever the outcome on the day, we are already the winners and richer for knowing you!

National NAIDOC Week Award winners will be announced at the National NAIDOC Week Award Ceremony on Saturday, 1 July 2023, in Meanjin.