Awarded the 2021 Healthy and Active Living Award - Uncle Locky Eccles
Nominated by: Members of the Warrnambool Wata Waetnanda group
Uncle Locky a Peek Whurrong Elder, exemplifies healthy and active living in his volunteer intergenerational activities. Committed to the entire community, he has been involved in numerous indigenous and non-indigenous activities and programs such as supporting the region’s young people on their pathway from education to work as an Apprentice Field officer and a Koori Liaison Officer, as well as in local sport as a football umpire.
Ebony Grieve, Service Manager Early Years Learning and Development, Warrnambool City Council says ‘he inspires and enthuses children for Warrnambool and Moyne Council’s Kindergarten’s Indigenous Language program aimed at reviving the Peek Whurrong language’.
His unique way of engaging children has ensured that the program has been successfully delivered to thousands of children.
A long-time member of the Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (LAECG) in Warrnambool and Framlingham, ‘he has become a champion for kindergarten teachers and young children over many years as he tirelessly and passionately introduces words, phrases, greetings and the many idiosyncratic nuances of his beloved language into early years programs, which has exponentially grown and is now replicated in primary and secondary school settings under his guardianship’ Claire Gleeson wrote in supporting the nomination.
Uncle Locky has also inspired and mentored other adults to learn the language, whether incidentally alongside him, or through formal training. The driving force for his volunteering is his commitment to change and achievement for all Aboriginal students, and in particular for Aboriginal children and youth in his community. Through the Koorie Early Years Network South West, the steering group is currently planning to invite Uncle Locky to assist in drawing up a regional early years cultural and language program that can be delivered to all kindergartens in the Shires of Warrnambool, Moyne, Corangamite, Southern Grampians and Glenelg. This is a significant contribution to this very important work representing his People and sharing their language and traditions.
Councillor Vicki Jllie AM says ‘without question a greatly respected Aboriginal Elder and community member, Uncle Locky toils away quietly without seeking recognition, instead working for the good of his own mob and the entire community’.
Out on the field Uncle Locky commands respect as a fair and encouraging football umpire as he continues his 60 years of endeavour in sport. In that role, Uncle Locky is a role model and inspiration to generations of young players, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
You will also find him out on a cliff top or wild beach mentoring younger people in specialist cultural programs. His name is synonymous with Aboriginal culture, ceremony and language in south west region and he is highly respected for his work in building relationships towards reconciliation, supporting other’s stories in the community and the message that delivers about positive relationships and trust. ‘This contribution to the early year’s community is a lasting legacy’ says Ebony.
Listen to Uncle Locky's conversation with the Commissioner for Senior Victorians.
Read more about the Victorian Senior of the Year Awards.